Garrett Kuntz (4 goals, 2 assists) found a streaking Trevor Peay (4g, 1a) on the crease with less than one minute to play in the second overtime to give St. Margaret’s a thrilling 12-11 2OT win over Foothill and the 2018 US Lacrosse Orange County championship.
Four quarters were not enough. A four-minute overtime period was not enough, and it was beginning to look like a second overtime would not be enough. However, someone eventually had to be crowned the OC Champion, and that title now belongs to the St. Margaret’s Tartans who overcame a five-goal deficit and held the Knights scoreless for about the last twenty minutes of play.
“That definitely would be one of top experiences and championships of my career,” said St. Margaret’s head coach Glen Miles. “It was a lot of fun. Just a lot of perseverance. The kids have talked about finishing for a couple of weeks now, so it was pretty cool that they got a chance to really, really, finish.”
The Tartans started the game by grabbing a 2-0 lead, but the Knights countered and the game was tied at three after the first quarter. Foothill put their foot on the gas in the second, scoring five goals to take an 8-5 lead into halftime. Andrew Cumming (5g) had three goals in the first half for the Knights.
“Andrew [Cumming] had some nice timely goals that we needed and Ellis [Geis] as well,” said Foothill head coach Jon Fox. “We needed them.”
The Knights continued to pressure the Tartans in the third period and grew the lead to as much as 11-6, but they would not score another goal after that.
“Our guys just made more decisions on their own,” Fox said. “They didn’t follow the instructions on what to do, and just turned over possessions unnecessarily and just gave [St. Margaret’s] momentum.”
The momentum began to shift when Kevin Groeninger scored the final goal of the third quarter to draw the Tartans to within 11-7 with 12 minutes to play.
The fourth quarter took a really dramatic turn in favor of St. Margaret’s thanks in large part to Stu Pollard and Kuntz. Pollard (16 of 22 on the night) dominated the dot to keep the ball in Tartan sticks for much of final quarter and Kuntz scored three of his four goals including the one that tied the game at 11-11 with about five minutes left in regulation.
St. Margaret’s had the ball for the majority of the first overtime period, but neither they nor the Knights could not cash in on their opportunities, forcing a second overtime period.
The Knights controlled the ball for much of the second overtime but an errant pass was picked up by the Tartans at midfield and they went into transition with less than a minute on the clock. They eventually worked the ball to Kuntz at X who found the hard-cutting Peay for the winner.
“Our goal going into the game was to play fast and strong, so on that last one I saw one of their defenders running off and I saw Garrett [Kuntz] with the ball and I saw an open lane so I cut really hard and Garrett put some touch on the pass so I caught it and finished it,” Peay said. “I owe it all to my teammates. I could not have done it without them.”
Outside of Peay’s and Kuntz’s clutch offensive performances, the Tartans also got points offensively from Kevin Groeninger (2g, 2a), Andy Shin (1g), John Edington (1g), and Michael Chew (1a). Zane Handy put up big numbers once again in cage with 15 saves.
“There are 11 seniors who came back really determined this year,” Miles said. “They knew they were not playing up to their standards. Give Foothill a lot of credit, they caused some of that. In the end, character is everything.”
Besides Cumming’s five-goal outburst for the Knights, Geis (2g, 1a), Joshua Fox (1g, 1a), Michael Logan (1g), Britain Houssiere (1g), Troy Hofer (1g), Wyatt Kayl (1a), and Grant Roess (1a) contributed offensively. The Knights won the turnover battle, causing 12 turnovers, and Geis and Roman Pistone each forced two turnovers.
The Tartans will face Loyola (LA) Saturday afternoon at Newport Harbor high school for the Southern Section championship. The last time these two met on March 17, the Tartans went to Los Angeles and defeated the Cubs 8-4.
“The coaching staff will celebrate for about an hour tonight, and then we’ll start watching film right away,” Miles said. “We know that Loyola knows us, and we kind of know Loyola.”