CORONA DEL MAR — Jack Ortlieb, as he has done the past three games, stood on the sideline Thursday, rather than play for the Corona del Mar High boys’ lacrosse team.
A hamstring injury forced one of the team’s best players to miss his fourth straight game. Two of those have come during the start of the Sea Kings’ U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division title defense.
If CdM really needed him, Coach G.W. Mix said Ortlieb could’ve played in the quarterfinals at home against Beckman. The Sea Kings didn’t have to use Ortlieb to get past Beckman.
The top-seeded Sea Kings routed a former Pacific Coast League rival, 18-5, and advanced to the semifinals.
Come Saturday, CdM expects Ortlieb, a Holy Cross-bound attacker, to return. The Sea Kings will need him against fourth-seeded JSerra at Aliso Niguel High for a shot to repeat as champions.
“As long as we can have him for Saturday, which I know we will, we’ll be fine,” said Casey Mix, the team’s other attacker.
Mix handled much of the scoring duties for CdM (17-2), ranked No. 4 in the state by LaxPower.com. The senior recorded five goals on five shots and he assisted on another goal.
While Ortlieb has been out, three sophomores, Ben Palitz, Max Kline and Sherwin Gersten have stepped in and produced for CdM. Gersten finished with three goals against ninth-seeded Beckman (14-5) and Palitz added two goals and an assist, while Kline contributed four assists and a goal.
Palitz and Kline have rotated at attack since Ortlieb got hurt in a 12-11 overtime setback at St. Margaret’s on April 20. Since then, CdM has won four in a row, outscoring its opponents, 69-17.
“They’ve done a great job of just moving the ball around and finishing when they have the opportunities,” G.W. Mix said of Palitz and Kline.
The contributions by the youngsters have allowed CdM to be efficient on the offensive end. The Sea Kings like to dominate possession, and with Nino Chavez and Kaden Ebbinga winning faceoffs, they’re getting opportunities.
The game’s first faceoff went to CdM and it swung the ball around for 96 seconds, before Chris Von Der Ahe scored an unassisted goal. The senior, who’s bound for Indiana, was one of nine Sea Kings scoring at least one goal.
Jay Damon and Logan Miller finished with two goals apiece, and Brett Nelson and Brett Greenlee each found the back of the net once.
Five Sea Kings collected goals in the first quarter. On a sweltering day, CdM got off to a blistering start.
At one point, during a timeout in the first quarter, one of Beckman’s coaches told his players, “Yeah, it’s hot. But they want to be here.”
The Sea Kings’ defense smothered Beckman for the second time this season. They beat the Patriots, 13-6, on March 13.
In the Patriots’ return to CdM, it took them almost seven minutes before they got a shot on goal. Beckman didn’t beat CdM goalie Hoyt Crance until the 6:32 mark of the second quarter, when Alex Knox scored.
Crance wasn’t that busy in front of the goal, collecting nine saves. The guys in front of him, his brother, Hugh, and Brett Greenlee protected him. Hugh and Greenlee had three groundballs apiece, and Chase McElroy led the team with four groundballs.
The all-around effort turned in by the Sea Kings makes them tough to beat. They have only lost twice, by one goal to Danville San Ramon Valley and one goal to St. Margaret’s, which are ranked No. 9 and No. 11 in the state, respectively.
Next is JSerra (15-4), a team CdM hasn’t faced all season. The Lions defeated fifth-seeded Huntington Beach, 16-8, to qualify for the semifinals.
“We haven’t played JSerra [since 2009], so I think it would be fun to see [the Lions],” said Mix, who is counting on his scoring counterpart, Ortlieb, to be there on the field with him when it happens.