From Fans to Varsity Lacrosse: ‘Fix What’s Broken’By Doug Dupuy @ 6:00 AM April 30, 2009
For loyal fans and supportive family members, watching the final three games of the regular season for the Culver City High School varsity lacrosse team was downright painful.
One can only imagine what it felt like on the field for players and coaches.
Overall, the squad finished with a 7-win, 7- loss record, an improvement over last season, but the lackluster, poorly executed play in the homestretch left spectators wondering if the program has the wherewithal to elevate to the next level.
The downward spiral began on Tuesday of last week when a powerful Palos Verdes team arrived at Culver High.
The Centaurs scored first, and for a few minutes in the early going it looked as if the home team was up for the challenge. Then the effects of a two-week spring break kicked in.
Suddenly, the team could not execute the fundamentals. Passes went astray. Balls were dropped. Ground balls were not fielded, and the Sea Kings became marauders.
With superior speed and skill, Palos Verdes ran through the Culver defense. From the second period until the bitter end, they dominated in every aspect of the game. The result was a 10-3 Palos Verdes victory and a dejected Culver City squad.
Redemption or Less in Downey?
On Thursday night of last week, the team was looking for redemption.
A week earlier Culver High had lost to Downey in a closely contested game. Now they were on Downey’s home turf to prove a point.
Culver came on strong in the first quarter. Jason Mair scored first on a wraparound followed by two quick goals from Andy Campos. Alek Fabijanek finished the quarter with a scoring shot, and Culver led 4-1.
A very vocal Downey coach implored his players to get physical — and they responded.
The Centaurs subsequently fell apart. They were intimidated by Downey’s strong hits and swarming defense, and they could not make adjustments.
In fairness, a coach cannot make plays for his players. They must execute, and they did not.
But a coach can provide a strategy that gives his team a chance to win. On clearing the zone, Culver had one strategy: Dump the ball back to the goalie, who, in no particular hurry, tosses it back to a defenseman, who slowly jogs toward midfield waiting for a middie to break free. If that middie is covered, the defenseman must carry across midfield himself.
Speaking of Transparency
Downey figured it out, somehow covering the middies while double-teaming the defenseman, causing him to drop the ball and fling it in frustration, or turn it over by way of failure to advance.
In all of these scenarios, defenders were perpetually playing defense with little opportunity to rest.
They became fatigued; the Culver attack was stymied by lack of opportunity and a relatively unsophisticated offense that was easy to defend.
The real crime was that an incredible performance by goalie Phillip Beer went for naught when the Centaurs were held scoreless for the rest of the game.
Eventually, the persistent Downey attack found the net and claimed victory, 6-4.
That brings us to the season finale.
In a fitting end to the week, most of the starting seniors were benched during the first half for disciplinary reasons, or perhaps to give younger, less experienced players valuable playing time.
In any case, a talented Peninsula team took full advantage of the situation in front of their home crowd.
They gave the fledgling Centaurs an old- fashioned whooping.
The good news: Next year’s players garnered game experience. And hopefully, the graduating seniors learned a lesson in team loyalty and dedication.
The bad news: Culver City lost 17-0.
This Saturday, the Centaurs begin the playoffs at home with an opportunity to regroup and make adjustments to their offense and defense.
After a season of triumph and disappointment, it will be interesting to see what they have learned.
Mr. Dupuy may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org