Fri, May 17 2013 10:47 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Make no mistake, that history making first-ever CIF playoff win by a Metro Conference boys lacrosse team was there to be had this year. But, once again, it proved elusive despite the best efforts put forth by both the Eastlake Titans and Bonita Vista Barons.
The Titans opened the reformatted Division I playoffs (based on competition level, not student enrollment) on Tuesday as the No. 10 seed hosting the seventh-seeded Granite Hills Eagles. The reigning Metro champions appeared as if they might score one of the biggest upsets in San Diego Section history after taking a 5-1 lead late in the second quarter.
Instead, the Eagles rallied with six unanswered goals while holding Eastlake scoreless in the second half to record a dramatic 7-5 come-from-behind victory.
Bonita Vista, making its debut in the likewise new-look Division II playoffs and a return to post-season competition after a seven-year absence, also suffered a CIF heartbreaker.
The sixth-seeded Barons rallied with two goals early in the fourth quarter to ease into a 5-5 standoff against the visiting Mt. Carmel Sundevils on Wednesday. But the 11th-seeded Sundevils, the last-place team in the Avocado League standings, scored the tie-breaking goal with 9:20 left in regulation to escape with a 6-5 first-round win.
Bonita Vista fired two shots at the Mt. Carmel net in the final 30 seconds — but the last shot went directly into the netting of the stick of Sundevil goalie Patrick Gannon. It couldn’t have been a better bull’s-eye.
“We played scrappy,” noted BVHS coach Sam Cardenas, whose team ended its season 13-8.
The Barons were hindered for most of the game offensively when leading scorer Robert Rodriguez was hit on the helmet early in the second quarter and had to leave the game because of dizziness.
“That hurt us,” Cardenas said. “We couldn’t make up for his shots. We made it closer than I think Mt. Carmel thought it would be.”
The Barons finished in third place in the Metro standings this season — a major upgrade from recent seasons. Eastlake (18-3) received the automatic bid to the Division I playoffs as the league champion while Metro runner-up Otay Ranch (14-6) missed snaring an at-large berth in the Division I field.
“This year we made it to the playoffs,” said Cardenas, whose team finished 10-4 in league play. “Next year we want to win a playoff game and one or two championships after that. I think the program is definitely developing.”
Bonita Vista received goals from five players: Paul Diaz, Andrew Ooi, Rodriguez, Diego Cervantes and Alec Diehl. Giancarlo Dongo finished the game with 15 goalie saves.
Ryan Sweeney scored twice for the Sundevils (7-13), including the game-winner, while teammates Dennis Phan, Kolten Malbrough, Ben Harris and Brady Garrett each scored once. Gannon had 14 saves.
The Titans, riding the momentum of an amazing 16-game winning streak, must be still scratching their heads in trying to figure out how they let a 5-1 lead evaporate.
Granite Hills had defeated Eastlake, 15-5, in the opening game of the season, though Titan coach Nestor Rosas noted the score was only 6-5 in the third quarter before his team’s wheels came off.
Titan senior co-captain Casey Stanko scored the first goal in Tuesday’s rematch, followed by a goal by Granite Hills’ K.C. Iglinski-Benjamin to lock the teams into an early 1-1 tie.
But two goals each by Ryan Hayes and Jordan Vicente quickly pushed the hosts ahead by four goals.
The Eagles (14-5) scored just before halftime to trim the EHS advantage to three goals, and shut out the Titans 5-0 in the second half of play.
“We had seven or eight minutes left in the game to get two goals,” said Stanko, who ranked second on the team with 45 goals in the regular season. “Offensively, we lost our fire.”
“I had mixed feelings about playing Granite Hills again, but after looking at the video from that first game, I figured we had a chance,” Rosas said.
Tuesday’s game was tied 5-5 early in the final quarter.
“They adjusted and we didn’t,” Rosas said in summing up his team’s disappointing setback. “We didn’t have a quality possession in the second half.”
Titan goalie Rogelio Macedo was credited with eight saves in the contest, though it appeared he made many more than that.
Hayes, a junior, finished as Eastlake’s regular season scoring leader with 74 points while senior co-captain Devon Ballow led the team with 46 goals.
Hayes had two goals and one assist in Tuesday’s playoff loss.
Granite Hills advances to face second-seeded Pacific Ridge (14-3) on Friday. The Titans, meanwhile, ended their season with one final cheer for their fallen senior team captain Tommy Henderson.
Sadly, “Tommy!” was heard for the last time Tuesday night.
“At the end of the game we talked a little bit while in our huddle,” said Stanko, who is bound for the U.S. Naval Academy. “I told the team that we did something that few Eastlake teams before us had done. We really had an amazing season. We have to be very happy with how it turned out.”
Iglinski-Benjamin and Collin Cranfield led the Eagles, Grossmont Conference co-champions with Grossmont, with two goals each.
Miraculous might even be too soft of a word to describe Eastlake’s 4-3 victory at Hilltop on May 6 when Vicente rolled in the game-winning goal while knocked flat on his stomach with 41 seconds to play. The seemingly heaven-sent goal kept the Titans undefeated in league play and, in the process, set up their history-making 14-0 league finish.
One had to wonder after the game if Henderson had indeed been Eastlake’s guardian angel all season.
© 2009 The Star-News