The next time the junior varsity Gold Country Stampede lacrosse team steps onto a competitive field will be to determine the top JV Club Lacrosse Team of Northern California.
Chico beat Napa and Gold Country topped Elk Grove at last weekend’s semi-ﬁnal games moving Chico and the Stampede into the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association (NCJLA) Championships.
Stampede’s victorious playoff game against Elk Grove took place early Saturday morning at Nevada Union’s Hooper Stadium.
The Stampede kept the ball on their end of the field for most of the first period which resulted in five goals for the Stampede and a goose egg for Elk Grove in that period.
Toran Maronic worked the ball down the field and fed it to Mason Picard who scored two of those early game goals. Ben O’Lena made an assist to Maronic who also scored, Steffen Holland took a well-aimed shot that put another point on the board and O’Lena captured a face-off ground ball and swiftly wove his way through Elk Grove’s defense for a score.
Elk Grove came to the second period motivated and was able to make one successful shot which was met by an avalanche of Stampede points for a halftime score of 12-1.
Going into the second half with such a lead gave Stampede’s coaches the opportunity to focus on player rotation.
“It is great to be able to run the newer and less experienced players so every player on the team can contribute to our success.” Stampede head coach Donn Demostene said.
While the Stampede focused on player rotation, Elk Grove came to the second half focused on their Johns Hopkins’ play and were able to make five goals for a final score of 15-6 in favor of Gold Country.
The Stampede’s 15 goals were by no means effortless. Elk Grove had good man-on-man coverage and stuck so close to their designated Stampede player that they looked like shadows. Being so well covered barely thwarted Stampede’s attack on goal.
Picard scored two ‘behind the back’ shots, one upper and one lower. O’Lena made two goals just 9 seconds apart in game play time, Philip Holland found the net and Jimmy Vaughn, the ‘scoring defender,’ made one of his classic thunderous shots.
The Stampede’s defense are the bricks that helped pave the road to the championships for this team.
“The defenders and goalie determine who the strongest threats are and keep them locked off,” defenseman Jason Demostene’s said of the Stampede’s strategy. “Defense communicates continuously and they slide to position themselves to assist the defender playing the ball.”
Ryan Owen, a varsity player who has been assisting the JV team, added, “we play a collapse off ball man defense. We pressure the man with the ball and have the other players collapsed and ready to help.”
The way that translates to the opposing team is they can never anticipate which Stampede player will charge them and from what angle to obliterate their attempts on goal.
“The boys played a great game today,” Donn Demostene said. “They get better with every game and I cannot wait for our rematch against Chico in Napa. We were the only team to beat them this year so it’s going to be a great game.”
An enthusiastic Sam Carroll said this of his players, “We are showing everyone that we have what it takes to be champions. It is an exciting step for our community; our young men are taking down teams with greater resources and a larger pool of athletes. I am anxious to see how our club progresses. I know Avery (Blake) is watching us with a smile and a whole lot of pride.”
The championship game will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Justin Siena High School in Napa.
The NCJLA also released it’s 2014 All-Conference varsity team and Gold Country placed three players on it with Peter McDowell, Derek Adelman and Ryan Owen being named to the squad.