It has been a rough 10 days for the Peninsula Panthers, who opened the season ranked No. 8 in the preseason coaches poll. Unfortunately, it gets only a little better in the next week.
After opening their season with a lopsided win over Hamilton, things went south, starting with a 16-3 loss at Harvard Westlake in which two senior stars were injured. The bad news continued with a 9-3 home loss to Crespi and culminated in Monday’s 13-11 home loss to El Segundo.
All three losses were affected by injuries to Greater LA South All-Area LSM Scott Phillips, who is committed to Bryant, and attackman Kyle Beachboard, the Panthers’ leading scorer last season. Phillips was diagnosed with a concussion during the Harvard Westlake game and missed the next two contests. Beachboard suffered a torn ACL in the same game and is out indefinitely.
Beachboard was injured while scoring Peninsula’s first goal against the then-No. 3 Wolverines, who had raced out to a 7-0 lead and won easily. Phillips and Bryce Kitigawa scored the Panthers’ other two goals.
With both players sidelined last Friday, Peninsula fell behind then-No. 13 Crespi 4-0 before AJ Rosato got the Panthers on the board. Crespi led 5-1 at halftime and 7-1 after three quarters in winning 9-3. Junior Ethan Burrage and sophomore Max Cha scored fourth-quarter goals for Peninsula.
Senior goalie Matt Choi was credited with 13 saves against Crespi, anchoring a defense that received strong contributions from Kevin Jones, Patrick Slaught and Garret Moore.
The Panthers’ struggles continued Monday with a close, high-scoring loss to No. 18 El Segundo, the two-time Ocean League champion. Seniors Kitagawa (4g), Nicco Rosato (3g), Will Mbomeda (1g), Isaac Pang (1g) and freshman AJ Rosato (2g) led the Panthers’ offense. Cha and senior Matt Chan each collected five grounds balls, and Choi came up with 12 saves.
Phillips is expected to return for Peninsula’s next game, which is good news. Unfortunately, the matchups don’t get easier — the Panthers (1-3), now ranked 15th, play at No. 4 Agoura on Friday then at home against No. 3 Palos Verdes on March 21. Palos Verdes beat Agoura 15-5 on Tuesday.
Information and photo contributed by Peninsula Lacrosse.