CORONA DEL MAR — Aly Vislocky is in her third season in charge of the Corona del Mar High girls' lacrosse team. There was one thing she came to expect in her first two seasons.
One team in the Pacific Coast League always gave the Sea Kings fits.
"In the years past, in all honesty, we approached [the] Beckman [game] as an impossible victory," Vislocky said. "My girls know they can do it this year."
The Sea Kings' first chance this year to prove they can beat the Patriots failed, but not as miserably as in the past.
In a matchup of two undefeated league teams, Beckman stayed perfect after picking up a 22-13 victory at CdM Monday. But the Sea Kings fought back after going down by nine goals.
That would not have happened in the previous three years against the defending league champion Patriots.
Twice, CdM's Tiffany Paladin cut the deficit to three goals in the second half. The Sea Kings went on an 8-1 run and Beckman's lead was just 14-11. They even got Beckman Coach Tom Messmer to call a timeout and he was not happy about it.
Someone at the scorer's table joked that Messmer is the Phil Jackson of high school girls' lacrosse. He does not need to call timeouts with the amount of talent at Beckman, which is ranked No. 11 in the state by laxpower.com.
Messmer looked concerned for a moment.
"I had a lot of my starters out when we got up, 12-4 [early in the second half]," Messmer said. "I started putting in subs. I would've liked to play my subs more.
"In every one of these [games] we find some stuff that we need to work on. I wasn't happy with our defense. I was good with our play on 80% of the field. It was the last 20% that was a little weak."
Vislocky believes the Sea Kings (7-5, 3-1 in league) are narrowing the gap between them and the Patriots (8-1, 3-0).
CdM did not prevail, but at least it recorded double-digit goals for the first time against Beckman since April 24, 2007, when the Sea Kings beat Beckman, 15-14. They have not defeated the Patriots since then.
Beckman claimed its eighth straight league contest against CdM.
Paladin did her best to help the Sea Kings stay close. She scored her third goal on a beautiful give-and-go play with Molly Rovzar with 11:53 left to play.
The Sea Kings only trailed, 15-12, but Allie Lehner, Beckman's scoring machine, swung the momentum back to the Patriots' side.
A CdM turnover near midfield led to a quick counterattack by the Patriots. Lehner finished things with a goal, sparking a 7-0 run in which she produced three goals.
No one could stop the UC Davis-bound senior, who only needed 14 shots to notch a game-high nine goals. The Patriots seemed to find Lehner every time near the goal.
"They're able to really pass and catch in really high competitive situations," Vislocky said of the Patriots. "Their stick skills are amazing. They won't drop the ball."
The ball usually dropped inside the goal for Beckman in the first 13 minutes of play.
The Patriots jumped out to a 6-0 lead, leaving Vislocky to question whether the Sea Kings were on the same level with Beckman, which reached the semifinals of the U.S. Lacrosse Orange County Southern Section Division I playoffs last year.
"I was like, 'Is this really happening?' " Vislocky said.
Rovzar ended CdM's scoring drought. She found the back of the net with 11:51 left in the first half. It was the first of two goals by the sophomore, who also added two assists.
Rovzar's second goal came during CdM's surge in the second half. Rovzar, Rhylie Nese, Torrey Attyah and Kacie Kline each scored during a 5-0 run. Attyah had two of the goals, her third came on a wraparound shot.
Even though Beckman ran away with the game late, Messmer sees a more improved CdM team.
"Last year, they had a really hot goalie that kept them in games, but this year they're really running the field well," said Messmer, who went on to praise CdM's Gabby Smith (two goals). "They've got a handful of people around [Smith]. A lot of these teams have one or two kids, and they're pretty easy to shut down. She has kids around her."