The opening round of league play wrapped up Monday for the Mesa League’s collection of five boys lacrosse teams, with the defending champion Eastlake Titans holding a commanding 4-0 edge.
Commanding might be too kind a word to describe the Titans’ Mesa League rampage.
Eastlake defeated arch rival Otay Ranch, 14-4, in a match-up of league unbeatens Monday on the Mustangs’ campus. The previous Friday, the Titans spanked host Olympian 21-2.
The two lop-sided victories raised the team’s opening-round goal-differential to 70-11 against league opponents and 90-11 against conference foes.
The next stop obviously appears to be the San Diego Section playoffs. And that could be another story. To date, no Metro boys lacrosse team has ever won a CIF playoff match.
Could the Titans be the first to do so?
At the midpoint of the season, EHS coach Nestor Rosas called this year’s squad the best ever in school history. Few would likely dispute that at this point.
The killer instinct finally appears to have surfaced.
The game at Olympian might have been the best game the Titans had played this season; Monday’s effort wasn’t too far off the mark.
“We had been starting fast but then hitting a lull,” said Rosas, whose team improved to 11-3 overall after Monday’s win. “But we kept it going. We play a very up-tempo game — one with a lot of passing. Once we make three or four passes, we get going. We get on a roll.”
Eastlake came out with all guns blazing against the second-year Eagles, off to a school-record 9-2 start. The visitors led 5-0 after just 3:22 and racked up an 8-2 first quarter lead en route to coasting to a 15-2 halftime edge. The Eagles showed more effort in the second half, though they were outscored 6-0.
Eastlake faced a more determined struggle on Monday, scoring twice in the opening quarter and doubling the score in the second quarter to post a 6-2 halftime edge over the scrappy Mustangs.
Otay Ranch coach Adrian Rodriguez said his club is in a “rebuilding” phase this season. If so, watch out next season as the Mustangs’ underclassmen mature.
In the meantime, the Titans remain the conference’s juggernaut.
Eastlake racked up a 4-2 scoring edge in the third period to lead 10-4 heading into the final quarter. The visitors tacked on four more goals in the last period to walk off the field with a 10-goal victory. If it was any consolation to the Mustangs, who dropped to 3-1 in league play, 5-7 overall, with the setback, it was the closest any league foe had gotten to Eastlake this season.
The Titans fired 50 shots at Olympian, including 20 in the opening quarter, and accumulated 49 shots in Monday’s game at Otay Ranch.
Team co-captains Jordan Vicente (six goals, three assists) and Ryan Hayes (four goals, four assists) led the Titan offensive attack against the Eagles while Garrett Miele, Jake Randall and Andrew Gisler each contributed two goals and one assist. Overall, nine Eastlake players scored at least one goal in the rout and 11 players took at least one shot.
Paris Delgado scored two goals to buttress the Titan surge while Gabe Evangelista had a goal and assist, Christian Haffner and Chase Morris each scored once. Haffner once again led the defensive effort with nine ground balls.
The EHS goalkeeping tandem of Nathan McPeak and Elijah Atendido combined for seven saves, with Atendido pitching a second-half shutout.
“It was a great team effort,” said Randall, who also serves as a team co-captain. “Everyone stepped up. “We had a great effort across the board. We just need to keep it coming.”
Hayes (five goals, two assists) and Vicente (four goals, one assist) spearheaded Monday’s attack for Eastlake. Seven players once again scored at least one goal, with Randall credited with a goal and assist, and Miele, Delgado, Morris and Gisler credited with one goal and Haffner with two assists.
Titan players scooped up 35 ground balls against Otay Ranch and vacuumed the carpet at Olympian with 46 ground balls.
Christian Benitez paced the Eagles with two goals while Anthony Hughes collected five ground balls. Olympian goalie Juan Madrid was credited with 23 saves.
“Props to Eastlake,” OHS coach Keith Quigley said. “They have a really solid team. We seemed to get off to a slow start and they got off to a really fast start and jumped all over us early on. It was very difficult trying to recover from that. I will say my Eagles played it out for four quarters and never gave up and that’s all I can ask for as a coach.”
Eagles renew flight
Olympian rebounded from last Friday’s frustrating loss to Eastlake by topping visiting Bonita Vista, 8-7, in a triple overtime thriller on Monday. Midfielder Michael Machuca scored the game-winning goal and led the Eagles with four goals overall in the game.
Anthony Robles scored twice while teammates Kaelan Agoncillo and Alex Medina also picked up goals for Olympian, which improved to 10-3 on the season while evening its league record at 2-2.
The 10 wins are a new school record for Olympian.
Quigley called Monday’s marathon victory “definitely a huge win for our second-year team.”
“The boys found a way to finish,” Quigley noted. “We were up 7-4 late in the game and the Barons came storming back. They have a lot of great kids over there who I know from their participation on my LAX619 summer/winter club teams. I have much respect for them. It was very exciting for senior Michael Machuca, the player of the game, to find a way to finish it off in triple overtime by putting that ball in the back of the net.
“I knew it would be a tough game when they (the Barons)have a player like (goalkeeper) Giancarlo Dongo between the pipes. I was telling my boys you better get some bounce shots off on him because he’s going to stop everything else.
“I was just really happy for my team. We’ve been working really hard all season and they deserved a win like this. It was great to see their excitement and smiles after the game. Our goal is to keep pushing for a playoff spot — that would be a huge accomplishment for a second-year team.”
Bonita Vista, a playoff qualifier last year, dropped to 1-3 in league play, 6-7 overall. The Barons were coming off a 13-3 non-league win over visiting Santana on April 24.
Hilltop rounds out the Mesa League standings with an 0-4 league mark, 5-10 overall. The Lancers lost an 8-4 decision at Otay Ranch in their last league outing on April 24.
Update: Titans send Lancers home with 14-1 loss
Eastlake opened the second round of Mesa League play with a 14-1 victory against visiting Hilltop on Thursday. The league-leading Titans raced out to a 10-1 halftime lead. Jake Randall led the hosts with four goals while Ryan Hayes led the winners in overall points with five points on three goals and two assist. Co-captain Jordan Vicente tallied up three goals and one assist while Paris Delgado contributed a goal and assist and Michaelangelo Aguirre, Chase Morris and Andrew Gisler each scored one goal. The Titans controlled the game by collecting 59 ground balls and also won 18 of 19 face-offs. Morris was eight-for-eight in face-off wins while Delgado led the victors with seven ground balls, followed by Michael Kohler and Morris with six each.
Mesa League Standings
Eastlake Titans 5-0, 12-3
Otay Ranch Mustangs 4-2, 6-9
Olympian Eagles 2-2, 10-3
Bonita Vista Barons 2-3, 7-7
Hilltop 0-5, 5-12
Monday, April 28
Eastlake 14, Otay Ranch 4
Olympian 8, Bonita Vista 7
Thursday, May 1
Eastlake 14, Hilltop 1
Bonita Vista 6, Otay Ranch 5
South Bay League Standings
Mar Vista Mariners 2-2, 2-8
Montgomery Aztecs 4-1, 7-9
Chula Vista Spartans 2-3, 2-8
Southwest Raiders 0-3, 2-9
Monday, April 28
Montgomery 6, Chula Vista 2
Thursday, May 1
Montgomery 6, Southwest 0
Mar Vista 4, Chula Vista 1