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JSerra boys lacrosse team gears up for playoffs
Lions clinch share of the Trinity League title.
SANTA ANA – It's been quite a first year for new JSerra boys lacrosse coach Kyle Harrison.
Harrison, a lacrosse professional, has led the Lions to a highly-successful season which continued on Wednesday night when the Lions defeated Mater Dei, 9-2, to clinch a share of the Trinity League title.
The No. 6-ranked Lions, 6-0 in league, have already knocked off No. 7 St. Margaret's twice and No. 8 Santa Margarita once and have league matches against Servite and Santa Margarita next week.
"We'lll see what happens next week, but I think we're in a good spot," Harrison said after Wednesday's victory at Mater Dei.
St. Margaret's has consistently been a powerhouse in Orange County lacrosse.
"They're a good team and fortunately we won some face-offs and our kids came out and played hard," Harrison said. "We were fortunate enough to win. If we see them again (in the playoffs), it will be another tough one."
"They're well coached and they have some really talented players."
JSerra has also displayed its talent with a young squad.
In Wednesday's match, JSerra's young players had prominent roles in the victory. Sophomore attack Mitchell Kingsley scored two goals to lead the way.
JSerra took control early moving out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. Yuta Murata scored on a pass from Brenden Lynch with 9:43 left in the first quarter. Hunter Kimpler and Lynch added unassisted goals to give the Lions a three-goal lead.
JSerra controlled the match after that, leading 7-0 at halftime.
Kimpler, a senior, had one goal for JSerra. Three freshmen - Murata, James Yanes, Nathan Reutiman and Logan Olmsted – had goals.
Also scoring goals were Lynch, a sophomore, and junior Cole Schleppy.
Senior goalkeeper Ryan Suttle had four saves.
JSerra's defense of Troy Janikowski, Chaz Dotson, Nick Georgagi, Teddy Finley and Tucker Guyot was also outstanding Wednesday night holding Mater Dei scoreless until the final two minutes when Nick Southron scored two goals to break the shutout for Mater Dei.
The Lions also dominated on face-offs, winning 14 of 15.
Junior Lorin Ortega controlled 5 of 5 and freshman Ryan Harnisch won 9 of 10.
The Lions continue to learn from Harrison, who came to the program with lofty credentials.
Harrison played college lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University. While playing for the Blue Jays, he led the team to the 2005 NCAA Division I national title.
He was the first overall draft pick in the Major League Lacrosse in 2005 and was a midfielder for New Jersey Pride from 2005 until the 2007 season. Harrison was selected to play in the MLL All-Star Game in 2005 and 2006 and was also a member of the 2006 U.S. Men's National Team in the World Lacrosse Championship.
"I've played the sport at every level and I've played the sport for 24 years," Harrison said. "I just try and teach these kids to compete every day and compete in everything we do. I think a lot of our guys are young, but we have a good core of senior leaders that have really bought into what the coaches are saying and have really pushed the team to get on the same page and buy in as well.
"They work very hard and I honestly don't think we're playing our best lacrosse yet. I think we've learned how to work hard. Now it's a matter of learning how to work really hard and play well. We've got a couple of weeks to figure that out."
The future, with so many young players, looks promising for JSerra.
"We're a very young team, we start a handful of freshmen but at the same time we have a core of seniors who have really taken a leadership role with the team and really pushed and guided the young guys," Harrison said.
One of the seniors is the goalkeeper Suttle, who wasn't challenged often on Wednesday, but has been solid all year.
"We have a really solid senior class," Suttle said. "We only have four, but we're extremely dedicated and we're leading the team. We have a pretty young team so we have to help them facilitate the wins.
"We've been playing extremely well recently with a seven or eight-game winning streak so I'm looking forward to that (the playoffs) and I think we'll do well. We just have to keep our heads on straight."
JSerra wraps up the regular season with league matches Monday at 7 p.m. at Servite and Wednesday at home vs. Santa Margarita at 5:30 p.m.
Then, the squad will prepare for the U.S. Lacrosse playoffs.