Boys Lacrosse: St. Ignatius surges in second half to take down Monte Vista

St. Ignatius senior midfielder Will McKee leads a fast break after winning a faceoff against Monte Vista on Thursday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

The best boys lacrosse team in California does its best work in the second half.

In its most important games of the season, St. Ignatius has allowed opponents to hang around for a half before hitting the gas pedal, and that was the case again on Thursday in the first round of the Jerry Langkammerer Invitational hosted by SI.

The Wildcats were tied with visiting Monte Vista of Danville 2-2 midway through the second quarter and only held a 4-2 lead at the half, but outscored the Mustangs 7-1 in the third quarter to cruise to a 13-4 win.

St. Ignatius senior Chad Cohan winds up for a shot against Monte Vista on Thursday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“It’s just the way it’s been happening,” said St. Ignatius head coach Chris Packard. “We are a team that always has a run in us and in the last couple of games, coming out of the locker room here at home, we’ve had productive third quarters.”

Duke-bound senior attackman Chad Cohan and sophomore attackman Joe Lang led the Wildcats (13-0) with five goals apiece and Lang added two assists, but the offense was spurred by a dominating performance from captain Will McKee.

The senior midfielder won a staggering 19-of-22 faceoffs, including 12 in a row in the second half, allowing the Wildcats to control possession throughout.

“It’s a luxury.” Packard said of McKee’s ability on faceoffs. “He’s just exceptional at it and he works at it. You gotta have a guy out there if he gets you possession almost every time he’s out on the field.”

Monte Vista (8-2), ranked by laxpower.com and westsidelax.com as a Top 10 program in the state, struggled to keep up offensively in the second half and appeared to tire on the defensive end.

“I thought we outplayed them in the first half, but in the second half their offense was too good,” Monte Vista coach Mike Lembrecht said. “When you have a good faceoff guy, you can really get on a roll.”

What kept score respectable and kept the Mustangs in the game early was the play of senior goalkeeper Gus Gradinger, who made 17 saves, including multiple from point-blank range.

“He was unbelievable and I thought he was the best player on the field, and I don’t say that very often about an opponent,” Packard said. “We haven’t ran into a hot goalie like that in a while.”

The Mustangs also had early success frustrating the St. Ignatius offense with a tight matchup zone defense.

“It’s the wave of the lacrosse future — the zone defense,” Packard said. “We have a zone offense and we got the looks we wanted, we just weren’t executing. Our style is not conducive to play against the zone because we want to play up-tempo.”

Monte Vista senior goalkeeper Gus Gradinger makes a save against St. Ignatius on Thursday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

The Wildcats often got in positions to score against the zone early, but big saves from Gradinger, misplayed passes and off-target shots led to missed opportunities. SI cleaned up those mistakes in the second half, however, and the scoreboard reflected it.

“[Gradinger] was the best player on the field today, but he’s just one man,” Lembrecht said. “The credit goes to SI. They are one of the best high school teams I’ve ever seen.”

With the game in hand, the Wildcats did not take their foot off the gas pedal, causing tense moments in the final minutes, but Packard and his players feel that every matchup against the top teams in the state is a chance to prove the program is more than just a West-Coast power.

“It’s not what we set out to do, but there are still a lot of naysayers about St. Ignatius,” Packard said. “We’ve been successful, but we’ve never been considered a top program. Our guys feel that we’re here and that we’ve arrived. They want to come out and execute, be productive and do what they love.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter
MV: 2:45 – Rick Emerson, assist David Ehlers
SI: 0:37 – Joe Lang

Second Quarter
SI: 7:47 – Chad Cohan, assist JW McGovern
MV: 5:38 – Ben Spencer, assist Travis Turley
SI: 5:25 – Cohan, assist Lang
SI: 4:27 – Matt Emery

Third Quarter
SI: 9:14 – Cohan, assist McGovern
SI: 8:11 – David Fleming
SI: 6:03 – Cohan, assist Cullen Vincelette
SI: 5:10 – Lang
SI: 4:19 – Cohan, assist Chad Bell
MV: 2:46 – Sam Lagon, assist Turley
SI: 0:44 – Lang
SI: 0:21 – Philip Alimam, assist Lang

Fourth Quarter
MV: 3:38 – Langon, assist Mikey Garrigan
SI: 3:09 – Lang
SI: 2:40 – Lang, assist Emery

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48 Comments

  1. steve says:

    no one cares about lacrosee. for a bunch of marin kids, city kids play real sports.

