BUCKS WILL TAKE ON UC SANTABARBARA ON JANUARY 27TH AT 2:30 AT CRESPI HIGH SCHOOL IN ENCINO. WILL TRAVEL TO SAN LUIS OBISPO THE FOLLOWING SATURDAY FEBRUARY 3RD TO TAKE ON CAL POLY
BUCKS FINISH 9-1 REGULAR SEASON WITH 10-5 WIN OVER NEWPORT
Newport Beach traveled up to Culver City today to take on the SCLAX North Division’s top seeded Beverly Hills Bucks. They knew two things going in; even with a loss they still had a chance at the #2 seed in the North as they held the tiebreaker over South Bay who was facing a very good Venice Lax team. They also knew that Beverly Hills was out to avenge their five overtime loss earlier in the season at Newport.
The game started off with both teams unsettled and trading turnovers the first ten minutes of the game. But at the 11:35 mark Shane Sweigart took a clearing pass off a Morgan Weireter save and led a fast break clear feeding Casey Costello at the top of the box. Casey wasted no time juking the defender and putting the Bucks up by one. Nick Smith followed four minutes later with a clean face off win and a bull dodge from the restraining line and placed a left handed shot past the Newport keeper. But Beverly Hills went down a man on a technical holding call and Newport wasted no time cutting the lead to one goal and with just 15 seconds left in the first quarter Dave Taylor fed Andrew White coming from “X” and the quarter ended with Beverly Hills holding a 3-1 advantage. Beverly Hills held a 3-2 advantage at the faceoff “X” and each goalie had three saves. But the strong defensive play by the Bucks both close and at the midfield spoke to their scoring edge as takeaways by Mark Bell, Nick Smith and Kyle Standiford offset the four Buck turnovers while Newport had four turnovers with no takeaways.
Mark Bell added another forced turnover just three minutes into the second quarter and drove on the goal until he saw Brock Livingston set up on the crease. A quick cross crease flip and an even quicker Livingston spin put Beverly Hills up 4-1. Culver City coach Devin Maxwell pushed the lead up to four goals on a solo drive from the midfield but Newport answered at the 3:15 mark with a rocket from the midfield. Dave Taylor closed out the first half scoring when he repaid a favor and fed Andrew White for the score. It was a 6-2 Buck lead going into the half. Once again face off maestro Nick Smith held a 3-2 at the “X” and a critical ground ball by Kyle Standiford and takeaways by JD Johnson and Sean Crane more than offset the lone Beverly Hills second quarter turnover.
Just one minute and twenty seconds into the third quarter saw the most spectacular play of the game as Harvard’s Sean Kane swept around the crease without the ball. As he came beyond the pipe he made eye contact with Crespi’s Brock Livingston as he sold out and went completely horizontal Brock hit him with a hard pin point pass and Sean quicksticked the ball past the Newport keeper before he had a chance to react. Exactly three minutes later keeper Mike Gvozden worked a quick outlet pass off a save up to a streaking Buck middy that got the ball into the safe hands of Brock Livingston again. Once again the Brock to Sean Kane two man game was successful and the Beverly Hills lead stretched to six goals. But a Newport goal and lackluster play by both teams left the Bucks with an 8-3 lead going into the final quarter. Morgan Weireter split face off duty with Nick Smith and Beverly Hills went 3-4 at the “X”. JD Johnson & Mark Bell each had a critical ground ball and Sean Crane added another takeaway. Blue Jay keeper Mike Gvozden netted four saves in the quarter on five Newport shots.
Despite the five goal deficit Newport was in no mood to give up as they rattled off two quick fourth quarter scores closing the gap to three goals. But UCSB assistant coach Andrew White got involved quickly feeding Brandon Biaggi for a score with just 3:22 left in the game. And to put the game out of reach Devon Maxwell fed Andrew White with under a minute left and Beverly Hills walked away with a 10-5 win.
In its eleventh season in the SCLAX the Beverly Hills squad walked off the field knowing that this was their best campaign so far ending the regular season with a 9-1 record. There were still a few players on the team that remembered their first two seasons when they didn’t win a game. But they also remember 2011 when they won the SCLAX Championships but lost the State Championship to Olympic Club. They remember 2015 when they won the SCLAX Championship but lost the State Cup to Barbary Coast. And they certainly remember last year when they traveled up to the Bay as the SCLAX Champions and lost in overtime to Olympic Club. The expectations are very high for the 2017 Beverly Hills squad. They will have June 4th off while the #2 & #3 seeds fight it out to see who travels to Culver City on June 11th to take on the Bucks in the SCLAX North Division finals. The winner of that game will take on the winner of the South Division finals on June 17th on the home field of the North Division winner for the SCLAX SOCAL Championship. And the winner of that game will host the NORCAL Champion in the State Championship with the date to be determined.
