For something that started out as an “experiment,” Chris Panos has to be quite pleased with the results — as do all the players, coaches and parents associated with Ventura County-based Team Panos, which placed both its teams in the playoff round at last weekend’s Sand Storm Lacrosse Festival.
The Team Panos U-19 team, competing in the open high school division, outscored its pool opponents 52-14 in going 5-0 and advancing in a tiebreaker over Crespi Carmelite’s Liv Lax, which also went 5-0. In the semifinals, Team Panos lost 4-3 in overtime to a West Coast FCA roster that featured players from all over Orange County, including St. Margaret’s Episcopal, Foothill, San Clemente and Newport Harbor high schools, among others.
In the 7/8 division , the Team Panos U-15 team also went 5-0 and won its pool, outscoring its opponents 33-12 and advancing to the playoff round before losing 6-5, also in overtime, to Colorado’s TommyKnockers.
Perhaps most impressive about Team Panos’ showing? The club didn’t exist before October.
“I relocated from Seattle in September,” coach Chris Panos said, “and starting these teams was kind of an afterthought, because I wasn’t sure I would be able to get it off the ground right away. I wanted to see how the kids bought in, see how they prepared.”
Panos retired recently after a 12-year professional indoor lacrosse career and settled in the Conejo Valley. He wasted no time in testing the club-lacrosse waters, forming the Team Panos club teams to compete at Sand Storm, as well as joining up with Justin Eaton at West Coast Lacrosse to form Team West Coast, more of a national-level experience for dedicated players seeking that type of exposure.
The early results with his Team Panos squads speak for themselves and should spur more in the near future.
“It was originally going to be a trial experiment this weekend, to see how things were going to go,” Panos said, “but afterward I asked both teams, ‘So, what do you guys think,’ and without question, unanimously, they said, ‘We’re in, coach.’ “
Panos hopes to field teams at the U-11, U-13, U-15 and U-19 age groups next summer to compete in a handful of tournaments around the state. The Sand Storm rosters were made up of players from around the Conejo Valley, with the U-19 team featuring players from Newbury Park, Oaks Christian, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley high schools, as well as a couple of players from San Diego who made the drive each week for practices.
“Ultimately, these tournaments are the fruits of that labor,” Panos said of the practices (12 since October to prepare for Sand Storm). “The value is in practicing, getting to know each other’s tendencies.”