  2. WCAL Alum says:

    Lacrosse is a real sport, just not very traditional on West Coast. However, with influx of families with East coast roots moving to suburbs and penchant for sending their kids to SI that has an established program, it does seem foreign to people with City roots.

    It is also a great trade-off for baseball as it is easier to pick-up v. learning to hit a baseball.

  3. WCAL Fan says:

    JJ,

    SI has a “miles-traveled” rule for all sports team that prevents the lacrosse team (as well as Crew – another tremendously successful program at the school) from traveling to the East Coast to play tougher competition. The best they’ve been able to do is schedule top opponents at tournaments, usually in Southern California, and hope that one of the East Coast schools with the athletic budget to do so will come west.

    • Josh Weinstein says:

      The SI boys lacrosse team this season played in a tournament in Texas where they went undefeated.

      If you think SI lacrosse players are inferior to their east coast counterparts, let me give you two examples. Rob Emery (SI class of 2010) won the NCAA Championship as a freshman at Virginia. Roy Lang (SI class of 2008) was named First Team All American last season at Cornell. Lang became the first player ever from a west high school to be named an All American in NCAA lacrosse.

      SI can beat an east coast team and their players as already shown through the last few years in all star tournaments on the east coast in the off season.

  4. JJ says:

    Texas is a football state. Until SI plays a lacrosse team from NY, I think they will be considered as the Boise State of high school lacrosse.

    • City Lights says:

      Well said.

      By the way JJ, when does the SI polo team start offseason workouts?

      • jdazzle says:

        True, but just because they don’t play a teams NY doesn’t mean they are not better than them. I have no doubt that best team in the Western United states could take on many of the teams from hotbed areas.

  5. Josh Weinstein says:

    @JJ and @City Lights sound like bitter Sacred Heart (Cathedral) grads that are behind the times making fun of students who play lacrosse and anyone from Marin. Wow. Let’s not get into the whole debate of students who are athletes at SHCP and are not from The City. I can already name a few impact ones at SHCP that without the school would have not won some recent championships.

    Just a reminder, SI sat out all of their starters for the entire lacrosse game yesterday. Early in the 3rd quarter it was SI 13 SHCP 2. Nice learning effort by the SHCP players and they will get better over time. It’s great to see the Irish and the Cats on the field on the varsity level in one more sport.

    Again @JJ many current SI players play in All Star tournaments on the east coast against so called better players from NY and constantly beat those teams. And when the SI players make the jump to college, they are NCAA champions (Rob Emery) and All Americans (Roy Lang).

    • JJ says:

      I’m not a SH grad, I went to SI a long time ago. There was even a high-school All-American lacrosse player at SI when I went there named Yancey Wade. I never went to a lacrosse match when I went to SI. I don’t even think SI played many games because I doubt there was any lacrosse leagues in the Bay Area at that time. Like someone already mentioned, the team is made up mostly of Marin kids. I lived in San Francisco and only went to the SI football and basketball games. De La Salle plays football teams from Louisiana, Florida. Etc. in football, so they are considered a national football powerhouse; until SI does the same thing and play other lacrosse powerhouses from the East Coast, SI will be considered the Boise State of lacrosse, plain and simple.

    • Chris says:

      Mr. Weinstein, I can assure you no one cares about Lacrosse, at least no one that is really from this city. That may change in the future, but yeah, No true San Franciscian ever cared about that sport :)

      • jbalan says:

        I think that’s a pretty ridiculous thing to say. Over 800,000 residents in San Francisco and none care about high school lacrosse? I can think of several born-and-raised San Franciscans who care about lacrosse and I’ve only lived here for three years.

      • M Air J says:

        You are correct Mr. Balan, this is a very ridiculous thing to say. I am born and raised in SF and I attend several lacrosse matches. I believe Chris is bitter because his school just picked up the sport and are going through some growing pains.

