DOWNEY >> Twelve years ago, Corona del Mar boys lacrosse coach G.W. Mix and others lobbied the officials of CIF to have a playoff system for the sport.
On Friday, his Sea Kings beat Foothill 10-4 at Downey High to become the first boys team from Orange County to win a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 championship.
“There are a lot of great players in our program and a lot of great people that helped us get here,” Mix said. “This is an incredibly resilient group. It’s just a pleasure and humbling experience to be their coach.”
Corona del Mar (19-3) dominated the second half and outscored Foothill 6-1 in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Four of the Sea Kings’ goals came in transition on fast breaks that were started by defensemen. Tucker Jackson, Connor Hebble and Chase Hebermehl each started fast breaks with long poles and either scored or had an assist on the same possession.
“They (Foothill) did a great job of taking our short sticks away on the clear and so we talked to our poles about, ‘you’re going to have to be the ones to get us from one end to the other,’” Mix said. “It was critical for us to be able to get those transition goals.”
The first quarter was like a championship boxing match with both sides being cautious and trying to figure out what the opponent’s strategy was. Lucas Newton scored the first of his three goals with 10 seconds remaining in the quarter to tie the game at 1-1.
Foothill (19-5) trailed 3-1 midway through the second quarter when Dean Pistone scored two goals to tie the game late in the frame.
Jackson made a long stick goal for the Sea Kings to give them a 4-3 advantage at halftime.
After 11 game minutes with no scoring, Newton made a move from behind the net and scored to extend the lead to two heading into the fourth.
Foothill scored immediately off the faceoff in the fourth quarter when Pistone found Gavin Griswold for his second goal of the game to cut the lead to one.
Three of the Sea Kings’ top scorers took over the game from there and scored in bunches to put the game away. Newton scored his third goal midway through the third, the team’s leading scorer Ty Caffarelli scored and Nic Peloso scored twice in the final minutes.
“We had so many kids have big moments tonight and we knew that was what it was going to take,” Mix said. “This group of kids is special, they’ve been together since the third and fourth grade. They’ve dreamed of this moment and it finally came and they responded. It was just really enjoyable to watch.”
Defenseman Tyler Brown had a team-high four ground balls for the Sea Kings and goalie Grant Giuliano had seven saves.
This is the second consecutive season that Foothill has fallen in the CIF championship game. The Knights beat Santa Margarita, Agoura and St. Margaret’s to reach the championship game Friday.