Sunday was a huge day for Orange County lacrosse out at the Sandstorm Tournament in Palm Springs. The boy’s side of the tournament saw an all Orange County final as DH Lax (JSerra High School core) squared off against Kings Lax Gold (Corona del Mar High School).
Brady’s Bunch vs FCA Orange
Brady’s Bunch who was comprised of scattered Orange County players and quite a few from Bellevue, Wash., jumped out to a huge 5-0 lead and seemed to have Glen Mile’s team on the ropes early. Two goals before half by Cameron Ziegler (La Costa Canyon High School) assisted by Brandon Mayo (Tesoro High School) and Hunter Edington (St. Margaret’s Episcopal School) brought FCA within three at half.
Coach Glen Miles was able to rally his team at half and with a few adjustments, really turned up the heat. Jake Marthens (Trabuco Hills High School) finished lefty to start the scoring onslaught by FCA. Feeling the momentum, Edington drove down the right alley and beat the keeper to make it a one-goal game. After a stop by Gunnar Garn (Tesoro), FCA’s Parker Core broke away from the field and fed Blake Warner (Tesoro) to tie the game at five apiece.
Brady’s would start to get a little scrappy and found themselves trying to stop the FCA momentum man down. FCA’s Paddy Fallon (St. Margaret’s) took advantage and finished to put FCA up 6-5. One more goal by Ziegler sealed the deal and the comeback as FCA won 7-5, scoring an outstanding seven goals in a row.
DH Lax vs. No Excuse (Tennesee)
(Due to Sandstorm’s three pool format this was the only semifinal game; Kings Lax Gold (CdM) won their pool and advanced to the championship)
DH Lax dominated their pool all weekend coming into this game 5-0 and outscoring their opponents by at least 10 goals a game. Needless to say they were a favorite heading into the playoffs.
Jake Schleppy (JSerra) showed why he is one of the best junior middies in the county by starting the game off blowing by his defender and scoring on a rip to put DH up 1-0. No Excuse put DH in a position they hadn’t been in all tournament by scoring two goals in a row off well contested possessions to go up 2-1. DH came out with a ton of energy but was beat on both No Excuse goals by overcommitting on slides, and the aggressive play that had been working for them all weekend was beginning to look like a chink in the armor.
Hayden Ruiz (Santa Margarita Catholic High School) found James Yanes (JSerra) to tie the game 2-2 but No Excuse would answer back on the next possession to go up 3-2. With three minutes to go in the half Schleppy had a rip on the run righty and squared away the score at 3-3. With seconds left in the half and the momentum back in DH’s favor, goalie Jake Henigman (JSerra) made a huge doorstop save that preserved the momentum DH had worked so hard to acquire going into the half.
After a few good defensive stands by both teams, Ruiz iso’d from X, dipped and danced back and forth, and finally beat his man pushing above the island to give DH its first lead since the opening minutes. Yanes followed his teammate Ruiz and would take advantage of No Excuse’s poor X defense and score what appeared to be a game sealer. No Excuse fought back, however, and scored with four minutes to go then on a drive from X with four seconds to go, tied the game 5-5 to push the game into OT.
DH coach Kyle Harrison handled his team in the huddle and after making a defensive stand to take the ball back, DH’s Ruiz found the back of the net for the game winner. Sudden victory for DH 6-5 pushed them within one game of winning it all. DH’s Austin Shackleford (JSerra) played extremely well against No Excuse’s FOGO who had been dominant all tournament, winning key faceoffs to keep momentum in DH’s favor.
Kings Lax Gold (CdM) vs DH Lax (Championship)
This game was a battle from start to finish — one of those games that really gets you excited for the season especially when there are OC matchups all across the field. Shackleford vs. Simaan at the face, Ruiz and Schleppy vs. Hugh Crance and Greenlee in the scoring end, and Henigman vs. Hoyt Crance in the cages gave the crowd a real taste of what the 2014 season has in store.
Feeding off the momentum of the previous win in OT just minutes before, Ruiz went right back to it feeding Yanes to open up the game with a DH goal. The Kings’ Sherwin Gersten (CdM) answered with a goal of his own after beating his man above GLE. Max Kline (CdM) then took advantage of a DH penalty and finished the King’s man up opportunity. The Kings kept it rolling when Noah Howe (CdM) found Logan Miller (CdM) for a time-and-room high to high finish that gave the Kings a two goal lead.
A great defensive stand by the Kings almost fell apart but was held together by a doorstop save by Hoyt Crance for his third save of the half and the Kings then pushed the other way where Noah Howe dipped underneath DH’s Kennedy Solomon’s (JSerra) over the head check and scored for a 4-1 Kings lead. Simaan kept the Kings on offense after each of their previous goals but was beaten by Shacklemore right before Schleppy put a stop to the King’s scoring spree by draining a ridiculous bounce shot on the run righty. Ruiz followed with a goal of his own to pull DH within one.
Gersten answered DH’s push by beating a DH double topside and gave the Kings a two-goal lead again 5-3. Mitch Kingsley finally got on the board after Ruiz drew slides to leave him open on the backside and DH was back within one. With three minutes left in the game Jordan Greenhall connected to Kline to put the victory within sight for G.W. Mix’s squad. After a daunting offensive possession that had the potential to start a late-game comeback for DH, Hoyt beat Kingsley in a race to the endline after an errant shot to all but seal the deal with two minutes remaining. A Yanes goal with 15 seconds left wouldn’t be enough for DH and the Kings held off to take down the loaded DH team proving the value of team chemistry and cohesiveness. CdM’s Kings won the title, 6-5.
Congratulations to OC’s Kings Lax Gold on their Sandstorm 2014 Elite Division Championship!
Hunter Edington (St. Margaret’s, FCA) – Far from an “under the radar” player, FCA didn’t get a whole lot of attention playing more games than other teams on fields 9 and 10 that were tucked away behind a wall of hedges and cut off from the rest of the Elite Division fields. He was the spark for FCA’s comeback against Brady’s Bunch and a born field general.
Kenedy Solomon (JSerra, DH) – Possibly overshadowed in some eyes because of big OC names on a DH team loaded with talent, Solomon is a defensemen whose game continues to improve. He is nimble yet can push back against the bigger attackmen. Thing that stuck out most to me was his communication and awareness before and after the slide.
Alex Fuller (Newport Harbor, Navigators) – Junior attackman found the back of the net in all three of the Navigator’s games Saturday. He and Cole Esher, who scored two of the Navigator’s three goals against DH Saturday, will look to lead Newport Harbor to a Sunset League championship this season.