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Defense propels CdM boys' lacrosse to title match

IRVINE — The Corona del Mar High boys' lacrosse team can't seem to avoid St. Margaret's when it comes to the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division Playoffs. Saturday marked the third straight year the two teams have met in the playoffs.

Last year, the Sea Kings took down the Tartans in the championship match and in 2015, the Tartans beat the Sea Kings in the semifinals. That game was the last time the Sea Kings lost to an Orange County team.

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Ever since that loss, CdM has not lost to a team from Orange County. The Sea Kings continued that trend by beating St. Margaret's and beating their 28th Orange County opponent in a row, this time in the semifinals, 13-4 on Saturday at Portola High.

The top-ranked Sea Kings (18-2) will play third-seeded Foothill in the county championship match on Wednesday at Irvine High at 7:30 p.m. The Knights upset No. 2-seeded San Clemente 14-9 in the other semifinal.

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Against the fourth-seeded Tartans (11-9), the Sea Kings were never in any danger. Just like in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Sea Kings' defense stifled their opponent.

The Sea Kings shut out the Tartans for the first half, and even when the Sea Kings had a man down, goalie Kyle Cord was there to make a save. The Tartans broke CdM's shutout thanks to Andy Shin scoring at the 7:59 mark of the third quarter.

"The defense did a terrific job holding them to four goals, but they also did a really nice job of playing good solid team defense and not letting them go on any runs," Sea Kings Coach G.W. Mix said.

After Shin had scored for St. Margaret's, the Sea Kings started to pull away, as they scored three straight goals to give them a comfortable 8-1 lead. After that, the Sea Kings never looked back, as they were on their way to the county championship match for the second straight year.

"We moved the ball really well and the kids did a terrific job of playing unselfish offense," Mix said.

The Sea Kings and the Tartans played each other in the regular season, where the Sea Kings won 12-4 on April 19 at St. Margaret's.

The Sea Kings were led by Will Favreau and Kyle Young who each had three goals, while Gokhale Sachin and Ryan Meckler had two goals apiece, with Sachin chipping in four assists. Bobby Purcifull, Nick Pulgia and Blaine Nelsen had one goal apiece and Cord made eight saves.

"We've been working hard all year and we worked hard for each other. It's been an incredible season so far and I can't wait for Wednesday," Nelsen said.

Shin and Kevin Groeninger each had two goals for St. Margaret's. Goalie Zane Handy made seven saves for the Tartans.

The Sea Kings will get a chance to defend their county championship crown, as they play Foothill for the second time this season. CdM and Foothill met in the regular season with CdM winning 11-4.

Mix expects the Sea Kings to be ready for the Knights, who outscored San Clemente 8-3 in the second half after it was tied 6-6 at halftime.

"It's going to take a great effort. They're a good team, they're very well coached. We're going to have to be well prepared and we're going to have to play extremely well and extremely hard," Mix said.

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