CLAYTON - Clayton Valley Charter clinched the Diablo Athletic League boys lacrosse title with a decisive victory over Campolindo on Friday night. Although challenged by a strong Campolindo defense and a talented goaltender, Clayton Valley led the entire game, ending with a score of 9-2.
The first 13 minutes of the match were scoreless, with both teams exchanging turnovers until the Ugly Eagles took the lead with two goals in quick succession by junior midfielders Gunner Oakley and Connor Lawson. Control over ground balls and face-offs further bolstered the Ugly Eagles' momentum into the second quarter, which they ended with a score of 5-2.
Camplindo’s strong defense kept the score low, especially the efforts of senior goalie Matt Gagan. Despite being hammered with shots, Gagan contained Clayton Valley Charter to only four goals in the second half.
“Matt was just outstanding tonight in goal, one of his best games all year by far. He kept us in it and came to play,” commented Campolindo coach Colin Knighty.
Clayton Valley Charter’s leading goal scorer was senior captain Torin Neal, who finished the game with five goals, including four goals in the second half. Campolindo’s two goals were scored by senior John Cirelli and sophomore Sam Rack, both in the second quarter.
Clayton Valley Charter also won nine face-offs to Campolindo’s five. The Ugly Eagles head coach, Scott Neal, remarked on the importance of their face-off dominance.
“In this sport, unlike any other sport, when you get scored on, you don’t automatically get the ball back, so the face-off is the most important thing because that gets us the ball," Neal said. "Conor Lawson (our drawtaker) did an absolute amazing job out there today.”
The Ugly Eagles celebrated their first ever DAL title, which Neal credits to the hard work of his players.
“These young men have worked so hard, they deserve this championship," Neal said. "(Our hard work) started in August, reviewing film, scouting other players, the boys working their sticks all the time, practicing on the off days. That’s what leads to this.”
Knightly reflected on the Cougars’ loss and looked towards the possibility of qualifying for the NCS playoffs.
“In lacrosse a big thing is ground balls, and tonight we didn’t win the ground ball," Knightly said. "So that is what we’re going to focus on going into NCS. We’re going to focus on technique, focus on the basics again, and try to win the ground balls.”
Clayton Valley now heads into the NCS Division I playoffs, where the Ugly Eagles will open on Tuesday against Redwood. Campolindo plays in the Division II bracket, and will open against Petaluma.