Moments after his team took a seemingly comfortable 10-5 lead over host Eastlake in Monday’s boys lacrosse showdown, Otay Ranch coach Doug Murphy admonished his troops that no matter how far ahead they were, no lead was ever safe.
“Five goals in lacrosse is nothing,” Murphy cautioned his team.
The winner of five Metro Conference championships during coaching tenures at Chula Vista, Eastlake and Otay Ranch, Murphy knows the game — and the opponent. And his words indeed proved prophetic as the visiting Mustangs held on for a 13-12 victory.
The Titans had a chance to tie the game with five seconds left.
The five-goal lead proved just enough for the visitors, who improved to 4-1 on the season, 3-0 in league play, with the key victory against their chief rival.
Eastlake dropped to 4-3 on the season, 1-1 in league play.
Murphy, with roots in New York and Massachusetts, said his personal blueprint for success is the game plan Syracuse used to defeat Johns Hopkins University in the 1983 NCAA Division I championship game.
“Syracuse was behind 12-5 at the end of the third quarter but won 17-16,” the Mustang coach said. “Lacrosse is a game of runs. They make a run and you make a run. We just out-lasted Eastlake rather than defeat them.”
The Titans outscored the Mustangs 7-3 in the second half. EHS coach Nestor Rosas had to feel upbeat despite the loss. “See what happens when you cut down the mistakes,” he said in reference to his team’s dramatic second-half comeback.
The teams rematch April 19 at Otay Ranch.
The Mustangs had to employ their game plan — in reverse order — in twice overcoming deficits of three goals in Wednesday’s encounter at Hilltop. The Lancers, fielding one of their finest teams in school history, led by scores of 3-0 and 5-2 before visiting Otay Ranch chipped away to claim an 8-6 victory.
The Mustangs scored the final four goals of the game to erase a 6-4 Hilltop edge.
While 2011 Metro Player of the Year Franz Hahn has watched the opening stages of the Mustangs’ season unfold on the sideline due to an injury, Otay Ranch has demonstrated its depth with a 4-1 start.
The Mustangs faced off the season with a 14-6 victory against Santana on March 6 before dropping a 15-3 decision at La Jolla Country Day two days later.
Otay Ranch opened league play with a 20-3 over Montgomery on March 12 and followed with a 20-5 victory at Bonita Vista on March 15.
Senior middie Robby Sills had five goals and one assist in the win over Santana while A.J. Howes racked up six goals and five assists, Jeremy Tolley had three goals and three assists and Sills contributed four goals and one assist in the victory against Montgomery.
The scoring was once again spread around in the win over Bonita Vista. Jacob Weidner had five goals and two assists, Sills had four goals and three assists, Howes had three goals and four assists, Jordan Newman scored four goals, Tolley had three goals and Victor Garcia had two goals and two assists.
In the win over Eastlake, Sills led the Mustangs with four goals and three assists while Weidner had three goals and one assist, Nick Zvirzin had three goals and Flinn made 11 saves.
Howes led Otay Ranch with three goals and one assist in Wednesday’s comeback win while Zvirzin had two goals. Hahn made his season debut with a goal and assist — a figure matched by Sills.
Casey Stanko powered Eastlake with four goals in Monday’s setback while Devon Ballow picked up three goals.
The Titans opened league play March 15 with a 13-4 victory against visiting Mar Vista.
Daniel Hodge scored Hilltop's first five goals in Wednesday's game against Otay Ranch but was held scoreless in the second half as the Mustangs engineered their dramatic comeback.
The Lancers entered the game riding a four-game winning streak following a season opening 4-3 loss to El Capitan. Hilltop's undefeated run included victories against Monte Vista (9-2 on March 8), Preuss (9-6 on March 13), Helix (5-2 on March 16) and Montgomery (10-1 on March 19).
2012 LACROSSE STANDINGS
(Through March 21)
Otay Ranch 4-0 league, 5-1 overall
Eastlake 2-1 league, 5-3 overall
Hilltop 1-1 league, 4-2 overall
Mar Vista 2-1 league, 2-1 overall
Bonita Vista 1-2 league, 2-5 overall
Montgomery 1-3 league, 1-5 overall
Chula Vista 0-3 league, 0-5 overall
Thursday, March 22
Eastlake 9, Bonita Vista 4
Mar Vista 17, Montgomery 5
Wednesday, March 21
Otay Ranch 8, Hilltop 6
Tuesday, March 20
Bonita Vista 1, Chula Vista 0
Monday, March 19
Otay Ranch 13, Eastlake 12
Hilltop 10, Montgomery 1
Thursday, March 15
Eastlake 13, Mar Vista 4 Montgomery 9, Chula Vista 4 Otay Ranch 20, Bonita Vista 5
PUCKidz, operated by South Bay Outlaws lacrosse coach Keith Quigley, will hold a youth lacrosse camp for kids of all experience levels from 10 a.m. to noon each day in Explorer Park in Chula Vista. Camp dates are March 26-30 and April 2-6. The camps are open to youth in the third through eighth grades. The cost is $85 per week or both weeks for a discounted rate of $150. Family discounts are also available. Contact www.puckidz.net for more information.