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By Steve Breazeale
Trailing by one goal with under four minutes to play before halftime in the US Lacrosse Southern Section South Division Championship game, St. Margaret’s stunned defending champion Corona Del Mar by scoring four unanswered goals in the blink of an eye.
The No. 3 ranked Tartans rattled off four consecutive goals in 69 seconds to surge past the top ranked Sea Kings and hold on for a 12-7 victory.
With the win St. Margaret’s earns a berth in the Southern Section finals, which will be against Harvard Westlake at West Torrance High on May 11 at 1 p.m.
Both teams exchanged body shots in the early going, neither threatening to pull away when the Sea Kings held a 3-2 lead in the second quarter. That was until St. Margaret’s freshman Nick Shanks received a nice feed from senior Chase Williams, who was behind the net, and buried the shot to even it up at 3-3.
Sophomore Ryan Harnisch kept the momentum going 12 seconds later after winning the face off and taking it straight to the net himself for a goal. Senior Chase Williams scored 32 seconds later and freshman Samuel Harnisch capped things off with a goal at the 2:33 mark to make it 6-3.
The four-goal swing allowed the Tartans to take the 6-3 lead into halftime.
“The shots weren’t exactly there (in the first quarter). Shooting high, shooting at the stick and we just started getting those and that was the key,” Williams said. “We had to re-calibrate ourselves and learn to shoot and once we started getting it in it was business as usual.”
Williams would go on to score four goals in the match to lead all scorers.
Ryan Harnisch dominated the face off circle all night, winning 11 total, providing crucial ball control for St. Margaret’s.
The Sea Kings only lost two games all year heading into the match and one of them was a 12-11 overtime loss to the Tartans back on April 20. In that match St. Margaret’s rallied from an 8-2 deficit for the win.
The Tartans defense has stifled opponents throughout their playoff run and the story was much of the same in the division finals. The seven goals allowed to the Sea Kings was the most the Tartans defense has allowed in four playoff games. Despite that, St. Margaret’s is boasting an average of four goals allowed over their playoff run.
The solid defense, coupled with the streaky scoring, has given the Tartans a chance to compete for a Southern California title. The scenario is something that almost looked out of reach one month ago, considering the team started off their 2013 campaign by dropping four out of their first six.
“They weren’t too sure at the beginning of the season at 2-4 but we kind of kept telling them that they were pretty good they just kind of needed to hang in there and they did that,” St. Margaret’s head coach Glen Miles said. “This team’s got a pretty tight bond…they stayed together all year.”