In what was originally a back-and-forth contest through the first three quarters, seventh-ranked Santa Margarita (9-8, 6-0) exploded with six goals in final seven minutes to beat Trinity League rival No. 12 Servite (8-7, 3-2) 12-8 in Anaheim on Wednesday. With the win, the Eagles clinched their fourth consecutive Trinity League title.
After a slow start to the seasons, the Eagles have turned the corner as of late, winning seven of their last eight games with six of them coming in league games.
While the team was relieved of the final result and took the win, the body language after the game was that of a team who lost a game.
“Some say a ‘W’ is a ‘W,’ but I don’t accept that,” Eagles coach Paddy Chester said. “I hold expectations to be really high because I expect them to do what they did in the fourth quarter, why can’t we do that one, two, and three? So yes, we won Trinity League which is great, but I would have liked for us to play lacrosse up to our capabilities. So mixed emotions. I like to win, but also play great lacrosse.”
On the flip side, the Friars came out to play Wednesday and deserve proper credit for making things difficult on the Eagles. The Friars led 3-2 after the first quarter on the strength of goals from Sam Moore (2g, 2a), Alec Paz (1g, 3a) and Jack Terrones (3g).
The Eagles flipped the script in the second quarter and outscored Servite 3-2 with Tyler Wrightson (4g, 1a) scoring all three goals for Santa Margarita. Paz and Terrones both scored off assists from Moore, and we had a 5-5 tie at the half.
After back-and-forth goals by both teams to start the fourth, Matthew Greenlee (1g) gave the Friars an 8-7 lead with a little over seven minutes to go. Then came the Eagles.
“That’s been our season,” Chester said. “Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, and then we play like we can play. That’s the mystery we’re trying to figure out as a coaching staff for us to play like we can play, because when we can play, we’re fantastic.”
Allender and Connor Kentros (2g) scored two goals within 36 seconds of each other to give Santa Margarita a 9-8 lead and the Eagles did not look back after that. They tacked on three more unanswered to give them the 12-8 win, along with the Trinity League title.
The Eagles received a huge boost from freshman fogo Zack Zahr, winning 11 of 17 faceoffs and helped set up the Eagles offense down the stretch when they really needed it.
“[Zahr] has been working so hard as a freshman,” Chester said. “To come in with a lot of expectations, everyone talks about him. It’s different going from these little tournaments to playing, but he’s learning in his role and he’s really stepped up. He’s been huge.”
Santa Margarita will end their regular season on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. when they host Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma, Wa.). Servite hosts rival Mater Dei on Tuesday at 4 p.m.