If there was ever any doubt about the status of attackman Roman Holthouse ’15 during the varsity lacrosse team’s 1-3 homestretch in late March, those issues are certainly resolved by now.
The 2014 co-Mission League Player of the Year is back.
Holthouse carried the Wolverines’ offense with his second seven-goal game in as many weeks, three more Harvard-Westlake players scored two goals apiece, and the Wolverines held off a late rally from Oak Park (8-7 overall, independent) to take a 16-12 win at home on Wednesday evening.
Holthouse got his first goal of the night merely 28 seconds into the matchup, and showed no signs of slowing down from there. The senior attackman finished the first quarter with a staggering five goals, including three in the first three minutes, turning what was supposed to be a competitive matchup between the seventh (Harvard-Westlake) and eighth (Oak Park) ranked teams in the MaxLaxLA coaches’ poll into an apparent blowout. With the help of a strong team defensive effort led by Niko Econn ’17 and Andrew Park ’15, the Wolverines jumped out to a 7-0 lead after 12 minutes, seemingly ready to threaten the school records set in last week’s 26-6 blowout over Chaminade.
However, the Eagles — finalists in the 2014 CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs — didn’t back down, as defensive adjustments on Holthouse combined with a strong offensive performance from Owen Consoletti ’15 kept them alive. Harvard-Westlake, still playing without Head Coach Alex Weber, began to be hit by penalties and errant passes, and the Eagles were able to take advantage. Even as Aaron Drooks ’15 and Thompson both got on the board, Consoletti scored two goals late in the second quarter to cut the lead to 10-3, giving the Eagles some life going into the break.
Holthouse and Joe Woody ’15 each scored to open the third, stretching the Wolverines’ lead to 12-4, but there was still enough time for Oak Park to make things interesting. Eagles faceoff specialist Josh Rosen ’15 finally began to have some success on Thompson, and Oak Park’s improved defense scheme led to more offensive opportunities. Consoletti scored two more goals in the third, and Bucknell commit Brendan Egan ’16 got one of his own, helping Oak Park cut the lead to 13-8 going into the final frame.
However, the Eagles simply ran out of real estate, as there wasn’t enough time for them to complete the epic comeback. Thompson and Andrew Corlin ’18 each scored their second goals on the night early in the fourth, putting Harvard-Westlake up 15-8, as Troy Hattler ’17 made a few key stops to maintain the Wolverines’ lead. Egan and Consoletti were able to make the score 15-11 at one point, but Thompson found Drooks for his second goal with under six minutes left to stop the Eagles’ run.
From there, the Wolverines were merely able to play keepaway, using the lack of a lacrosse shot clock to their advantage. Consoletti’s sixth and final goal with 17.8 seconds to go was harmless, as Harvard-Westlake closed out a 16-12 win to make a major statement in the eventual Northern Division playoff seedings.
Harvard-Westlake improves to 9-5 overall and remains 4-2 in Mission League play, with an even more important matchup coming up during the weekend. The Wolverines will next be in action against rival Crespi (8-5 overall, 5-2 in Mission League), who eliminated Harvard-Westlake from the 2014 playoffs with a 9-7 upset over the top-seeded Wolverines in May 2014. Dating back to the 2013-14 season, the last four matchups between these two teams have been decided by a combined five goals, with the most recent one being an 11-10 Crespi win over Harvard-Westlake in March 2015.
In addition to the obvious revenge factor, Saturday’s game also plays a major role in the eventual layout of the playoff bracket. Both teams are already assured of playoff spots, but the winner of Saturday’s game will clinch second place in the Mission League behind Loyola, which will also guarantee a home first-round matchup. Crespi is currently ranked fifth in the MaxLaxLA coaches’ poll, two slots ahead of Harvard-Westlake. The game will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, at Crespi Carmelite High School.