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Corona del Mar edges Foothill in nonleague thriller
TUSTIN With less than four minutes remaining, it appeared that the Corona del Mar boys lacrosse team had enough goals to hold off Foothill.
Corona del Mar led by five goals on three different occasions in the second half of Saturday’s highly anticipated match against Foothill at Tustin HS, the final time, 15-10 with 7:48 left on a goal by Ryan Meckler.
The celebration was delayed as Foothill charged back with three consecutive, but Stephen Von der Ahe made sure that CdM had at least one more goal.
With a little over two minutes, Von der Ahe intercepted a pass and deposited the ball into the net to give CdM a 16-13 lead and eventual victory.
“I thought he was going to keep running up the field,” Von der Ahe said. “I saw the ball, put my stick there, saw the goalie was out of the cage and I just shot it.
“That kind of sealed the deal.”
This was the first time the two teams had played in four years. It didn’t long for things to take on the feel of much more than a regular season contest.
Corona del Mar led 4-2 after the first quarter. Foothill responded with goals from Ellis Geis and Matthew Harris to tie the score at 4-4.
The Sea Kings would take the lead for good, 6-5, getting scores from Nate Neumann and Sachin Gokhale late in the second quarter.
Corona del Mar led 7-5 at halftime and did a great job of keeping Foothill at distance in the third quarter. The Knights opened the quarter with a goal from Harris. The Sea Kings answered with Von der Ahe’s first goal of the game and a goal from Jordan Greenhall for a 9-6 lead.
Later, Foothill cut the lead to 10-8. Eric Fries followed with consecutive goals and Meckler added one for a 13-8 lead with 1:35 left in the third quarter.
“We knew coming in this year that we lost a lot of seniors and a lot of people had to step up,” Von der Ahe said. “Especially the inexperienced juniors, sophomores, even seniors. All the effort and hard work we put in during the off-season finally starting to pay off.
“We worked a lot harder this off-season.”
CdM had four players score at least two goals. Neumann and Von der Ahe had four apiece. Greenhall, Fries and Meckler had two apiece.
Kevin Kodzis led Foothill with four goals. Harris had three. Chris Reem and Geis had two each.
"Their face-off man (Jason Simaan) is great," Foothill coach Jon Fox said. "We failed to clear the ball twice, which we have been working on. We were scoring at almost 90 percent when we were on offense, so the issue was getting the ball and that was something their face-off man was able to control all the game."
As Foothill made its late charge in the fourth quarter, Von der Ahe said that CdM had been in that situation before and knew it could survive the moment.
"When we played Brighton (Mar. 11), we were up 10-5 going into the fourth and they made it a one-goal game," he said. "The defense just adapated a lot better this time."