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’Jackets survive sloppy start to down Marin Catholic

By Jared Green, Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday May 15, 2002

Playoff win sets up rematch with University 


The Berkeley High boys’ lacrosse team advanced to the semifinals of the Northern California Postseason Tournament with a 12-3 thrashing of Marin Catholic on Tuesday in Berkeley. 

The Yellowjackets had been getting balanced scoring during the regular season, but got most of their goals from five players against the Wildcats. Nick Schooler led the way for Berkeley with two goals and two assists, while Cameran Sampson had two goals and one assist. Julian Coffman, Dan Vilar and Sam Geller each scored two goals for Berkeley as well. 

The third-seeded Yellowjackets overcame a sloppy start to beat the Wildcats, who they defeated 6-1 in the regular season. The first six minutes of the game were filled with Berkeley turnovers and poor coverage, uncharacteristic errors for the ’Jackets. 

“We definitely had some pregame jitters,” Schooler said. “We don’t have anyone with playoff experience (Berkeley hasn’t made the playoffs in four years), and that showed early in the game.” 

Luckily for the ’Jackets, Marin Catholic couldn’t take advantage of the early miscues and Berkeley struck first. Julian Coffman got the first goal for the ’Jackets, taking a feed from Jesse Cohen at the top of the box and whipping a shot into the net. Schooler keyed the next goal, picking up a loose ball in traffic near midfield and finding Noah Flessell in the clear for a breakaway. Schooler then scored off of a rebound just before the end of the first quarter, and Berkeley was in control with a 3-0 lead. 

The Wildcats struck back just after the break, as defenseman Lachlan McLean took the ball the length of the field before dumping it off to Jake Bourne, who spun past a Berkeley defender and put a shot through goalie Marc Bloch’s legs. 

The game was scoreless for the next seven minutes, but Berkeley would score the next four goals to open a big margin. Sampson rushed the Marin Catholic net unchecked after entering on the fly, with Cohen finding him for an easy score. Vilar and Schooler both scored in the final two minutes before halftime for a 6-1 lead, and Coffman scored again after halftime before Marin Catholic could get another goal. 

When the Wildcats did score, however, it was on a spectacular solo effort from Kelly Stephen, who bulled his way through a triple team to get to the net. Stephen would score another great goal late in the game, but the ’Jackets were up 10-2 by that point and had the game locked up. 

The win sets up a likely rematch with University (San Francisco) on Thursday in San Francisco. The Red Devils edged Berkeley, 7-6, on a last-minute goal on a sloping, bumpy field with high grass in March, a far cry from the even, hard Astroturf of the ’Jackets’ home field. The second-seeded Devils will again have home-field advantage on Thursday, although most likely on a more playable field, along with the postseason experience that comes with being one of the regions top programs. 

“If we go in there like we’ve got our heads cut off like we did today, it’s going to be a very long day,” Berkeley head coach Jon Rubin said. “We can’t play University like that. Every kid they have has playoff experience.” 

The ’Jackets have sometimes played tentatively on the road, especially against good teams. Rubin thinks if his team can overcome that tendency and plays to its potential, Berkeley could come out with a win. 

“If we play a great game, I’m confident we’ll be the better team,” he said. “They’re more experienced and poised, but if we play as well as we can, we should win.”