CdM boys' lacrosse captures first Orange County crown

DANA POINT — The Corona del Mar High boys' lacrosse team stayed perfect and it pulled off the feat in a game it failed to win the last two times.

The contest is the biggest one in Orange County every year.

In their third trip to the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division finale in four years, the Sea Kings can call themselves champions.

Top-seeded CdM grabbed the lead first and never trailed. The Sea Kings finished their opponent this time, beating third-seeded San Clemente, 9-6, at Dana Hills High on Wednesday night.

No team this season has touched CdM, which improved to 23-0. There is one more game left for the Sea Kings, the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section title game. The South Division champ faces the North Division champ from Los Angeles County.

The Sea Kings' debut in the contest will come against Palos Verdes, which defeated Pacific Palisades, 13-4, in the North Division finale.

The main event features two of the top-ranked programs in the state by with the same nickname. No. 5 CdM goes up against No. 6 Palos Verdes (20-2) on Saturday at Mission Viejo High at 1 p.m.

"We'll find out who the real Sea King is," CdM Coach G.W. Mix said with a smile.

Getting there just isn't enough for Mix and his Sea Kings.

What fueled the Sea Kings was making history. They had all the motivation.

They remembered how close the program came in 2009 and '10 to winning the Orange County crown. Players like Hunter Molnar and Casey Mix saw how their older brothers fell short in those two years.

This year, it was Molnar and Mix's turn to lead the Sea Kings' attack, along with Jack Ortlieb and Michael Keasey. To get back to the title game, CdM in the semifinals had to knock off Foothill, which owned the county title the past five years.

"I was part of the team [my] sophomore year that lost [to Foothill in the title game] and it didn't really hit me as hard as it hit some of the seniors," Keasey said.

In his senior year, Keasey made sure CdM came out a winner.

When the Sea Kings reached Wednesday's championship game, in the way was San Clemente (15-7). The Tritons ended CdM's season in the quarterfinals last season. The Sea Kings remembered and they jumped on San Clemente first.

For the first four minutes, the Sea Kings swung the ball around, waiting for the best opportunity to strike. They were patient on the offensive zone, the Tritons giving the Sea Kings little room to maneuver near the cage.

Molnar then created his own space. The senior spun around from the right side to put CdM ahead with 7:08 left in the opening quarter.

Almost two minutes later, Molnar broke free, racing the other way on a fastbreak opportunity. He put away a pass from Ortlieb and CdM went ahead, 2-0.

The advantage didn't last long. Late in the first quarter, San Clemente tied it after Robbie Burns and Jordan Riggs each found the back of the net.

While San Clemente had a couple of legit scorers, CdM displayed a balanced threat. The Sea Kings opened the second quarter by scoring five straight unassisted goals, starting with Brett Nelson, followed by Keasey, Chris Von Der Ahe, Connor Canale and Ortlieb.

At halftime, CdM led, 7-3. The defense only allowed one goal in the third quarter. Goalie Michael Ortlieb looked brilliant for CdM, finishing with nine saves.

Two of the Holy Cross-bound senior's best saves came early in the fourth quarter, when the Tritons, down three goals, played with a sense of urgency. Each time San Clemente closed within striking distance in the final quarter, Keasey made plays.

The Yale-bound midfielder recorded his second goal at the 7:50 mark. Nearly two minutes later, Keasey assisted on Molnar's third goal. Molnar celebrated, knowing he and the Sea Kings were on their way to making history.

He remembered the conversation he had to with his older brother, Noah Molnar, a 2009 CdM graduate, who now plays lacrosse at Lehigh University, before the game.

"He gave me phone call … and just cheered me on, [saying], 'You got to do what I couldn't,'" Molnar said. "I know he's so proud of me. They started the program and we've just followed in their footsteps. We just got to take it to the next level on Saturday."

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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