        • Chris says:

          I did not intend to disrespect anyone. I did say maybe in the future it will be a bigger thing in SF…I am only saying “generally” no one cared about Lacrosse when we were growing up in the city. I am not bitter, I could care less if Washington, Riordan, SH, or any other school SF played Lacrosse.

          • City Lights says:

            Whatever you say “Josh Weinstein”. I’m definitely not bitter and I’m also not an SHC grad. It’s hilarious that you would say I’d be bitter if I was an SHC grad though considering SHC has the trophy and Coach Barbour owns Coach Reardon. PWNED

            Yeah yeah I know “on that magical night at AT&T park, once-in-a-lifetime, blah blah blah…”

            Hilarious. Any by the way I’m laughing at you and not with you.

            • Josh Weinstein says:

              Just a reminder @City Lights, SHCP may have the Bruce Mahoney trophy this year but SI has won it the trophy 45 times to SHCP’s 20 times. And SI has won the trophy 12 times in the last 14 years with a winning streak of 10 years in there. It really is statistically, hardly a rivalry.

              That’s A LOT of red: http://www.siprep.org/page.cfm?p=599

              I’ll give you the past year in hoops though and the great job Coach B has done at SHCP. I like him and his calm leadership and results. We will see how good a coach he really is without great players like Johns, Fox, and Petroni next season.

      • Josh Weinstein says:

        Yancey Wade was never an All American lacrosse player in college, let alone a First Team All American like Roy Lang. That was the intent of my comment. That Roy Lang is the first COLLEGE First Team All American. Reading comprehension? C’mon you went to SI.

  6. SI Sports Radio says:

    It’s a rematch of last season’s WCAL lacrosse championship on SI Sports Radio with SI vs. Bellarmine. Listen live with your computer, smart phone, iPad, or iPod Touch on Wednesday, April 18th at 320pm. SI is currently has the best record in the USA at 16-0. Click on the link to listen…

    http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/siprep.portal#

  7. Roll Cats says:

    @JJ and all other naysayers

    To say that SI, the students of SI, the city of San Francisco, the state of California, and the entire West Coast has little interest in lacrosse is absolutely preposterous. And by no means is SI a team made up entirely of “Marin Kids”.

    Chad Cohan (Town School)- Duke Lacrosse commit and one of (if not thee) leading goal scorer(s) for the team that has the best record in the country.

    Matt Emery (Town School)- #2 recruit in ALL OF THE COUNTRY for the Class of 2013, already committed to University of Virginia where he’ll likely start on the same line as his future All American brother Rob on the Number 1 team in the nation as a freshman. Meanwhile J.J., you can catch him as Jack Stinn’s leading receiver next year as he’s back from a back injury.

    Peter Doyle (Stuart Hall)-Committed to Princeton, excellent midfielder who usually puts his name on the scoring sheet in big games (see SRV, Monte Vista, De La Salle, Brophy, Rancho, etc)

    Charlie Ford (city of San Carlos)- This one’s open for criticism cause he’s not from the city, but he ain’t from Marin either. The Long stick middie is the #48 recruit in the class of 2013 and will be taking his talents to Georgetown (think big time east coast program for the uninformed).

    Jack McGovern (ST. BRENDAN)- Deserves all caps because he’s the truest city kid on the team, and everyone recognizes the St. Brendan name. McGovern is SI’s top defender and will often mark the opponent’s best player. Cats rely heavily on McGovern (see Brophy game when he took the ACT and Ghelfi dropped 4 on the Cats) and he will likely commit to a top 25 program.

    Stu Donlon (St. Vincent De Paul)- Starting defender, city kid, can also be seen in the CCS Football championship highlight video sacking Jack Harrington.

    Cole Stiegerwald (Stuart Hall)- Sophomore talent who shares time and often starts on defense. One of only 3 sophomores on the team, will likely go on to a D1 career.

