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BHS boys’ lacrosse suffers first loss of season

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday March 20, 2002

After winning their first four games by scores like 17-1 and 15-0, the Berkeley High boys’ lacrosse team may have felt invincible until Tuesday. But a tough game with University High (San Francisco) that ended in a last-minute loss may have brought the Yellowjackets back to earth. 

University’s Andrew Kirchner corralled a loose ball in front of the Berkeley goal and bounced a shot past ’Jacket goalie Marc Bloch to claim a 7-6 advantage with just 23 seconds left in the match. Bloch had just saved two point-blank shots by the Red Devils, but stopping three shots from such close range was too much to ask. 

Berkeley (4-1) looked out of sorts nearly the entire game, often struggling to get the right players on the field. Tuesday was the ’Jackets’ first game away from their home Astroturf, and the field at The Presidio in San Francisco had ankle-high grass, slowing down both the ball and the Berkeley players. 

“We were psychologically taken out of the game,” Berkeley head coach Jon Rubin said. “The grass took us out of our usual style of play. This was a learning experience for us, so hopefully it will be good for us.” 

Rubin said his team wasn’t used to making substitutions on the fly, and it clearly cost them on the final possessions of the game. The ’Jackets turned the ball over twice in the last two minutes on technicalities concerning positioning and substitution, not something one would expect from a team with 12 seniors. 

“We were completely out of whack on the defensive end,” Berkeley head coach Jon Rubin said. “We kept making mental errors, coming off when we shouldn’t have.” 

University’s comeback ruined some late heroics by Berkeley players. Down 4-3 late in the third quarter, Berkeley’s Sam Geller tied the score with a high shot that whistled by University goalie Nick Fram. A moment later, Cameran Sampson picked up a loose ball and bounced a shot into the net for a 5-4 lead. 

But the Red Devils (3-3) got two quick goals to start the fourth quarter from Colin Mistele, the first a sidewinder that threaded its way past two defenders and Bloch. Berkeley answered back with a nice goal from Erick Lindeman, who head-faked a defender and put a left-handed shot into the goal for a 6-6 tie. Both teams had opportunities down the stretch, but Berkeley’s turnovers made the difference. 

“Up to this point we’d given up just 10 shots on goal and four goals,” Rubin said. “We were able to just take the ball away from the other team. That didn’t happen today.” 

Neither team ever took more than a one-goal lead in the game, as University got two second-quarter goals from Thomas McKinley and Berkeley had solo goals by Julian Coffman and Lindeman. Strangely, the Berkeley players looked more fatigued than their opponents, despite have a roster nearly three times the size of the Red Devils. The second half was full of end-to-end action, both tiring and confusing the Berkeley regulars. 

Both goalies played well in the game, with Bloch standing out with several tough saves. 

“It could’ve been a different game with Marc didn’t make so many saves,” Rubin said. 

The ’Jackets are entering a tough stretch, with games against strong programs Menlo, St. Ignatius and Marin Catholic in the next two weeks. They then head into league play in the brand-new Shoreline Lacrosse League, which also includes Piedmont, College Prep and Bishop O’Dowd. Rubin said O’Dowd will likely be their main challenger for the league title, as the other two schools have just established their programs. This is the first season for lacrosse as a CIF-recognized sport, so the ’Jackets can look towards regional playoffs if they win their league.