Here’s a quick look at the US Lacrosse CIF Southern Section semifinals, featuring Harvard Westlake vs. Palos Verdes in the L.A. County final and what could be an epic matchup between St. Margaret’s and Corona del Mar in the OC final.
No. 6 Harvard Westlake vs. No. 1 Palos Verdes
Wednesday, 7 p.m., West Torrance HS
The Wolverines (14-3) knocked off two higher-seeded teams from the Marmonte League on the road to reach the final, winning 16-8 at Agoura on Thursday and 11-10 in OT at Westlake on Saturday. Harvard Westlake’s three losses all came to playoff teams — Oak Park 13-11 in early March and Mission League opponents Loyola, 8-4, and Crespi, 15-7, down the stretch of the regular season.
Offensively, the Wolverines don’t seem to have much trouble scoring, reaching double-digits in 12 of 17 games this season and 9-plus in 15 of 17. Defensively, though, they can be vulnerable, having allowed nearly seven goals per game and double-digit totals in five games.
Against Palos Verdes (19-1), HW will face a high-scoring and battle-tested team. The Sea Kings, who won the north bracket last season, average 13 goals per game and have been held under nine only twice. PV’s only lost was 8-7 to south bracket semifinalist JSerra Catholic in early April.
I haven’t seen PV play this season, and it’s hard to glean a lot about a team just by comparing scores and perusing stat sheets. But it’s clear the Sea Kings are solid on offense, led by senior attack Tony Romeri (59 G, 36 A); at the faceoff dot, led by freshman Peter Henkhaus (.693 pct) and
senior freshman Rizal Smith (.735 pct); and on defense, led by senior defender Justin Jones (46 GBs, 45 CTOs) and sophomore goalie David McCann (.675 save pct).
I’ve seen Harvard Westlake a few times this season, and as much as I’d love to see the upsets continue and the Mission League stand up, I don’t think the Wolverines’ defense can hold up to a team as deep and talented as Palos Verdes.
No. 3 St. Margaret’s Episcopal vs. No. 1 Corona del Mar
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., Mission Viejo HS
I haven’t seen either of these teams play this season, but I am somewhat familiar with Corona del Mar after their undefeated run to the Southern Section title last spring and the chance to watch many of them over the summer at Champ Camp. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of talent on this roster, enough that the Sea Kings kept winning even when star senior attack Jack Ortlieb was out with a hamstring injury.
Ortlieb was hurt April 20 in CdM’s 12-11 loss to St. Margaret’s — the team’s only loss to a Southern Section team in two seasons — and missed four games. He returned for Saturday’s semifinal win over JSerra and had two goals and an assist. One of the goals came in the closing seconds of the first half, when he fired in a laser from 30-yards out to cap a stellar fast break.
Ortlieb is joined up front by senior attack Casey Mix to form a potent offense — the Sea Kings average 13 goals per game — and they are supported by a solid defense — averaging 5 goals allowed per game — anchored by sophomore goalie Hoyt Crance. 3d does a much better job of breaking down key players for CdM here.
I know even less about St. Margaret’s, but judging from scores and stats — again, a less-than-perfect method — it appears the Tartans played a tough schedule right out of the gate, facing San Clemente, Oak Park, Foothill and San Diego schools La Costa Canyon and Cathedral Catholic. The result was a 2-4 start. Since then, though, St. Margaret’s has won 17 in a row, including a win over CdM, two over JSerra and one over Foothill. The Tartans have outscored three playoff opponents — El Toro, Tesoro and Foothill — 53-13.
Best I can tell, the St. Margaret’s offense runs through the senior attack duo of Alex Waller and Chase Williams, but any team that averages 13 goals a game — and 15 per game in its 17-game win streak — is getting contributions from more than a couple guys.