By Zach Cavanagh

In what figured to be the last editions of the US Lacrosse Orange County Championships, St. Margaret’s again made its mark.

In two clashes between the premier lacrosse powers in Orange County, St. Margaret’s captured back-to-back girls and boys county championships with a girls win over Foothill, 15-11, and a boys win over Foothill, 17-10, on Wednesday, May 8 at Newport Harbor High School.

Both teams advance to the US Lacrosse Southern Section championships on Saturday, May 11 at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach. The boys will look for revenge from last year’s final loss against eventual champion Loyola of Los Angeles, and the girls will take on Palos Verdes.

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This week, the CIF-SS announced it would finally and formally launch its own playoffs next season, which will bring an end to the US Lacrosse playoff structure.

Both games followed similar patterns as Foothill gave St. Margaret’s all it could handle in the first half of both games, but the Tartans pushed on to take total control in the second half of both showdowns.

In the boys game, the rivalry between Foothill and St. Margaret’s was evident as the teams played a tight and vicious first half to a 6-6 tie.

The second half opened just as tight as the first, but St. Margaret’s continued to wear down Foothill with possession after possession and scored eight of the game’s final nine goals out of a 9-9 tie.

“We didn’t change anything; we didn’t adjust,” St. Margaret’s coach Glen Miles said. “We just kept going and stayed at it. It’s really hard on the (Foothill) defense to keep competing at the level they (Foothill) were playing at when they couldn’t get the ball away from Stuart (Pollard).”

While Pollard didn’t score, the senior was the absolute key for the Tartans, winning 29 of 31 faceoffs to earn MVP honors.

Senior Kevin Groeninger, California’s all-time leading scorer with 404 points, put in two goals and added three assists. Freshman Cooper Barkate scored four goals with three assists. Senior Koa Todd and sophomore Nate Sanchez each scored four goals.

In the girls title game, Foothill led, 8-7, at halftime before senior Maddie Barkate made her MVP mark.

Barkate scored three consecutive goals, the last two while fighting a leg injury, to push St. Margaret’s out front, 10-8. Barkate was named game MVP with five goals and 12 draw controls.

“We needed to figure out, they’re going to pressure us high, can we handle it?” St. Margaret’s coach Holly Reilly said. “Yes, in fact, you want to pressure us high, we’re going to look to the middle early and find holes.”

The Tartans would never trail again, but Foothill fought back to force a tie at 10-10. Senior Niki Miles scored four of the final five goals as St. Margaret’s dominated possession over the final 15 minutes of the win. Miles scored six goals and added two assists.

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