A few players have asked about the new website banner that was posted last week so I’d like to explain my thinking. As is often the case the picture speaks for itself. Its #11 Sean Kane celebrating #18 Conor O’toole’s overtime winner against Beachcomber in the 2016 SCLAX Socal Championship game. But that’s only part of the story as the array of game shorts starting with the black shorts worn in our inaugural 2007 season transition to the blue shorts worn by the team today.
The black shorts were a last minute decision as Eric Baker who was coaching for me at Beverly Hills High School and I agreed that between us we knew of enough players to put together a team that could play with the likes of South Bay, 40 Thieves and the now defunct Hollywood Lacrosse Club. Our Beverly Hills Coaching staff alone created the nucleus of the team with Head Coach Tim Ray, Notre Dame faceoff middie Greg Glenday and Navy faceoff middie Perry Taylor. We had the numbers, a good core group but we were a little light in the goal. Those black shorts with our orange reversibles were getting old fast as we didn’t win a game the first two years although we took South Bay to overtime in year two and played a couple of other teams close.
In 2008 we knew we were starting to get some respect around the league as some familiar names permeated the squad…..John Brasko, Ray Erikson, Billy Wren, Kevin Berlandi who rejoined the Bucks this year, Mike Delabar and one of our biggest game changers, Dash Pomerantz who stepped into the cage. But everything really started to come together in 2009 when we switched to the white shorts. Casey Costello from UMass, Lee Alexanderson from RPI, Seth Cohen from Gettysburg, Sam Vollen from Syracuse and Michael Doneger from Johns Hopkins all joined the team as we started to draw some serious players. Adam Liegner from Vanderbilt also joined that year giving us two strong goalies. We all know how important numbers are in post collegiate ball as our roster grew to 32 players. We opened that season with a 12-10 win over Hollywood LC, the “jewel” of the league. That was more of a statement than a win because it was our first. We followed up the following week with an 11-5 win over a very strong Newport Beach club before losing to Adrenaline 8-6 in the next week. But we were on the map and lots of people wanted to play for us.
We were very optimistic going into the 2010 season as we figured “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and kept our white shorts. 2010 was a strong recruiting year as we added Brett Tietjen from Hofstra at attack, U of Penn’s Alex Weber at the midfield, Hobart’s Alex Jessup and our first UCSB alumni, James Guzik who settled into a close “D” anchored by Sam Vollen, John Brasko and Navy’s Paul Haberlein. Harvard’s Garret Schabb joined us at the faceoff “X” and we were ready to “rock n’roll”. Keep in mind that as we added some of the players that I mentioned, not too many guys were leaving. It was a fun team to play on. We weren’t the only team that was improving as the game grew out here on the coast. But we were competitive with everyone except San Diego’s Quiksilver Lacrosse Club.
So what do you do when you’re close to the top of the mountain? You upgrade your uniforms of course and that’s exactly what we did as we added orange shooter jerseys to the white shorts in 2011. Now I’m not saying they came for the new uniforms or just to play with Big James Guzik but all of a sudden we were “Gaucho Rich” as longpole Chris Schaible, middy Greg Fish and David Gorham joined the team along with U of Denver’s Cory Schaeffler and Claremont’s Phillip Trapp. Interestingly enough, all six of those guys played together at RLS Stevenson Prep in Pebble Beach. Skidmore College’s Charlie McNeill and Brendan Luftus, a ‘Cuse grad also joined the midfield and we were ready to take on anybody. We had won the SCLAX North Division in 2010. This year we won it all and despite being blown out by Olympic Club (Sean Kane & Nick Smith played on that team) we were a very satisfied club. But let’s get back to the uniforms.
We decided to go full blown orange in 2012 including our Cascade CPX team helmets. We continued to add strong players.. But a combination of a smaller roster, a tough schedule and players who couldn’t make a lot of the big games couldn’t be overcome. Going into the playoffs with a 9-1 record and beating Newport twice during the season the Bucks to Newport Beach in the second round of the playoffs.
