Titans Hang Tough, Win Championship

The crowd at Granite Hills High School got exactly what they were hoping for on Saturday night at the Open Division Championship – a hard fought, physical game with two top-tier offenses going head-to-head. The second seeded Poway Titans squared off against the eighth seeded Torrey Pines Falcons in the season’s final showdown. It was evident to both fan bases that both teams deserved to be there, and that the winner would truly be the top team in San Diego for 2015.

After the opening faceoff, Henry Hollen started off the scoring for Torrey Pines with a strong move to the middle and the finish for the first goal of the night just two minutes into the game. Next, after both teams had unsuccessful possessions, Poway’s Jack Woodard drew a slide behind the goal and dumped the ball to Harrison Greaves, who managed to slide a shovel shot into the net as he was falling down with two Falcon defenders draped all over him.

Cole Landolt kept the energy going for the Titans at the 5:40 mark, as he executed a brilliant question mark dodge in the low alley and sent the ball to the stick side corner for the 2-1 lead. Poway drew a foul on a cross check one minute later, but Falcon goalie Max McGuire staved off a great shot by Poway’s Jake Fiske to keep the Falcons within one. Zach Hodge put the missing goal into the net for the Titans with 38 seconds to play in the quarter, thanks to a pass from Woodard. 3-1 Titans.

With the clock low off of the ensuing faceoff, the Poway defenders turned a faceoff loss into a crucial turnover and put the exclamation point on a fantastic opening quarter for Poway. The Poway defense forced a turnover in their own zone, picked up the ground ball and gave it to Kobe Brown, who took it the rest of the way from midfield and jammed it past McGuire on a high bouncer with just six seconds remaining in the quarter. A four-goal run for the Titans.

The second quarter would be a different story. After both teams fell victim to turnovers early in the quarter, Jackson Leinhart got things rolling for the Falcons with a great inside move and shot that found the high corner four minutes into the quarter. 4-2 Titans. Less than a minute later, Beau Botkiss made an excellent play as he picked up the ground ball off of a turnover and took it the other way so that Leinhart could catch, face-dodge and score his second goal to make it 4-3.

Poway goalie Kellan Cutting came up with key saves throughout the night, including a pair of saves midway through the quarter out of a Torrey Pines timeout that ultimately kept the game close. Leinhart, however, seemed to have his number, as he scored his third consecutive goal after shaking his defender off of him in the alley for a low-to-high shot. With four minutes to go in the half, the score stood at 4-4.

Forty seconds later, Torrey Pines capped a four-goal run of their own as Zach Friedland let a lefty skipping bouncer fly from the alley and sent it past Cutting for the 5-4 lead.

Hodge stopped the Falcon run and sent the teams into the halftime break level, as he took a pass from Owen Springett and drilled it into the net from 13 yards out with just 11 seconds left.

At halftime, both teams showed the ability to make fantastic and well-timed plays. It was a great showing of grit and resilience, with both teams battling out every ground ball and scrapping for every rebound. The second half did not disappoint.

In the first possession of the half, Hollen assisted Leinhart for his fourth goal of the night just one minute into the half to take back the lead, 6-5. At the 7:35 mark, Springett assited Brad Belasco to bring the game back to a tie at 6. The teams battled it out for the next five minutes of gameplay. The ball went to virtually every corner of the field before it ended up in the Torrey Pines goal at the 2:05 mark, when Hodge took a pass from Woodard and earned his hat trick on a low-to-low rocket for the lead, 7-6.

Early in the fourth, Poway kept the momentum rolling. Nicholas Beeson assisted Woodard and allowed him to score a goal of his own to go with his three assists, as he blasted a shot past McGuire stick side high to stretch the lead to two, 8-6.

At the five minute mark, Hollen got the Falcons back on the board as he buried a high shot from downtown thanks to an assist from Spencer Small. One point ball game, 8-7.

The scales seemed to tip in the favor of the Falcons at the 2:23 mark, as Poway was called for a 30 second foul for illegal procedure. While up a man, Leinhart made a strong move to the cage to tie the game, but Cutting had an answer for him and stoned him on the doorstep. During the ensuing clear, at the 1:34 mark, Torrey Pines got called for a one minute slashing penalty. This was enough to seal the deal, as Poway was content to run out the clock up by one goal to become the champions of San Diego lacrosse.

Coach Zach Burke was honored with an ice bath as Poway stormed the field, gloves and sticks flying into the air, with the clock showing all zeroes.

Both Poway and Torrey Pines had excellent seasons and postseasons, and should be primed to make another run at the title in 2016. Congratulations on excellent seasons, Torrey Pines and Poway alike!