BUCKS OVERWHELM VENICE 14-3. WILL TRAVEL TO NEWPORT BEACH ON SATURDAY JUNE 1ST FOR THE "RUBBER MATCH" WITH NBLC IN ROUND TWO OF THE SCLAX PLAYOFFS. FACEOFF AT 11:00
BUCKS OVER VENICE IN SCLAX PLAYOFFS ROUND 1
The road to the State Championship started today with the Beverly Hills Lacrosse Club hosting Venice Lax in round one of the SCLAX North Division playoffs. The Bucks had already beaten this Venice squad handily twice this season so the only surprise would have been a Venice upset…..it didn’t happen!
Loyola University may have lost in the NCAA tournament today but their former ace D middie put it out of his mind and went “O” a little over a minute into the game as he took a pass from Culver City’s Devin Maxwell and rifled it into the goal putting the Bucks up 1-0. Collin Hoffman followed three minutes later as he went down on one knee and rose back up with another Buck score. But Venice was still very much in the game and converted a clearing pass off a Venice save into a fastbreak goal cutting the Buck lead in half at the 13:16 mark of the first. The teams traded possessions for the next ten minutes until another Loyola alum from another era, John Brasko found Hofstra’s Brett Tietjen with his hands free and the Hills squad ended the quarter up 4-1. Buck FOGO Jared Jacobs went 5-6 at the “X” and although the Bucks had five turnovers Alex Jessup countered with one takeaway and a critical ground ball and John Brasko stole a Venice clearing pass helping Beverly Hills maintain a big advantage in time of possession.
By the second quarter Beverly Hills was starting to warm up and get a better field sense among the players. Although Ernie Melero cut the lead down to 4-2 just fifty seconds into the quarter the Hills squad put up the next six scores starting with a Casey Costello feed to Jack Vonarb at the 15:03 mark. Andrew White & Mike Kutzer went solo followed so beautiful play from Colorado Mesa’s Steve Brandenburg. First he went solo at the 6:10 mark. Then he picked up a loose ball in front of the crease and with his back to the goal went through his legs and into the net. And for the trifecta he took a beautiful pass from Sean Kane as he was cutting left up top and rifled a pass left handed into the top left corner with 2:10 remaining. The quarter was pretty much over as was the game as Beverly Hills took a 10-2 lead into the half. Jared went 5-8 at the “X” and Morgan Weireter boosted his save count by five as he ended his half in the goal with a total of seven saves. The team cut their turnovers to three and was successful on eight out of nine clears.
Johns Hopkins goalie Mike Gvozden took over in the cage and with the help of a very strong defense only gave up one goal in the third quarter. And while he was “saving” Brett Tietjen scored with an assist from Sean Kane and a hockey assist from Casey Costello. A few minutes later Sean was at it again with a hockey assist to Brett Tietjen who played it forward to Steve Brandenburg for his fourth goal of the afternoon. It was 12-3 at the end of three and great defense was the Buck’s trademark of the afternoon. Mark Bell, J D Johnson, John Brasko and Jason Foreit at close D, Max Glova & Dustin Doty at LSDM and D middies Mike Kutzer, Alex Jessup and Collin Hoffman were too much for the Venice offense.
With the game in the bag the Beverly Hills squad took their foot off the pedal in the fourth and final period. Andrew White and Collin Hoffman both went solo for their second goals of the afternoon as the Bucks closed out the game with a 14-3 victory.
And now with each successive victory each step in the playoffs leads to a tougher opponent. The Bucks will have next weekend off for Memorial Day as they will pay respects to our military and take in the NCAA Lacrosse Championship in Philadelphia. But then it’s back to work as they will travel down to Peninsula Park in Newport Beach on Saturday June 1st for an 11:00 “rubber match” against a team that they beat by one and lost to by one during the regular season. If they are successful on Saturday they will return to Culver City High School the following day for a June 2nd match against the winner of the SCLAX South Division. Faceoff for that game will be 1:00.
It was 2007 the first year that Beverly Hills put a team into the SCLAX Post Collegiate League. The core of the team was mostly the Beverly Hills High School coaching staff led by Mary Washington’s Tim Ray, Notre Dame’s Greg Glenday, Salisbury’s Chris Bray, Navy’s Perry Taylor (the infamous Perry Poppins of Sports Illustrated fame), Eric Baker and yours truly. We were competitive right from the start but didn’t win a game until halfway through the 2009 season when we beat a very strong South Bay team.
By 2010 we had our sights set on the playoffs. Lee Alexanderson, Casey Costello and Sam Vollen, a very high IQ Syracuse defender had already joined the team for the 2009 season. For the 2010 season we added Dash Pomerantz in the goal, Kevin Berlandi, Charlie McNeill, Mikey Doneger, Alex Jessup, Brett Tietjen, Alex Weber, the always elusive crease attackman Bill Wren, Brad Neumann, Harvard’s Garrett Schabb at the faceoff “X” and the lengthy Santa Barbara close defender James Guzik. We managed to beat South Bay twice and split the season series with Hollywood Lacrosse Club, at the time the premier team in the league but we just missed out on making the playoffs
But 2011 was going to be our year. We beefed up our roster adding Brendan Loftus, a beast of a midfielder from Syracuse. We ended up with a 6-2 record giving us the #2 seed in the North and forcing us to travel down to Newport Beach for the North Finals……sound familiar? We ran away with a 14-6 win and celebrated with a team cruise on Billy Wren’s boat conveniently docked across the street from the field. Dash Pomerantz couldn’t tell the difference between his stick and the onboard fishing net. The first place South Division team Quicksilver (now BUKU) got disqualified for a roster infraction so we ended up facing 40 Thieves in the SCLAX finals on our home field in Culver City. It was a very tight game and we walked away with a real slim victory.
It was now on to the State Championships for our first time. We were the home team and we chose to become part of the Shootout for Soldiers down in San Diego instead of our home field…..problem number one. Our starting attack line of Doneger, Neumann & Costello was out of town….problem number two and problem number three………..we were facing a well-oiled Olympic Club team that was accustomed to playing for the State Cup and featured two players who are now Bucks……Nick Smith and Sean Kane…….need I say more? It was a big loss but a learning lesson that would come in handy a few years later when we travelled up North to face this same Olympic Club team only to lose in overtime.
So why bring this up now? For one thing that core group that propelled us in the 2011 season is playing with us now…Doneger, Neumann, Costello, Weber, Jessup, Berlandi, Tietjen and Alexanderson. We’ve got Jacobs at the “X” instead of Schabb and we have two great keepers in Gvozden & Weireter. Throw in a solid close defense, an incredible group of “O” & “D” middies and having Nick Smith & Sean Kane on our side and we have a perfect recipe for getting back to the State Championship game….on our home field. Hills on three…one, two, three HILLS.
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.