CORONA DEL MAR — "This one's for Moose."
So read the back of the T-shirts worn by the Corona del Mar High boys' lacrosse team, coaches and fans Saturday. The Sea Kings didn't really need extra motivation for the Battle of the Bay game against rival Newport Harbor, but "Moose" provided some.
Warren "Moose" Mix is the father of CdM Coach G.W. Mix. In recent days "Moose" has been ill, in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. G.W. Mix went to Maryland for more than a week to be with his father and his family, only getting back into Orange County late Friday night.
G.W. Mix said his dad is slowly getting better. His host Sea Kings upheld their part of the bargain, defeating Newport Harbor, 10-4, for their seventh straight Battle of the Bay victory.
Mix credited his assistant coaches, Jeremy Sieverts, Devin Arkison and Mike Ortlieb, as well as junior varsity coach Andy Chalupa, for keeping the Sea Kings running strong during his absence.
"Maybe I'll just go on vacation for the rest of the year and see what happens," Mix joked.
The Sea Kings (8-0), ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section by laxpower.com, continue to roll. They jumped out to a 3-0 advantage after a quarter against the Sailors, as Jack Ortlieb, Chris Von Der Ahe and Michael Keasey all scored.
Keasey, a senior midfielder headed for Yale, was not done. He added two more goals in the second quarter for a hat trick, helping the Sea Kings to a 6-2 advantage.
"It was sloppy for a lot of the beginning of it," Keasey said. "We made some big plays and picked up some key ground balls that put us in positions to score some goals."
Jack Ortlieb, senior Hunter Molnar and junior Casey Mix each scored two goals for CdM. Brett Nelson and Jay Damon each had assists. Holy Cross-bound senior goalie Michael Ortlieb made 12 saves, anchoring a defense that also included seniors Erik Fisher (four ground balls won) and Connor Canale (three ground balls).
When Ortlieb couldn't make the save, CdM didn't necessarily lose momentum. Senior Taylor Epp won 14 of 18 faceoffs for CdM.
"If they would score a goal, we felt pretty confident that we would at least get a chance to answer," G.W. Mix said. "He provided that opportunity for us."
Newport Harbor (6-4), which had a six-match winning streak snapped, hung around. The Sailors pulled with 8-4 early in the fourth quarter, when Kole Escher found the back of the net. Newport Harbor had several chances to get closer, but couldn't convert. Then Jack Ortlieb scored on the other end, on a pass from Nelson, to again widen the lead.
Newport Harbor Coach Mark Todd, formerly the head man at CdM, said he was pleased with the Sailors' progress. Alex Opyd had two goals and an assist, and defender Jack Murrel also scored. Luke Toohey had an assist.
Andrew Wilson led Newport Harbor with eight ground balls and seven takeaways, and goalie Zac Vayda made four saves.
The Sailors have been dealing with plenty of injuries. Attacker Jake Turner, one of Newport's top scorers, tore his ACL in a recent game.
"We haven't played a game all season with all 10 starters, but you know, we carry 35 guys on the roster for a reason," Todd said. "Our bench is really coming through … It's a good cross-town rivalry. I hope that we get to see them in the playoffs and maybe return the favor this time."
Last year the Sea Kings beat the Sailors, 13-9, in the first round of the U.S. Lacrosse Orange County Southern Section Division I playoffs. This year CdM has higher aspirations.
"We still have a lot of big games ahead of us and still a lot more to prove," Keasey said. "We've just got to get back to work on Monday."