Despite the downswing (we hadn’t missed the playoffs since 2008), we decided to keep our orange fashion statement and fill in some holes for the 2013 season. Devin Maxwell joined the squad after graduation and Stony Brook’s Scott Rothstein joined keeper Dash Pomerantz and replaced Adam Liegner & Sam Bennet in the cage. UCLA’s Alex Shen was added at close “D” and LSM. Ohio State’s Bryce Woodson and Middlebury’s Skyler Hopkins joined Devin in the midfield and Amherst attackman Evan Redwood stepped into a huge role at attack. The team placed second in the regular season and once again lost to Newport Beach in the SCLAX North Division finals.
We were going into the 2014 season and we were now two years removed from our last SCLAX Division Championship let alone the SCLAX SOCAL Championship. So what do you do? Well you change your uniforms….out with the orange and in with the gray. Our “D” was as strong as ever but we wanted to add some depth so we picked up Crespi High School All American and Wagner LSM Dustin Doty and his high school coach Brock Livingston who was going to anchor our new attack. We also added Johns Hopkins darting attackman Will McCance and another RLS alumni Kyle Peterson. With Evan Redwood still on the team and another RLS and UNC player joining in, points were not going to be a problem but just to make sure we added Jordan Bar and C J Jacobs at the midfield. Beverly Hills split with South Bay and swept Newport during the regular season. They took Newport 8-3 in the first round of the playoffs but their North Division finals opponent, South Bay was just too strong as their season ended with a 19-10 loss.
Beverly Hills was happy to go through the 2015 season with their gray uniforms but they were not happy about failing to get to the SCLAX SOCAL finals for three straight years. They needed to get their roster size up so they wouldn’t get stuck short on numbers when too many players had other commitments on game day. And they didn’t just add numbers……they added quality as in defenders and high school buddies Sean Crane who played at U of Colorado Boulder and J D Johnson who played at U of Michigan. Then we added another standout goalie Michael Levin, Brown All American and MLL Lizards goalie. Mike found Harvard teammates Sean Kane & Nick Smith and J D coaxed Conor O’toole onto the team and we were set for a run. The final piece of the puzzle was FOGO Cyle Moskowitz who would become a dominant faceoff specialist in tandem with faceoff middy Nick Smith.
Well who can forget the 2016 uniform “upgrade”? Yellow? Who the hell came up with that one. But you have to admit….we were noticed and we rode them right up through a second consecutive SCLAX SOCAL Championship. It was a great offseason as we added standouts like Tyler Hill, Dave Taylor, Alex Marcus, Tyler Landis, Alex de la Pena and Andrew Marcus to the midfield. Alex Jessup rejoined the club and as if our “D” wasn’t strong enough Shane Sweigart & Mark Bell stepped in to defensive roles. Combined to the talent we already had, that new group took us to starting with the ball in overtime against Olympic Club in the State Championship game.
That Championship game wetted our appetite but 2017 started off with the loss of a lot of talent. Skyler Hopkins moved up North, long time Buck and defensive standout James Guzik moved to Sacramento, Buck defensive anchor John Brasko changed jobs preventing him from playing, Andrew Mosko & Kyle Peterson went back East, FOGO Cyle Moskowitz went back to school, Tyler Landis jumped ship to South Bay, and SCLAX SOCAL Championship game winner Conor O’toole moved to Texas……….time to get out of the yellow and into some new blue uniforms thanks to Herbalife. The one thing about success on the field is that it really helps with bringing in new players and that’s what we did. WE filled in at attack with UCSB assistant coach Andrew White and Brandon Biaggi. With Cyle Moskowitz back in school, Tony Cavalero came out of retirement to help the team at the face off “X” giving some breathing room to Nick Smith. And you can never have enough defenders. Kyle Standiford joined the team and we all saw what he did last Sunday against Beachcomber. And by the way, have you looked in the cage lately? Michael Gvozden is no longer the enemy as the former Blue Jay is now sharing keeper responsibilities with Morgan Weireter. If one of these keepers can’t make a game we are still in great shape. What if both of these standouts are missing?....we have long time Beverly Hills goalie Dash Pomerantz and former MLL Lizard keeper Michael Levin waiting in the wings.
Eleven years and there are only two things that Beverly Hills has not done……win the State Championship and start a season 3-0……….Well we are now 3-0.