After a tough start to their league season, the Berkeley boys’ lacrosse players couldn’t be blamed if they got down on themselves. Instead, they took advantage of their first favorable matchup, beating Novato 13-7 on Thursday.
The ’Jackets (2-6 overall, 1-4 league) were led by midfielder Stefan Isaksen, who scored six goals and one assist in the game. Isaksen said his big game has been a long time coming.
“That’s exactly what I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Isaksen said. “I just haven’t been able to pull it off until today.”
Isaksen kicked the scoring off early, putting the ball into the Novato net less than a minute into the game. Novato answered right back with a goal, but Isaksen then found attacker Joe Rabinowitz in front of the goal, and Rabinowitz converted an easy chance for a 2-1 Berkeley lead.
Both teams dug in their heels on defense for the rest of the first quarter, and there were no more goals for either team. But Berkeley came out firing in the second, as attacker Nick Schooler asserted himself. He took a Rabinowitz pass and bulled his way to a goal to open the period. After a Novato goal, Schooler took matters into his own hands, pulling the ball out and then forcing his way back in for an unassisted score. Berkeley led 6-3 at the half.
With the outcome still in doubt, Isaksen’s teammates set him up for two more goals early in the second half. First Andres LaFlor stole a pass from the Novato goalie, triggering a fastbreak that ended with an Isaksen goal. Then, after a Novato slashing penalty gave Berkeley a power play, Berkeley patience paid off with another score as the ball swung all the way around the goal to a finish by Isaksen.
“Stefan has been the one guy who works as hard in practice as he does in games, and it translated in to goals today,” Berkeley coach John Rubin said. “He’s a great example of improving in practice.”
The ’Jackets let up a bit with an 8-3 lead, and Novato made them pay. First attacker Jesse Cohen carelessly committed an offside penalty, then Isaksen was whistled for a slash. Both penalties resulted in Novato goals, and the Berkeley lead was whittled down to three goals. But Isaksen made up for his transgression, using a nifty spin move to set himself up for a left-handed shot that dented the Novato net with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.
The final quarter started with a three-minute power play for the ’Jackets, as the officials determined one of the Novato sticks to be illegal. Berkeley couldn’t convert for two minutes, but Novato was nailed with an unnecessary roughness penalty, giving the ’Jackets a two-man advantage. Schooler missed a close shot, but the ball came back around to him and he converted his second chance, finishing his hat trick for the day.
Novato’s comeback attempt ended after two more goals, as Isaksen sealed the deal with his final goal for a double hat trick.