Saturday evening May 26, the Coronado High School Boys Lacrosse Team defeated The Bishop’s School Knights 6-3 to win the CIF Division II title, in a contest played at Westview High School. It was the second consecutive Division II title for the Islanders and their third championship in four years. In 2009, Coronado won the title before the CIF split the lacrosse-playing schools into two divisions by enrollment size.
The victory also allowed the Islanders to extract a small amount of revenge against the Knights. March 24th Bishop’s defeated Coronado by the score of 5-4, a victory that would eventually earn the Knights the overall No. 1 seed in the Division II Playoffs. Coronado was seeded No. 2.
The Islanders, who posted an overall record of 18-4, other three loses on the season were to Landon (Maryland) High School during Coronado’s annual East Coast trip and one-goal loses to local powerhouses La Costa Canyon (LCC) and Torrey Pines. LCC defeated Torrey Pines in sudden-death overtime immediately before the Islanders and the Knights took the field. By any measure Coronado would have to be considered as being among the elite teams in San Diego County again in the 2012 season.
Nattily attired in all black uniforms, except for white numbers, dark green helmets and dark green trim on their game shorts, Coronado looked ready for battle. The first quarter was a defensive struggle. Bishop’s went on the scoreboard first with 3:49 left in the quarter. Throughout the game Coronado was more aggressive, controlling more groundballs and being much more physical in their play. The hard work paid off with 13.5 seconds remaining in the quarter as senior attack Bobby Ferrar made an athletic one-on-one move to score the Islanders first goal.
It was eventually established that the Coronado defense was stronger than the Bishop’s offense. The Knights had trouble getting open for good shots and solo runs by the Knights toward the Coronado goal were normally met by two or more Islander defenders. Coronado’s starting defensive backfield of Jake Shepherd, Kevin Fahey and Paul Rodriguez were outstanding in front of goalie Reis Stanley. Long sticks Nick Robles and Trent Schulte contributed greatly to the defensive effort as well. Prep lacrosse game scores are usually in the low teens for each team. For the Islanders to hold an opponent to just three goals in the title game reflects a superior effort. Stanley had 15 saves in the contest.
In the second quarter, the Islanders ratcheted up their physical play, checking the Knights all over the field. With 7:27 left in the half, Ferrar struck again, scoring a goal on an assist from George Bailey, finishing with a quick shot on the cage. At the 2:55 mark, Hunter Corpus got into the scoring column by virtue of a nice leaping shot attempt that sailed past the Knights’ goalie. Coronado took a 3-1 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, Bishop’s had three man-up scoring chances, which Coronado defended well. Bishop’s scored first in the quarter with 8:40 left. Coronado answered shortly thereafter at the 8:12 mark, when Corpus took a pass from Schulte and fired a shot from about 15 yards out that hit the back of the net. The second Islander goal of the quarter came on a man-up opportunity for Coronado, which was converted by Bailey on a pass from Ferrar. At the end of three quarters, Coronado held a 5-2 lead.
To make things interesting, the Knights scored with 8:23 left in the game, to get Bishop’s within two tallies of Coronado. At the 8:04 mark, Bishop’s called a timeout and the CHS student body snuffed out any momentum that the Knight’s crowd might have generated, by doing their now famous rendition of the SDSU chant, “I believe that we will win.” Senior Marcos Cepin led the cheer, which ramped up the Coronado crowd even more than before.
The game stayed at 5-3 for the next five minutes until with 2:43 left in the contest, Corpus scored his third goal of the game. This one came on a rebound and quick shot past the goalie. It became apparent that with the way their defense was playing, the game belonged to the Coronado. Immediately after the game concluded, the Islanders threw their sticks and gloves in the air and had a group celebration in the end zone.
“It was quintessential Coronado lacrosse,” said Head Coach Alex Cade. “We were tough on ground balls and very competitive. When the chips were down, they played their best, which makes for a championship team. What a way for Reis to end his high school career, having his best game of the year.”
According to Cade, the Knight’s defense is comprised of three players who will play Division I lacrosse in college, so Coronado had to be ready to play. “Our guys did a good job. It was one of those rare occasions where the game plan was executed perfectly. We picked a great time to do absolutely everything correctly. Mentally and physically I haven’t coached a tougher team.”
Cade highlighted the play of senior midfielder George Bailey. “He’s pretty much on the field the entire time. George has been our guy all year long, doing so many things for us offensively and defensively. He scored big goals for us in big moments. He was the cool hand for the younger kids and the role players. I don’t think we win that game without him.”
If you were at the game and saw some of the shots that Corpus put on goal, you will find this bit of information from Cade of interest. “He’s the hardest shooter on the team. He shoots it just as hard as a top collegiate player, which is upwards of 98 miles an hour. A lacrosse ball is different than a baseball, because it flexes in the air, almost like a bullet. The ball can move two or three inches in either direction on a shot. When a ball hits you, there is an impact that is ridiculous.”
During their playoff run, Coronado defeated the No. 7 seed Santa Fe Christian, No. 3 seed Cathedral Catholic and No. 1 seed Bishop’s. Coronado defeated Cathedral for the third time this season, this time by the score of 10-7. Scoring in the game came from Ferrar and Corpus with three goals each and single goals from Bailey, Rodriguez, Schulte and Kingston De Laurentis. Assists were credited to Ferrar, Bailey, Jack Perkins and Schulte. Goalie Reis Stanley had 11 saves in the game.
One of the smartest plays in the Cathedral game was turned in by defender Jake Shepherd. With Coronado holding a 9-7 lead with 1:26 left in the game, a Dons attack was in front of the goal ready to take a shot attempt, when he was cross-checked by Shepherd. The junior defender earned a one minute penalty, but Coronado was able to kill off the man-up opportunity for the Dons. With 40 seconds left to play, Schulte scored a goal to ice the game and send Coronado into the Division II Finals.
Prospects for a Coronado championship three-peat appear promising as 20 members of the 31-man roster return for next year. Cade is excited about the prospect of an all-senior defense and likes senior-to-be John McCaul in goal. “Having all seniors on defense makes a huge difference,” Cade said. “We haven’t had that for a while. That’s tough to beat.”
Signals from the CIF San Diego Section office seem to indicate that Coronado may be able to petition into Division I next season, a prospect that Cade reflected upon. “I haven’t really thought about it yet. I think as a team we can hang with anyone. We could have been one of the teams in the Division I Final. I’ll talk to the coaching staff and to Athletic Director Robin Nixon, but we’ll probably petition up.”