The rain held off just long enough Tuesday evening for No. 2 Palos Verdes (2-0) to defend its home turf and defeat No. 3 Harvard Westlake (1-2) 10-9 in an instant classic. Landon Smith (4g, 1a) sent the home sideline and crowd into a frenzy with his game-winning goal with eight seconds remaining.
“We were all fighting for it,” Smith said. “We saw the matchup we wanted and luckily the ball ended up in my stick and I just went ahead and made the play.”
The Sea Kings got off to a red-hot start with Ryan Wilson (1g, 1a) scoring in the game’s first 30 seconds. PV added two more goals within quick succession and built up a 3-0 lead within the first minute. As it would turn out the Sea Kings would need every one of those goals.
The Wolverines showed great poise in recovering and buckled down on defense to slow the Sea Kings. The first quarter ended with PV up 5-2.
In addition to buckling down on defense, the Wolverines, slowed down the game with long possessions. HW scored three of their own compared to a lone goal by Smith in the second quarter to give Palos Verdes a tight 6-5 advantage at halftime.
“We were getting a little frazzled because [Harvard Westlake] had some long possessions,” Sea Kings coach Jimmy Borell said. “I don’t think we were working as hard for the shot we wanted.”
The Wolverines and Sea Kings both scored once in the third quarter to bring the final frame to an interesting 7-6 beginning.
Harvard Westlake senior Sultan Daniels (1g, 1a) tied the game at seven aside with 11:15 remaining in the final frame, and two minutes later Jake Jellison (1g) gave Palos Verdes the lead right back. Owen Hudgins (2g) tied the game again with 7:55 to play, and then Harvard Westlake took their first lead of the game off the stick of Brody Listen (2g, 1a) with 2:43 remaining.
With time still to go, the Sea Kings came up clutch in the final minute of the game. Birk Swan (4g) took a beautiful feed from Smith from the back side and netted the game-tying goal in dramatic fashion with 56 seconds left in regulation.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the Sea Kings had no interest in overtime with the threat of rain glooming in the area, and Smith took the rebound off Harvard Westlake’s goalie Alex Russell and secured the game winning goal with eight seconds remaining.
Defensively, the Sea Kings were led by Neil Randall who corralled eight ground balls and had one forced turnover. Randall also won 14 of 19 faceoffs.
Palos Verdes mixed and matched goalies in the first and second half with Kyle McCann (five saves) and Joey Quinn (seven saves). Borell loved the depth of options he has with his two keepers Tuesday.
“It’s rare in high school to have both unbelievable goalies and young men and great teammates,” Borell said. “So this is one of the unfortunate jobs of a head coach where I got to split halves or play one or the other. But we have two awesome guys.”
Palos Verdes will resume action Wednesday when it takes on Redondo Union on the road at 4 p.m. Harvard Westlake will return home Friday with a clash against Santa Margarita Catholic (OC) at 5 p.m.