Youthful exuberance wasn’t enough for the Rancho Cotate Cougars to overcome the Terra Linda Trojans 6-3 lead Wed., March 13 in a home game held at Rancho Cotate.
The Cougars’ collapse against the Trojans and then a similar loss just two days later Fri., March 15 against the Bella Vista Broncos, 13-7, left the Cougars without a single win to their name for the season. Their record stands at 0-6 so far. The losing streak has been rough, especially for the kids—many of whom are playing high school level lacrosse for the first time.
Yet that’s part of the problem. Lacrosse is still a small sport, and despite the tireless efforts by the Rohnert Park Lacrosse Club to cultivate new athletes, the Cougars struggle every year to fill their roster. When they can’t, they have to make sacrifices—sacrifices like folding the varsity and junior varsity teams together. That’s exactly what happened this season. When Rancho Cotate merged the two teams they created one that was heavily tilted towards younger players, and when those freshmen and sophomores go up against the varsity teams of other schools they find themselves outclassed.
“Honestly, the biggest issue for is that we’re young,” Tory Hotaling, Cougar Head Coach, said. “They’re learning the game—especially for the freshmen. Going right into varsity is a huge step. They’re just learning how to play together. We’ll be a dangerous team in a year or two, but right now we’re rebuilding.”
Still, despite the clear disadvantage, the Cougars gave the Trojans a good bit of competition. They kept the Trojans within a one or two point lead all the way up through the first half.
Eventually, though, the game tilted when the Trojans’ Finn Marshall moved around the backside of the goal. The Cougars shifted their defensive pattern to block him, but they were slow, inexperienced, and with the Trojan offensive line swarming around the periphery, it proved to be too much. Marshall plunged around the side. Two Cougar defenders stepped in to block him, but, without looking, Marshall flicked the ball behind his back.
The move caught the Cougars by surprise. The ball passed by the goalie and into the net.
A few minutes later the Cougars responded in kind. Their Dimitri Johnson seized possession after the face-off at mid and carried the ball down the field to the edge of the Trojans’ defensive line. Johnson couldn’t find a hole. The Cougars passed the ball between themselves in a flurry of motion to confuse the Trojans.
It worked. The ball landed in the net of Cougar Michael Garrison who used the Trojans’ split second of disorientation to put it away.
“My team worked their butts off tonight and I’m really proud of them. Our offense was moving the ball around, but we never got to doing any actual plays,” Garrison said. “We’d move the ball around but we wouldn’t dodge.”
That was to be the last point scored by the Cougars in the game. The Trojans’ Brendan Casey pressured the Cougars’ defensive line all the way through the fourth quarter. In a minute and a half, he fired off three shots on goal—all blocked by the Cougars’ goalie, Trevious Grant.
Yet take enough shots and eventually one will get through, which is exactly happened. Casey made an attempt on goal from the corner of the pitch. Grant moved to block, but he was a couple inches off and the ball moved passed.
“In terms of experience? They’re a young team. That could be why they dropped the ball a bit more,” Carter Ogden, Trojan Head Coach, said. “Hats off to them, though. They played tough.”
Next up for the Cougars is a match this Fri., March 22 against University High School in San Francisco.