Torrey Pines boys lacrosse team wins fifth straight CIF title

TPHS boys lacrosse team celebrates their 9-7 victory over Cathedral Catholic in the boys CIF Open Division final.

Trailing by a goal at halftime, the Torrey Pines High School boys lacrosse team found itself in unfamiliar territory.

But as champions will do, the Falcons persevered Saturday, May 20, with a strong defensive performance and grinded out a 9-7 victory over Cathedral Catholic in the boys CIF Open Division final at Del Norte High School, resulting in the fifth straight CIF banner for Torrey Pines.

“We’re not used to being in a close game,” said Falcons coach Jono Zissi, in his 13th season at the helm for Torrey Pines. “It was a slopfest on offense, so we needed to play great defense, and we also have an exceptional goalie.”

Junior keeper Andrew Cook was a force in goal with 19 saves and was a major reason the Dons scored only two second-half goals.

“I was dialed in,” Cook said after helping Torrey Pines secure the 10th section crown in program history. “We’ve been doing all the extra little things, working hard late nights. The culture of this team is something special.”

The Falcons finished the season with a 17-4 record, following up an Avocado League championship by rolling past No. 7 seed Poway, 18-3, in the Open Division quarterfinals before overcoming a late deficit in the semifinals to eliminate No. 3 seed La Costa Canyon, 10-9.

Torrey Pines’ leading scorer on the season, senior midfielder Jacob Mendez, netted three consecutive goals in the second half, including the only two scores of the third quarter after No. 4 seed Cathedral Catholic took a 5-4 lead at halftime.

“I owe it all to Coach Z,” said Mendez, who finished with four goals. “I wasn’t the strongest player as a freshman, but we had a lot of late nights on the field, and this is the third CIF championship for the seniors.”

Cathedral Catholic, the No. 4 seed, finished 15-6 under sixth-year coach Dave McCarthy after winning the Western League championship. The Dons came into the match riding a seven-game win streak since a 15-8 loss to Torrey Pines a month ago.

“We were facing a juggernaut tonight,” McCarthy said. “They have a dominant program, and their goalie played outstanding.”

Two goals by Mendez gave Torrey Pines a 6-5 edge after the third period, and Mendez scored again just 26 seconds into the fourth period. Senior midfielder Benjamin Trask scored from 15 yards out for an 8-5 lead before the Dons ended a nearly 19-minute scoreless run on an Ethan Chesney goal with 6:54 left in the fourth period.

Junior mid Matthew Mannarino scored on a runner from the left side with 3:20 left for a 9-6 Falcons lead. Jacob Pages scored for Cathedral Catholic with 2:21 left, but the Dons could not sneak any more shots past Cook the rest of the way.

“This was a character win for us,” said Zissi, whose team finished the season by winning 14 of its last 15 games following an early-season three-game losing streak.

Cathedral Catholic jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals scored 15 seconds apart by sophomore Matthias Beals in the first 2:05 of the match. The Dons’ lead did not last long, however, as Torrey Pines responded with three goals within a two-minute span. Mendez and James Duncan scored to tie the score, and Mannarino tallied with 6:18 left in the opening period to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead which held firm through the end of the quarter.

Cathedral Catholic sophomore Cole Kaminsky tied the score at 3-3 a little more than three minutes into the second period. After sophomore midfielder John Pryor scored for a 4-3 Torrey Pines lead, Kaminsky scored again just nine seconds later to knot the score again at 4-4.

Senior Jack Cipriani gave the Dons a 5-4 halftime lead when he found the back of the net with 1:35 left in the second quarter.

The Dons, who lost to Bishop’s in the Open semifinals last year, had their season ended by Torrey Pines in the Open playoffs three times prior, including in the quarterfinals in 2019 and 2018 and in the semis in 2016.

Division II

Francis Parker 6, Point Loma 5: Top-seeded Francis Parker played a strong defensive game and limited No. 3 seed Point Loma to just two second-half goals as the Lancers (13-7) claimed their second straight Division II crown.

Five different players scored for Francis Parker, which reached the championship final after surviving a 7-6 semifinal win over No. 4 seed San Dieguito Academy. The Lancers overcame a three-goal performance by midfielder Brady Allen of the Pointers, who had a 15-game win streak ended by just their second loss of the season against 17 wins. Both losses came against Parker, including a 6-5 regular-season defeat on March 1.

Point Loma followed up its Eastern League championship with a 15-5 quarterfinal win over No. 6 seed Pacific Ridge and a 6-5 overtime triumph in the semis over No. 7 Rancho Bernardo, which stunned No. 2 seed Santana with a 5-4 quarterfinal win.

The Pointers scored early when attacker Ian Kinkade found the back of the net less than two minutes into the match. After a Parker goal by attacker Kobi Oldenburg tied the score less than a minute later, midfielder Eli Hale scored with 58 seconds left in the period to give the Pointers a 2-1 lead. Point Loma never led again as junior attackman Jameson Johnston scored a pair of goals just over two minutes apart to give Francis Parker a 3-2 lead.

The two teams exchanged goals in the final three minutes of the half as junior midfielder Jason Graves scored for Parker and Allen scored for Point Loma, giving the Lancers a 4-3 lead at the intermission. Graves and Allen traded goals less than a minute apart to keep it a one-goal margin, and freshman midfielder Nicholas Kim scored with 7:25 left in the third period for what amounted to be the winning goal.

The only scoring in the fourth period was Allen’s third goal with 8:21 left, but Lancers senior goalie Soren Oldenburg made key stops, including on a close-up shot by Jake Graulich with 1:25 remaining in the game. Parker played keep-away the rest of the way to run out the clock.

Division III

Army-Navy 14, West Hills 4: Senior attackman Finnian McGonigle scored five goals to lead No. 3 seed Army-Navy past No. 1 seed West Hills in the first-ever Division III championship game.

Midfielder Ryan Purcell and junior attacker Andre Fleuette each scored three goals for the Warriors (14-8), who followed up a Pacific League championship with 44 goals in three playoff matches, including a 15-2 win over No. 6 Sage Creek in the quarterfinals and a 15-7 victory over No. 2 Helix in the semifinals.

First-period goals by freshman midfielder Davinson Harris and McGonigle gave Army-Navy a 2-0 lead before West Hills (14-9) got on the board with a goal by midfielder Alex Grubbs with 3:14 left in the period. Harris scored again with 59 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead after one quarter.

With senior goalkeeper Quinn Vereker making clutch saves, Army-Navy held the Wolf Pack scoreless in the second period, while Purcell and McGonigle each scored twice for a 7-1 Warriors lead at halftime.

West Hills attacker Zack Hill scored led than a minute into the third period, but ANA attacker Jacob Pascal responded less that a minute later with a running shot and Fleuette scored twice off assists from Purcell and McGonigle as the Warriors assumed a 10-2 advantage.

Hill scored his second goal and Vince Keller added a goal for West Hills to close the gap to 10-4, but the Wolf Pack was outscored 4-0 in the fourth period by the Warriors, who are coached by Kevin Moss and finished the season with an 11-game win streak.