JSerra stuns Foothill, advances to O.C. final


MISSION VIEJO It became apparent early that the JSerra boys lacrosse team wasn’t going to be denied.

The Lions, the fourth-seed in the U.S. Lacrosse Orange County Championships, scored four of the first five goals against top-seeded Foothill on Saturday night.

As the momentum started to swing in the opposite direction, the Lions kept their composure offering a response at every opportunity.

In the end, Jake Schleppy’s overtime goal was the final and best rebuttal for the Lions, giving them a 14-13 victory over Foothill at Mission Viejo High.

The Lions will face St. Margaret’s in the Orange County championship, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Tustin High.

“We knew what we were up against,” JSerra assistant coach Andrew Casimir said. “Coach Fox has a very good system over there. Losing to those guys last year in the finals, the kids were really motivated.

Austin Shackleford did a great job getting us so many possessions in that third period that kind of pushed us through.”

The Lions trailed at one point in the third 9-5, but they wouldn’t go away. Three consecutive goals from James Yanes (two) and Emerson Roth got the Lions to within one (9-8).

JSerra finally caught Foothill at 10-10 with 1:42 left in the third on a goal from Schleppy. Logan Olmstead scored with three seconds left to send the game into the fourth quarter tied at 11-11.

The Lions scored the first two goals in the fourth, only to have Foothill rally tie the game at 13-13 on a goal from Matt Marano and Kevin Kodzis with 7:10 left.

The score would remain tied, sending the game into overtime.

“You know it was going to be a tight game,” Casimir said. “Lacrosse is a game of swings and we knew they were going to be able to come back and get some goals.

In the overtime period, Foothill won the opening face-off, but lost the ball. JSerra recovered and immediately called timeout.

“We talked about what we would do if they went to zone or if they went man-to-man,” Casimir said. “They went man, so we decided to get a nice play we’ve been working on and Jake (Schleppy) got to the cage and did what he’s been doing all year.”

Casimir also credited the work of goalkeeper Beau Largent.  Yanes and Yuta Murata had four goals apiece for the Lions. Schleppy added three.

This is the first loss to an Orange County team for Foothill this season.

“We were making too many errors,” Foothill coach Jon Fox said. “A lot of things uncharacteristic on defense, giving them too many extra chances … couldn’t quite get the momentum where we needed it.

Matthew Harris led the Knights with four goals. Nate Marano added three.

“We needed to get the ball down to the offense and it just didn’t happen enough,” Fox said. “But JSerra is a great team. They came through and played one of their best games I’ve seen. Credit them for their hard work.”

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