Traveling to San Diego for a game is always a crap shoot. A few weeks ago we traveled down to San Diego with a “light” squad and beat a strong Beachcomber squad in one of our best games of the year. Yesterday’s squad was even lighter as we took the field with thirteen guys without our stud FOGO and without several strong players at multiple positions. Eric and I considered what would be the first forfeit in the Buck’s 16 year existence. But the thirteen led by Alex Jessup, Dustin Doty and Brett Tietjen cried NO so let the game begin!
The Buck’s took the field with Ron Fernando in the goal and second half goalie Brad Brandenburg graciously offering to play out of position at midfield to give some of our middies a break. Both teams moved the ball around for in the fast paced turnover free first five minutes of the game but the Thieves finally struck at the 14:40 mark giving them a 1-0 lead. But at the 12:50 mark Alex Dixon at “X” found Brett Tietjen off the left pipe and Brett sent a worm burner to the back of the net. Three minutes later Sean Kane found Brett free again and the Hills squad took their first lead of the game. Thieves answered at the 5:10 mark to tie the score but Joe Woody would have none of it and fed Steve Brandenburg to put the Bucks back up 3-2. But the Thieves had a clean win on the ensuing faceoff and tied the score to end the quarter. Bucks keeper Ron Fernando collected five saves in the quarter while Sean Kane had a takeaway and the Bucks only has two turnovers enabling the game to stay close.
The Thieves led off quarter number two with an outside shot at the 17:06 mark to take the lead but once again the Bucks answered with a man up goal by Alex Dixon on a feed from Bret Tietjen tying the score at 4-4. 40 Thieves took a two goal lead at the 7:10 mark with an inside curl off the right pipe and an outside rocket but Alex Dixon brought the Bucks within one goal on his own crease curl off the left pipe. The Thieves answered with 4:20 remaining and took a 7-5 lead into halftime. The Thieves took six out of the seven faceoffs but Ron Fernando continued his outstanding play in the net garnering eight saves in the quarter. Once again the Bucks were careful with the ball with only two turnovers in the quarter. The Thieves were getting their shots from outside but the Buck netminder kept the Bucks in the game.
Both teams slowed down in the third quarter with the Thieves scoring at the 14:47 mark and again with 12:31 remaining. Mike Delabar found Joe Woody cutting to the crease at the 7:10 mark and Joe didn’t disappoint closing out the quarter with the Bucks trailing 9-6. Ron Fernando had six more saves in the quarter and the Bucks cut their turnovers down to one keeping them very much in the game.
But the physical toll on the Bucks was noticeable. After yielding the net to Ron Fernando so he could help out with middy relief Brad Brandenburg was physically done….not from his many runs at the midfield but from a couple questionable helmet to helmet hits that were missed by the officials. But the Hills squad played on. They made the trip to win a game and they were still playing hard. Once again the Thieves jumped out to two quick goals but at the 11:30 mark Mike Delabar drove from the midfield towards the goal and put one by the Thieves keeper to bring the deficit down to four. But the Thieves scored two quick ones to take a 13-7 lead. Delabar went solo for another score with 6:10 left but the Thieves answered walking away with a 14-8 victory keeping them undefeated while the Bucks were alone in third place for another week.
Every single guy played his heart out. Mark Bell took most of the faceoffs trying to turn them into ground ball contests. Curran Sullivan followed around his Thieves matchup like he was his next meal. Brett Tietjen ran the offence making sure to keep the pace at a winnable level and Alex Jessup and Dustin Doty were fearless on both ends of the field. And I can’t leave out a play that happened right in front of me by the box. Sean Kane was chasing an errant Buck pass that was headed to the sideline. He dove under the Thieves player that had a step on him and “raked” the ball forward to a Bucks player. He saved the possession and the Hills squad rewarded him with a score. That was just one example how everyone played and why I was so proud of this team yesterday.
The league shuts down next Sunday for Easter. The Bucks will host the San Diego Lacrosse Club the following week at Culver City High School at 3:330. It should be a great game as the Bucks will be looking for revenge after the San Diego squad took them down in the SCLAX 2021 Championship.