Michael Ortlieb doesn’t want the spotlight just on him.
The other day, a photographer came out to take photos of Ortlieb, the goalie for the Corona del Mar High boys’ lacrosse team. Instead of a photo shoot with only Ortlieb, the senior asked if his defenders could pose in the photos.
The team’s motto is “All in.” There was Ortlieb, all in, looking tough with the players responsible for much of his success.
Ortlieb is the first to say he’s not the only reason why CdM is undefeated through 16 games of the season. There’s no arguing that he has played a big role for the Sea Kings, ranked No. 7 in the state by laxpower.com.
They’re off to the second best start in the program’s history. Three years ago, CdM began the season with 17 straight wins.
Back then, Ortlieb wasn’t a goalie. He was a freshman attacker, a position in which you’re supposed to score goals.
The switch to stopping goals wasn’t an easy one for Ortlieb.
The idea to move to goalie wasn’t Ortlieb’s. At times as a kid, he played in front of the cage. But he always saw himself as a scorer.
The Sea Kings got a new head coach, G.W. Mix, before Ortlieb’s junior season. Mix broached the idea to Ortlieb to come out for goalie.
“He told me he went through the same situation in high school, playing attack and then switching to goalie,” Ortlieb said. “He turned out to be a great player at [the University of Pennsylvania].”
Ortlieb was still reluctant about his new role. He stopped questioning it after figuring out why Mix asked him to play goalie.
“I knew it would benefit the team,” Ortlieb said.
Ortlieb turned in his stick for one with a bigger head. The Holy Cross-bound goalie has put it to good use, making save after save in his final season with the Sea Kings.
The real season to Ortlieb starts next month. The U.S. Lacrosse Orange County Southern Division I playoffs are right around the corner.
The Sea Kings have three games left, two in Pacific Coast League play, before the postseason begins. They are trying to wrap up their fifth straight undefeated league title and first undefeated regular season before the playoffs.
The Sea Kings competed in a playoff-caliber tournament last week in San Francisco.
During spring break, the Sea Kings decided to play lacrosse, rather than play at the beach. In the past, Ortlieb said the Sea Kings split up the break, the first part they spent playing games and practicing, and the second part players went their separate ways to have fun.
Ortlieb and the Sea Kings stuck together and they enjoyed their time. They traveled up north in a chartered bus, singing and goofing around.
Once the Sea Kings arrived, they took care of business.
In three days, CdM played three well-known Bay Area programs during the prestigious Jerry Langkammer Invitational at St. Ignatius Prep. The Sea Kings won each game by an average of six goals per game.
Their opponents, Atherton Menlo, Kentfield Marin Catholic and San Jose Bellarmine Prep, never scored more than five goals against Ortlieb. He has been that stingy all season long.
Opponents are averaging less than four goals a game. Ortlieb doesn’t have to say why he’s done so well, because the reasons surrounded him during the recent photo shoot. There was Kyle Sherburne and Erik Fisher to Ortlieb’s right, and Matt English behind him, and then Connor Cruse, Hugh Crance and Frasier Anderson to the left.
The six defenders protect Ortlieb, one of the team’s captains.
“Most of them played varsity football and they have brought that championship mentality to the lacrosse team,” said Ortlieb, referring to Fisher, English, Anderson, Sherburne and Crance, members of CdM’s CIF Southern Section Southern Division football championship team in December. “They have picked up the game fairly quickly and their stick skills have come a long way.”
Ortlieb and the defense has benefited from going up against a potent offense at practice. One of those special scorers is Ortlieb’s younger brother, Jack, a junior attacker, who leads the team in goals. Like most siblings, the two are competitive, at home and on the field.
“We want those bragging rights,” Ortlieb said. “Who scored the most goals? Who blocked the most goals?”
When they settle who won, it is Ortlieb’s job to take his brother and another attacker, Casey Mix, the son’s coach, to practice to go at it once again.
Born: June 11, 1993
Hometown: Newport Beach
Weight: 160 pounds
Sport: Boys’ lacrosse
Coach: G.W. Mix
Favorite food: Tri-tip steak
Favorite movie: “American Gangster”
Favorite athletic moment: “When I had the opportunity to accept a spot on the Holy Cross lacrosse team.”
Week in review: Ortlieb helped CdM go 3-0 during the prestigious Jerry Langkammer Invitational at St. Ignatius Prep in San Francisco.