    Cyrus Scott (Town School)- Starting Goalkeeper (will be a 4 year starter in goal for the Cats) who will likely compile the best record of any SI player ever because of the amount of starts he’ll earn over 4 years. Scott is a top recruit and one of a handful of Sophomore’s to make the Under Armour Underclassmen All-American team.

    Looks to me J.J. like the majority of SI’s starters hail from the city, and not to mention two other phenoms, McKee and McGovern, hail from Oakland. Let’s see, that leaves all of 2 starters, Evans and Lang, who come from Marin. Oh, and I forgot to mention all the kids on the roster from the city who dominate WCAL play while the guys above rest for the big games.

    SI students take pride in lacrosse and the majority of the school loves and respects the athletes for putting the school on the national map. SI is a widely respected lacrosse school on the East Coast as guys like Roy Lang, Rob Emery, Alex Capretta, and so many others play and dominate D1 lacrosse. So no need to take our talents to the East Coast during high school to prove ourselves if the kids are able to prove it soon after.

    Come time for the WCAL Championship, I can also guarantee the student turnout will be high because the student body is genuinely interested in lacrosse. You’ll see more kids there than at the baseball games, and that’s a team that has succeeded as well this year.

    Calling your alma mater the Boise State of lacrosse may be fair, because we play in a weak conference, dominate it year in and year out, and make appearances on the national scene when we’re really good (like this year). However, Boise’s moving up to a bigger and better conference and anyone who studies WCAL sports knows that the WCAL is elite in everything, so expect that in lacrosse as well in a few years.

    What I’m getting at is that as lacrosse becomes more and more ingrained in youth sports in San Francisco (and you cannot deny that this is the case because my bios prove it), then sooner or later, SI will not just garner the respect of the people who know lacrosse, the team will get respect from people like you.

    • JJ says:

      Any SI lacrosse players from the Bayview or Mission district?

      • Ari Gold says:

        I like the Wildcat on Wildcat crime… Makes an interesting read.

      • M Air J says:

        I believe JJ is saying that lacrosse is an elitist sport, which it does tend to be. I still don’t understand the bayview or Mission reference as he is SI basketball and Domingo’s biggest fan yet Domingo is from Pacific heights and the majority of the kids on the team aren’t from the Mission or bayview.

        • JJ says:

          What district does Trevor Dunbar live?

        • JJ says:

          The SI lacrosse team is made up of Marin kids, guys who went to exclusive schools like Stuart Hall or Town, or players who’s parents have a membership to the Olympic Club. At least the basketball team has a greater representation of San Francisco.

          • M Air J says:

            JJ…let me get this strait? So you’re logic is because these kids may be more affluent than the kids who play basketball, you feel the need to denigrate their accomplishments? How does that make any sense. As an alumni, you should be proud of the fact that you have an (pardon my pun) elite team at SI. As much hot air you blow about the SI hoops team being great and Domingo (who is also from an affluent background) being all world and NBA bound, in actuality, both him and the team were well below average this year. Instead of putting down the lacrosse team who is the best on the west coast, you should be celebrating their accomplishments.

            What else is ironic and somewhat hypocritical of you is you are talking about basketball is more reflective of San Francisco and you mention Bayview or the inner city in an earlier post. Yet, you took the following shot at Dunbar (I cut and pasted this from one of your posts) “SI’s point guard was pretty good, but you don’t get 2 points for making your defender fall down and trip over his shoelaces”.

            You act as if you want more diversity or inner city kids represented yet you take a shot at “inner city” style of play of Dunbar while touting your affluent player, ” Your opinion is that Dunbar was the best player on SI, but I believe Domingo was the BMOC of SI. Maybe you might like Obama, but I like Romney.” And to top it off, it sounds like you are voting for the “affluent and elitist” candidate for office of the POTUS yet don’t like lacrosse because it is elitist.

            You my friend are a walking oxymoron…a liberal elitist!

    • hoops fan says:

      I agree, to say “nobody in the city cares” about lacrosse is a little outlandish. There is a thriving lacrosse program at SI and the sport has slowly crept into SF public schools, enough to field teams. However, I think the point that was trying to be made here, is that lacrosse is not popular sport–with regard to sport participation–in the city with relation to other team sports. And this is largely attributed to scarce availability and accessibility of resources in many neighborhoods in the city. Lacrosse is a very expensive sport–equipment, team dues, tourny fees, etc.–and because of this, is viewed as an upper middle class sport.

