The Rancho Cotate Lacrosse 14U Team continued their undefeated streak Sun., April 7 when they crushed the Santa Rosa Lacrosse 14U Team, 9-6, in a home game held at Rancho Cotate High School.
The victory leaves Rancho Lacrosse with nine wins and zero losses for the season. Of course, Sunday’s game wasn’t the first one against Santa Rosa Lacrosse. They’ve played the team three times before and come out ahead with every encounter, but Sun. was different. Rancho Lacrosse started off slow. They lacked the normal fire which had carried them to that point in the season. The problem, as Rancho Lacrosse coach Mario Merino explained, was simply that the team was fatigued from their game a few days prior in Mendocino.
“We’ve had two games every single weekend and we just went up to Mendocino so we came out a little flat,” Merino said. “Then they had a good pep talk, our stick skills came back together, and effort returned to levels of the team that won us our season so far.”
For the first half the two teams stood evenly matched. While it was a stalemate, it was a shifting one; whenever one side managed a breakaway the other swiftly countered with one of their own, and it wasn’t until the third quarter that Rancho managed to build a lead. A large portion of the thanks for the break in the stalemate goes to Rancho Lacrosse’s Manning Merino, son of Mario Merino. Of the nine goals scored by Rancho Lacrosse, Manning pulled in five of them, three of which were in the first half.
The first real breakaway for Rancho arrived when Manning collided at the midfield line with Santa Rosa’s Brian Cvitanovic. Helmet met helmet in a plastic echo heard all the way in the stands. Manning recovered first, however, and scooped up the ball, charging Santa Rosa’s goal. Slow to respond, Santa Rosa failed to muster a proper defense and Manning slipped between the defenders and flicked the ball into the net.
“These guys have been nothing but hustling, playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Merino said. “When I talk to them I tell them that it’s about the team. Don’t do it for yourself, don’t do it for me. Do it for the team.” But Santa Rosa had a response. It came in the form of Reed Sherman, who, in a span of just a few minutes of play time, participated in a pair of goals which that gave Santa Rosa the lead for the first and only time of the game.
The rally started when Sherman swept in from the side of the field to scoop up the ball after his teammates had dislodged it from a Rancho forward. He shook off a couple of hard slaps from Rancho defenders, but in doing so Rancho left open a gap in their defensive pattern for Sherman to tie things up. Half a minute later Sherman assisted his teammate, Jack Larson, for a quick goal that gave Santa Rosa the lead.
Yet those few points were a brief blip in a game otherwise dominated by Rancho Lacrosse.
Rancho regained the edge when their Tyler Nixon twisted between two Santa Rosa defenders for an easy goal. Jose Calvillo followed up Nixon’s point with one of his own a few minutes later with a shot from midfield, as did Charlie Carrancho. Santa Rosa managed two points in the fourth quarter, but they weren’t enough to catch up.
“They’re a good team. That’s our third time losing to them and every game is a battle,” Santa Rosa coach, Anthony D’Amico, said “It does grate a little. Last time we played them it was a double overtime loss.”
The Rancho Lacrosse 14U boys will have a rematch with Santa Rosa this Sat., April 13 at Rancho Cotate High School.