Wolverines cruise past Chaminade, advance to quarterfinals

There were no all-time school records set for team margin of victory or individual scoring by the varsity lacrosse team on Tuesday night, but the Wolverines were still able to achieve their primary goal in their third matchup against familiar league foe Chaminade.

Survive and advance.

Roman Holthouse ’15 put up three goals and two assists, Oliver Levitt ’15 had three goals of his own, and a 5-0 second quarter run carried the #4 seed Wolverines to a comfortable 12-4 home win over the #13 seed Eagles (9-10 overall, 2-6 in Mission League) in the first round of the US Lacrosse Southern Section Northern division playoffs.

After Phillip Thompson ’16 set a school record with 10 goals in the squad’s 26-6 victory over the Eagles on April 14, the team looked ready to threaten those marks when Holthouse scored on the team’s first possession only 55 seconds into the matchup.

However, complacency seemed to affect the Wolverines soon after, as a series of sluggish offensive errors allowed Chaminade to stay close. Even as Shane Houska ’17 and Nick Tatham ’18 — starting for absent Air Force Academy commit Niko Econn ’17 — made a series of strong defensive plays, the Harvard-Westlake offense was plagued by a series of turnovers, failing to repeat its epic nine-goal first quarter onslaught from the previous matchup. Troy Hattler ’17 held strong in goal, but the Wolverines still only led 1-0 after the first 12 minutes.

Eventually, the rust wore off for the Wolverines, as Levitt and Holthouse helped the squad break the game open in the second period. The Wolverines jumped on the Eagles on the quarter’s first possession, as Levitt penetrated to score a short goal to put the team up 2-0.

Chaminade maintained that margin for over four minutes, but Holthouse sparked a quick run with one of his finest plays of the season: a steal of a Peter Manfredonia ’16 pass, followed by a flashy behind-the-back goal from five yards out to rile up the crowd and take a 3-0 lead. The Wolverines scored three more times in the next four minutes, including a Zac Harleston ’17 goal to end the run, as Hattler continued to dominate the Eagles’ offense. When the run was done, the Wolverines had some room to breathe, taking a 6-0 lead into the break.

Early in the third, Harvard-Westlake stretched the lead to 7-0 on Thompson’s first goal, but the Eagles briefly made things interesting soon after. Manfredonia made a series of great third quarter saves, keeping the Wolverines’ lead to a reasonable limit, and the Eagles’ Cam Yerzyk ’15 got on the board late in the third to cut the score to 7-1. As Manfredonia continued to dominate, and Nick Galanti ’16 got his first goal early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were suddenly within five goals with 10 minutes remaining.

Fortunately for Harvard-Westlake, the 2014 co-Mission League Player of the Year was there again to put the game away.

Showing the versatility of his game, Holthouse went behind-the-back again with eight minutes remaining — but this time on a pass to Thompson, who found himself uncontested in front of the net to stretch the lead to 8-2. From there, the Wolverines finished their second 5-0 run, most notably including a 40-yard assist from defender Andrew Park ’15 to Holthouse, a long-range Joe Woody ’15 shot, and even Park’s first goal of the season, to end any doubt about the result. Chaminade got two more goals in garbage time, but the Wolverines still closed out an easy win to advance to the next round.

Harvard-Westlake moves to 11-7 on the season (still 5-3 in league, since playoff games don’t count for league play), and is one of three Mission League teams to advance to the Northern Division quarterfinals. The Wolverines will next be in action in the quarterfinals against #5 seed Westlake (15-1 overall, 7-1 in Marmonte League), coming off of a 14-6 first round win over Redondo Union. Harvard-Westlake most recently faced the Warriors in the 2013 divisional semifinals, when then-sophomore Holthouse scored a goal in overtime to help the Wolverines take an 11-10 win on the road. This year’s matchup will take place at Harvard-Westlake on Thursday, at 5:30 p.m.

An updated version of the Northern Division bracket can be seen here:

http://www.maxlaxla.com/2015-boys-lacrosse-playoff-bracket/

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