      • WCAL Alum says:

        As my earlier post indicates, lacrosse is a tough and upcoming sports option (to baseball). However, Town School, Stuart Hall, SVDP??? Not exactly a cross-section of San Francisco. Curious, dont a few Town/Stuart hall kids hail from Marin?

      • City Lights says:

        Kinda like hockey eh?

  8. JJ says:

    I think Vollert will be Jack Stinn’s go-to WR, not Emery. Nice write-up, though, I’ll give you that.

    • Josh Weinstein says:

      Nah, SI will run the ball with Watters and the running back who dominated the entire league on the WCAL champion JV team, Elijah Dale. If SH can’t stop the run like they couldn’t in the CCS Championship game, then SI will continue to run the ball at the Irish. Too easy.

      • JJ says:

        Without Valentino Miles, SI should beat SHC by 2 TD’s. Stinn to Vollert seemed like a good connection similar to the QB-WR combination of Culpepper to Moss. Watters needs to concentrate on defense, as I think he’s more productive in the defensive side of the ball.

  9. steve says:

    The only real city kids are McGovern and Donlon, the rest go to Town school and Stuart Hall. Which is being like from marin. You don’t understand what we are trying to say. No one I know really cares about lax unless you hail from a school like Stuart Hall or Town. It’s for a bunch of rich, preppy kids.

    • jbalan says:

      Considering your claims about lacrosse players, your comments are ironically elitist. No one you know cares about lacrosse, therefore it is not worth mention. If you don’t like that we cover the sport, don’t read the articles.

  10. Ari Gold says:

    Jeremy Balan, since demographics and social class seem to be dominating this topic, can you also touch the topic of ethnic background of all the lacrosse athletes youve seen this year? I dont think I’m going out on a limb here by stating that LAX is mostly a caucasian-ladened sport. Dont see too many african american or hispanic kids playing.

    Perhaps white families can afford this expensive sport? Just like golf? The interest may be there for the minorities, but economic factors probably do have a say. Thats why basketball is by far the best sport because the talent reaches all ethnic backgrounds so theres no doubt about whether or not this certain ethnicities plays better than another. They all can play and doesnt cost as much as some other sports.

    I’d love to see african american kids in the city be able to play the other sports. It gives those sports diversity and opens up interest of future kids to those sports.

    • jbalan says:

      I’m not going to speculate what ethnic background, family income or “social class” any players in any sport are/have, because frankly I don’t care and I largely don’t know. It doesn’t factor into how we cover the City or direct coverage, nor should take away from the accomplishments of student athletes.

      We cover high school athletics at schools with San Francisco addresses. Whether it’s a team of all one racial background or mixed does not make a difference to me.

      • Ari Gold says:

        Right on JB… Sticking to your guns and dont make waves. I accept that. I guess if I wanted a more in-depth answer I’d have to ask Bob Ley and ESPN Outside the Lines because all that should matter is whats between the lines.

        • jbalan says:

          At some point over the summer, we may take on some issues similar to this, but maybe involving demographics and competitiveness in sports in the City. I have some feature/enterprise stories planned. Stay tuned.

          • Ari Gold says:

            Im sure you will put out an outstanding article JB, just be very careful regarding that topic as even demographics and competitiveness will open a pandora’s box of opinions from the peanut gallery.

  11. Mike F. says:

    Where is the Goalie playing next year? And is the goalie related to the Torrey Pines Gradinger brothers? Wow…some genes they must have.

  12. Josh Weinstein says:

    @Ari Gold, Will McKee a starter on the SI lacrosse team and one of the best faceoff guys in the country is African American as are other players on the SI JV team. Do you need the breakdowns of Asians, Latinos, native Americans, etc. for your minority report, Ari?

  13. Josh Weinstein says:

    And if you ever see what the junior high schools kids play during PE next door at SI at AP Giannini? It’s a couple hundred kids all playing lacrosse in their cement school yard.

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