On March 24, Roman Holthouse ’15 watched from the sidelines as fellow 2014 co-Mission League Player of the Year Alex Dixon ’15 of Crespi torched the varsity lacrosse team for six goals in an 11-10 win over the Wolverines.
Back in action at Crespi on Saturday night, Holthouse made sure that Harvard-Westlake’s vengeance would be sweet.
Dixon had an impressive individual performance with eight goals on the night, but Holthouse outdid him with nine, Phil Thompson ’16 added four, and the Wolverines cruised to a surprisingly comfortable 23-13 win over the Celts (8-6 overall, 5-3 in Mission League play) to clinch second place in the Mission League and get revenge for Crespi’s 2014 playoff win over the Wolverines.
“In my four years, we’ve just been really competitive every year with Crespi, and we’ve had a lot more success at home than we’ve had here,” Holthouse said. “It feels really, really good to dominate them on their own field, so I’m pretty hyped right now.”
“It feels awesome, it’s almost unbelievable,” added midfielder Joe Woody ’15, who scored twice in the win. “I’m so happy to be here and beat these guys.”
After opening Wednesday’s 16-12 win over Oak Park with an 8-0 edge in the first quarter, the Wolverines (ranked seventh in the MaxLaxLA coaches’ poll entering the game) similarly set the tone with a bang in Saturday’s matchup. The game was briefly competitive, as the Wolverines only led 2-1 halfway through the first quarter, but a quick 5-0 run catalyzed by Woody’s first goal completely turned the game in Harvard-Westlake’s favor. As Thompson’s face-off work helped the Wolverines dominate time of possession, and he and Woody each scored twice in the game’s first 12 minutes, Harvard-Westlake took a staggering 7-1 lead over the Celts (ranked fifth in the coaches’ poll) after one period.
“Team offense is something we’ve gotten better at all season, but especially in this game tonight,” Woody said. “To put up 23 on any team is special.”
The Wolverines couldn’t quite keep up the frenetic scoring place in the second period, but still did enough on both sides of the ball to keep any Crespi comeback attempts at bay. The Celts took advantage of a couple of man-up opportunities to try to close the gap, but a strong defensive effort led by Andrew Park ’15, Niko Econn ’17 and Zac Harleston ’17 ensured that the damage wasn’t too severe. Crespi got within 9-4 before the Wolverines closed the half with a dominant stretch, culminating in a deep Andrew Corlin ’15 goal with only one second left on the clock, to take a 12-4 lead into the break.
“We’re just gelling together as a team,” Park said. “We’ve always been good, but we’re starting to piece the puzzle together, and that’s what you get.”
“We worked a lot on talking with the defense,” Woody added. “That was better tonight, but we can still improve more.”
Dixon did all he could to keep the Celts alive in the second half, but the Wolverines’ team play was always able to counter his individual prowess. Even though Dixon had six of his eight goals after the halftime break, the Celts’ deficit never got fewer than seven goals, as Harvard-Westlake’s ball movement was too crisp for Crespi’s defense to handle. In total, six Wolverines scored multiple goals on the night (with Tommy Park ’18 and Oliver Levitt ’15 joining the aforementioned Corlin, Woody, Thompson and Holthouse), and the squad took a commanding 17-9 lead going into the final frame.
“We’ve been playing much better team offense recently, we’re getting the ball around and our defense is locked in too,” Holthouse said. “Still, the key was really keeping the foot on the gas pedal today, going after it the entire time and not letting up at all.”
After the Wolverines allowed Oak Park to claw back to within four goals in Wednesday’s matchup, Holthouse backed up these words with his play in the fourth quarter on Saturday, refusing to give Crespi any life. The senior completely dominated everyone Crespi tried to put on him, scoring four times in the final period alone to put the game away. Even though Holthouse was unable to catch Thompson’s school record of 10 goals (achieved on April 14th vs. Chaminade), he still was able to put an emphatic ending on a decisive rivalry win, and get Harvard-Westlake their long-awaited revenge.
“I honestly was not expecting a win like that, so it shows how good we can be when we’re playing good team ball,” Holthouse said. “Today, we still we had a lot to work on, so we have a lot of potential, but that was a good win for us.”
“It feels awesome; I’ve always known that we were a much better team, and we just never played to our potential,” the elder Park added. “Today we were at around 80% of our potential, and that’s what you saw. We still haven’t played our best game, and we’ve got more in store. We’re picking up steam and we’re going to get after it.”
Harvard-Westlake moves to 10-5 overall and 5-2 in Mission League play, ensuring themselves of the Mission League’s second place spot and a home game in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.
The Wolverines’ next test will be their strongest of the year, as the team will host Corona Del Mar (14-0 overall, independent) on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. on Senior Night. The Sea Kings are currently ranked as the best team west of the Mississippi River according to LaxPower’s computer rankings, and defeated St. Margarets (who topped Harvard-Westlake 17-6) by a score of 7-5 in their most recent game. Corona del Mar, the highest ranked team in the Southern Section by LaxPower, has never played against Harvard-Westlake (ranked 11th in the Southern Section).
As for the Wolverines’ future L.A. County foes, when Woody was asked what Saturday’s win should signal to them, his sentiment was clear and concise: