Boys’ varsity lacrosse falls short against SI in final game before MCALs

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Redwood boys’ varsity lacrosse lost against Saint Ignatius (SI) 7-5 on Saturday during the last game before MCALs. Coming into the game, Redwood held a more consistent scoring average and better overall record for the season (15-4) than Saint Ignatius (8-8).

Both Redwood and SI believed they were facing a tough matchup and looked forward to a highly-attended and tense game, according to the SI boys’ varsity lacrosse coach, Chris Packard. According to Packard, this was partly because of the friendships shared between the SI and Redwood players, many of whom grew up in Marin together.

Seniors Ian Leonhardt and Reyn Reeser clash with SI junior Mark McCullough.

Seniors Ian Leonhardt and Reyn Reeser clash with SI junior Mark McCullough.

“We were nervous because we know how good Redwood is. A lot of our players are also from Marin, so there are a lot of friendships. They knew it was going to be a heated rivalry,” Packard said.

The game started with an intense offensive approach by the SI Wildcats, with junior Payton St. Geme making a goal for SI within the first few minutes of the quarter. The Giants fought for possession throughout the first quarter, relying mainly on their defensive skillset and the awareness and reflexes of junior goalie Talis Stockton, who played impressively despite an injured hand.

SI scored one more goal during the first quarter, bringing the score to 2-0 with the Wildcats in the lead. It wasn’t long before the Giants got their foot in the door, as they upped their defense and aggressively worked to regain possession of the ball whenever possible. With a shot scored by senior Ian Leonhardt, the eventful first quarter ended with a score of 2-1, SI still leading.

Junior Miles Dean butts heads with an SI player to gain possession of the ball during a face-off.

Junior Miles Dean butts heads with an SI player to gain possession of the ball during a face-off.

Throughout the second quarter, the intensity of both the Giants and the Wildcats did not ease. Redwood managed to bring the game to a tie with a goal by senior Brendan Hackett. Shortly after, the Giants gained a lead over SI when Leonhardt scored once again, followed by a goal made by junior Harri Hetrick. Hetrick’s goal gave Redwood a significant lead of 4-2 with just over seven minutes left in the quarter.

Communication was a key factor in how the Giants gained an advantage in the game, which was made possible by the close team dynamic, according to junior Nathaniel Kuffner.

“We spend a lot of time together when we’re not on the field,” Kuffner said. “That’s why we’re such a tight-knit team.”

The Redwood boys’ varsity lacrosse coach Blake Atkins agrees that the success of the team so far this season can be attributed to the friendship among the teammates.

“[The players] are all very good friends and you can just see it in practice and off the field. They’re all just buddies and they love being around each other, so it translates to the field pretty easily,” Atkins said.

Despite Redwood’s acute communication and defensive efforts, SI caught up and leveled the score after goals by seniors John Pollock and

Junior goalie Talis Stockton reaches to block a shot made by SI.

Junior goalie Talis Stockton reaches to block a shot made by SI.

Trevor Williams. With a score of 4-4, the game was neck-and-neck by halftime.

After an active and exciting first half, the tied game shifted from an offensive focus to stronger defense by both teams. According to Packard, SI realized the offensive strength of the Giants during halftime and adjusted their defense accordingly. The offensive success of younger players such as St. Geme boosted the Wildcats’ energy and marked a turning point in their game, Packard said.

“I think in the second half, the way our defense played really helped. The goalie made saves, we came up with the ground balls and I thought the defense played really well and really tough,” Packard said. “Getting a goal in like that, in transition from a young guy, sparked a fire for us.  I think that [goal] was really the catalyst.”

Hetrick scored Redwood’s last goal of the game during the third quarter, marking the scoreboard 5-4 before Redwood lost their lead. The Giants’ defense faltered and succumbed to SI’s fierce offensive strategy. Strong defense, however, by Kuffner and juniors Jack Parsons and Miles Squiers kept the Wildcats from scoring more than two goals before the end of the game.

The game finished with Saint Ignatius running out the clock to keep their two point lead, taking the win with a final score of 7-5.

Atkins believes that despite the loss, Redwood still has a bright and competitive future in the games to come.

“I think our strong points are still to come. We’ve beaten teams that we have never beaten before this year, and so we put ourselves in a really good position to get a good seed in NCS and hopefully get into the championship game for MCALs,” Atkins said. “We’re going to come back to work on Monday and get in good shape and be ready to go.”

According to Hetrick, he was satisfied with how the team played as the Giants knew they were in for a tough game against SI.

“We knew [Saint Ignatius was] going to be a good team and we knew that we were going to have to put it all out there if we were going to win. Unfortunately, we did put it all out there but we just got a little unlucky,” Hetrick said.

Hetrick hopes, though, that the competitive attitudes will carry over into the playoff game on Wednesday.

“We’re going to take that energy that we had today and use it in practice and into the games and we’re going to hopefully keep the championship at Redwood,” Hetrick said.

Redwood boys’ varsity lacrosse plays the first playoff game for MCALs this Wednesday, May 2 on Redwood’s Ghilotti field at 5:30 p.m against Tam High.

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