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Los Alamitos 13, Varsity 12

March 13, 2015

There was a nervous energy that was almost palpable as Trabuco Hills went through their pre-game drills Thursday at Los Alamitos.

On the other end of the field awaited their most daunting opponent of the season so far, the Los Alamitos Griffins — a perennial power in Southern California lacrosse.

los al logoFueled by their successful start to the season, the Mustangs took the field determined to go toe-to-toe with a Griffin squad they finally felt equal to. Jenelle Phillips made a statement with an early goal, testing the defense to see what they had to offer. Los Alamitos promptly responded with a polished score off of a planned screen. After a Mustang pass did not connect, Phillips won the loose ball with a great hustle play and converted it into her second straight goal. Kendall Derbyshire then won a loose ball of her own, carried it around the right side of the net and accelerated to beat her defender on a crease roll and shot that eluded the Griffin keeper.

As the momentum seemed to be building for the Mustangs, Los Alamitos answered with another goal off of a screen at the top of the 12 meter arc. After a scramble on the ensuing draw, Trabuco Hills managed to control the ball and work it behind the Griffin net. When a pass out in front did not connect, another scramble converged in front of the net and Madison DuMond was able to flip the ball past the distracted goalie to increase the lead back to 2. Phillips then went to work again, isolating her defender and spinning off of her to have a clear shot on goal to notch her 3rd tally of the game. There was a frenetic back-and-forth pace to the game, which the Griffins soon took advantage of to close the gap to 5-3.

After a time-out, Los Alamitos controlled the draw and broke in unimpeded on Mustangs keeper Erin Beall for a quick score. Phillips responded with her 4th marker, but the Griffins came roaring back with 4 unanswered goals, each coming off of set plays that featured weak-side passes, multiple players cutting to the net in what seemed like waves, and the patented pick-and-roll plays that have been a staple of the Los Alamitos offense for years. The slew of goals was tempered briefly when Derbyshire was able to take advantage of a turn-over and beat the defense around the to the right for her 2nd goal of the game. The Griffins were relentless, however, and managed another late goal before the half, taking a 9-7 lead into the break. The inability of the Mustangs to have success in the center circle was placing tremendous pressure on the defense.

As the 2nd half opened, Trabuco Hills seemed to have a renewed vigor. A controlled offensive set resulted in a Griffin foul with allowed Derbyshire to net her 3rd goal off of a free position. The response by Los Alamitos was almost immediate. On the next possession, however, the Mustangs again mounted a controlled attack which culminated with DuMond threading a pinpoint pass to Juliet Mooney which left the Griffin keeper helpless to stop. On the next draw, Becca Haggard dug deep to win the loose ball and made a forceful run down the field and drilled her shot into the back of the net. 10-10, a new game. Phillips, Derbyshire, DuMond, Audie Shutler, Hannah Moller, and Ashly Bradshaw were all stellar in their efforts and performance.

The physicality of the game was intense and kept increasing as the 2nd half wore on. Players on both side were drawing fouls, hitting the turf, or having goggles knocked out of place. The pace seemed to be taking its toll on Mustang defenders and midfielders, who looked to be tiring when no substitutions were taking place. The Los Alamitos domination of the center circle, where they won nearly 65% of the draws, the persistent double and triple team defense, and their methodical offensive sets that kept the Mustangs scurrying all night was draining. And the Trabuco Hills turnovers were mounting.

Another weak side pass put the Griffins ahead again. Another pick-and-roll and they were up by 2. Yet another pick-and-roll and it was 13-10. Calling a late time-out, the Mustangs attempted to regroup for one last push but time was not their ally. But there still was a chance! As Los Alamitos tried to slow things down, Trabuco Hills was able scrape together 2 more goals, both off of free position shots from Mooney, which closed the deficit to 1.

Unfortunately, with just over 40 seconds left, after being given possession of the ball near midfield, the Mustangs committed their final costly turnover and the clock ran out on their 1st loss of the season by a 13-12 count.

Record: 3-1
Next: Carlsbad and Oak park at LA/OC Shootout at Laguna Hills on Saturday

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