Midway through the opening quarter at home, the Corona del Mar High boys’ lacrosse team was in an unfamiliar place. The Sea Kings trailed for the first time in the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division playoffs.
After Servite scored the first goal, the top-seeded Sea Kings woke up in a hurry. They produced the next nine goals to cruise to a 9-1 win on Thursday, advancing to the semifinals for the sixth straight year.
Sachin Gokhale got defending South Division champion CdM (17-2) going after Servite’s Alex Paz found the back of the net with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
The Sea Kings’ first seven goals had a lot to do with the senior attacker. Gokhale either scored a goal or assisted on one, giving him four goals and three assists and CdM a 7-1 lead.
“He’s been doing that all year,” CdM Coach G.W. Mix said of Gokhale. “He certainly picks us up when we need it.”
The Sea Kings will need Gokhale in the semifinals. They face No. 4 St. Margaret’s (11-8) at Portola High in Irvine on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
The Tartansdefeated No. 5 Santa Margarita, 15-11, in the quarterfinals at home on Thursday, earning them another shot at CdM. The Sea Kings wonat St. Margaret’s, 12-4, on April 19.
“It’s a big rivalry. It always has been,” Mix said of whenever CdM and St. Margaret’s play. “It’ll be a big game.”
The Tartans are also the last team in Orange County to beat CdM, pulling it off in the semifinals two years ago. Since then, the Sea Kings have been rolling whenever they play a county school, winning 27 in a row.
No. 8 Servite (13-7) never stood a chance at ending the Sea Kings’ winning ways against county opponents. CdM Goalie Kyle Cord didn’t even have to make a save in the first half.
The Sea Kings went into halftime with a 4-1 lead. Gokhale recorded three of the goals, and he assisted on Kyle Young’s first-quarter goal.
The two hooked up a couple of minutes into the second half. Gokhale again found Young, who beat goalie Andrew Garcia. Midway through the third quarter, Gokhale set up Young’s third goal.
Gokhale added his fourth goal with 2½ minutes to go in the third, and Landon Whitney and Chandler Fincher each scored a goal to put CdM ahead by eight.
The only issue for the Sea Kings in knocking off Servite for the second time this year was the amount of penalties they committed. The referees called seven penalties on the Sea Kings. They almost had as many penalties as goals.
“I’d like to think we’re that vicious, but we’re not,” Mix said with a laugh. “But we got through it. To go a man down five, six and seven times, and even one time two men down, and not give up a goal is a nice statement about our defense.”
In two playoff games, CdM has allowed only two goals.
The defense, along with the offense, which is averaging 10 goals per game in the postseason, is clicking for CdM.
“The semifinals have always been one of the most important games for us as a team,” said Gokhale, knowing the Sea Kings are 1-2 in semifinal appearances in the last three years. “If you don’t win in the semifinals, you don’t even get a chance [to play for] the whole thing.”