By Jeremy Balan
Senior attackman Austin Shea had three goals to lead University to its seventh consecutive BCL West title with a 8-6 win over previously undefeated Marin Academy on Friday at Kezar Stadium.
“The one thing about Austin is that he always plays as hard as he can,” said University Co-Head Coach Nick Lockwood. “He’s the heart and soul of our team and as he goes, we go. He played a great game and always does in the big games.”
Shea had two goals in the first quarter that allowed the Red Devils (11-9) to open up a 5-1 lead and added a goal in the fourth quarter after Marin Academy (14-1) had cut the lead to 6-5.
“We really needed to step up [in the fourth quarter],” Shea said. “Me and another senior, Matt Galardi, scored in the fourth quarter. It was a really good effort from the senior class.”
After cutting the lead to 6-5 with 4:15 remaining in the third quarter, Marin Academy appeared to have a chance to tie the game with only seconds remaining in the third, when sophomore Zach Zeff broke free off a fast-break opportunity.
Zeff tried to go low on University senior goaltender Nick Massa, but Massa kicked away the attempt for the biggest of his eight saves.
“I said to Zach, nine out of 10 times you make that shot,” said Marin Academy Head Coach Josh Frechette. “But you gotta give [Massa] credit for making a great save. It was tough and they probably built off that.”
University responded by scoring two quick goals from Galardi and Shea in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
University avenged a 7-5 loss to the Wildcats on April 20, that was only its third loss in BCL West play in three years.
“That game was during a rough streak in our season, where we lost five in a row,” Lockwood said. “It feels good to come back and beat these guys in the championship.”
Marin Academy was led offensively by junior attackman Brett Suddendorf, who had a game-high four goals and an assist.
“He makes it work,” Frechette said of Suddendorf. “He’s the spark for us on the offensive end. He’s exactly what you want. He works hard every single day in practice, he pushes kids to get better and when he comes out in a game, he leaves everything on the field.”
With the win, University clinches an automatic bid to the CIF-North Coast Section playoffs that begin on Wednesday.
“I’m glad we’re moving on to the NCS,” Shea said. “I’ve been here four years and we’ve been to NCS every year, so we’re keeping the tradition going.”
Marin Academy, on the other hand, still needs an at-large bid to gain entry to the 16-team tournament.
“I think we should [get an at-large bid],” Frechette said. “If you’re looking for the top 16 teams, we’re the only undefeated team in Northern California and we go toe-to-toe with University, which is one of the top programs around. We can compete with every team, but we’ll find out on Sunday.”
U – 9:50 – Mani Ghiasi
U – 7:25 – Matt Galardi
U – 7:17 – Austin Shea, assist Noah Handel
MA – 6:27 – Brett Suddendorf
U – 5:34 – Shea
U – 3:29 – Bear Mistele
MA – 2:32 – Suddendorf
U – 7:53 – Mistele
MA – 6:39 – Suddendorf
MA – 3:55 – Sam Korol, assist Everett Barger
MA – 4:15 – Zach Zeff, assist Suddendorf
U – 11:06 – Galardi, assist Henry Steyer
U – 10:14 – Shea
MA – 4:06 – Suddendorf