Playing in front of his home crowd for the final time, senior star JJ Sillstrop scored four of La Costa Canyon’s five unanswered first quarter goals as the third-seeded Mavericks pummeled sixth-seed San Marcos, 17-5, in Friday night’s CIF Open Division Quarterfinal match-up.
The victory upped LCC’s overall record to 13-7 and moves them into Wednesday’s semi-final at No. 2 seed La Jolla. The winner of that contest will advance to the CIF Championship game, Saturday at Del Norte High School (7:30 PM). Two weeks ago in a regular season encounter, LCC fell, 11-6, to La Jolla. San Marcos saw its season end at 11-8.
Friday’s CIF opener played out about as well as Maverick Head Coach Kevin Cooper could have hoped. “It was a great team effort,” enthused Cooper afterward. “Our goalie was fantastic, the clears were amazing and we were really good six-on-six, both sides of the ball.
“We keep playing like this and we’re going to be just fine.”
After the first period blitz the game settled but La Costa Canyon pushed the margin to 10-3 by halftime and San Marcos never got any closer. The Mavs had defeated San Marcos, 8-3, early in the league season and that skirmish assured that they would not overlook the Knights. “That was a hard-fought game and we wanted to improve upon that game, that score and the effort,” Cooper said. “They have three really good players in the midfield and like we did the first time, we got our three poles on them and it worked very well.
“We were able to shut their top dodgers down and they weren’t able to generate very much offense.”
Sillstrop, if not the premier player in the section at least prominent in the conversation, collected six goals on the night and the Mavs’ captain was pleased with the performance he and his teammates were able to deliver.
“We came out fast, scored a bunch in transition and they didn’t have an answer so, yeah, we did exactly what we wanted to do,” said Sillstrop, who also looked ahead to next week. “If we can come out like we did tonight, get some easy turnovers and convert in transition, I like our chances against anybody.” Junior sharpshooter Jacob Tauss chipped in with three goals while the senior duo of Alex Fairman and Zach Collins netted two each. Sophomore goalie Mitch Likins turned away eight San Marcos shots.
About the only negative Cooper could identify from the triumph was the fact that he would never be coaching Sillstrop and his 13 senior partners on the LCC grounds again.
“I thought a lot about that tonight—this has been a great group,” said Cooper. “We think the world of JJ and the rest of our seniors.
“The regular season didn’t necessarily finish the way we wanted so we were determined to take the bull by the horns in this one. We set out to get the ball on our best players’ sticks early and let them do what they do.”
For Sillstrop, the night brought back a lot of memories. “It’s really crazy, I’ve been behind the net (on either end of the field) since I was in second or third grade,” he said. “To be here tonight, playing my last home game, its really emotional.
“I came out, buried some shots and thought I played pretty well my final time here.”