TUSTIN — As Corona del Mar High began to mount a comeback on Friday, an assistant coach told the boys' lacrosse team of what he believed was the inevitable.
"They're going to fall," said Jeremy Sieverts, referring to Beckman.
In the past, that has always been the case. The Sea Kings always beat the Patriots, and they always beat them up badly. The teams met a dozen times in the previous six seasons, CdM winning by an average of 11 goals per game.
Eleven goals are how much the Sea Kings needed to score in their latest matchup to knock off Beckman again. They never got there.
The Patriots weren't the ones who fell on Friday. The Sea Kings dropped their first game against Beckman and their first game of the season, suffering a 10-9 upset at Tustin High.
CdM (6-1), ranked No. 12 in the state by laxpower.com, looked on in disbelief. The Patriots (8-2) rushed the field after the Sea Kings' Hail Mary pass at the end failed to give a CdM player a chance to shoot and possibly tie the game.
"We almost pulled it off," CdM Coach G.W. Mix said with a laugh, but he wasn't in a happy mood.
The Sea Kings played without two stars, attacker Jordan Greenhall (knee) and defender Hugh Crance (ankle), who's bound for the University of Notre Dame. Despite the key injuries, the Sea Kings led, 3-1, after the first period, and then they unraveled in the next 12 minutes.
This was so unlike CdM, which has reached the U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section South Division finals in four of the past five seasons. Nevertheless, CdM allowed Beckman to score five goals in the second period on standout goalie Hoyt Crance.
Things got so out of control in the second period that a referee called Mix for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during a CdM timeout with 3:08 left in the first half. Mix argued that he didn't say a word, but to no avail. With the Sea Kings trailing 5-3, a CdM player served the penalty because a coach cannot.
Fifty-nine seconds later, CdM appeared to make it a one-goal game. But there was one problem, the player serving the penalty released a second too early. The goal didn't count, and then 42 seconds later, Alex Knox recorded his second first-half goal to put the Patriots up, 6-3.
The Patriots went into halftime with the three-goal lead, and it grew to four on Knox's third goal, coming two minutes into the second half. Goalie Matt Allen, who shut out CdM for almost 15 minutes, finally gave up a goal to Brett Greenlee with 8:42 left in the third period.
The score ignited CdM in the third period for a bit. Ben Palitz followed up with one of his four goals, and Sherwin Gersten looked to add another to cut the lead to 7-6 midway through the period. However, CdM was ruled offside, marking a second disallowed goal. Trevor Keene went on to score twice to help Beckman stay ahead by three goals going into the fourth.
Palitz turned it into a one-goal game twice, at the 7:17 mark and with 17 seconds left to play. The Sea Kings earned one more chance with 6.8 seconds to go. They knocked face-off specialist Frank Heng out of bounds. The Sea Kings used a timeout to come up with a play to even things up.
They had little time, little hope. Greenlee's pass never found a stick, allowing the Patriots to raise theirs for the first time against CdM.
"It's just a step in the right direction," Beckman Coach Brendan Finnerty said of finally defeating CdM, which used to play in the Pacific Coast League with the Patriots, before the Sea Kings decided last season to leave and play as an independent team. "That's their call [if they want to rejoin the league], not mine. It would be great to see them twice a year because they're such a great team. They're well coached. They know what they're doing.
"This is not the end of the season. We got a lot of work to do. We have goals in sight. We want to get to the playoffs. We want to make a run in the playoffs."