The East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) spring sports season is the busiest time of the year. With so many sports taking place, when the teams get to post-season competition, often a great story gets overlooked.
Such was the case with the California High boy’s lacrosse team and their NCS streak this season.
In fact, the Grizzlies seemingly went under the radar throughout the season. After posting an 8-1 mark in EBAL play, with their only loss coming to top-seeded De La Salle, Cal got no better than the No. 6 seed in the NCS D-I playoffs.
From there, the team went to work.
In the first round Cal blasted No. 11 Casa Grande 23-1 and it sent them into a quarterfinal match with No. 3 seed Granite Bay.
The Grizzlies battled throughout and advanced with a thrilling 10-9 win over Granite Bay, earning a spot in the semifinals.
On May 10, Cal and a strong contingent of supporters, made the trip to Larkspur – not an easy drive on a weekday – to battle No. 2 Redwood, a team they had lost to earlier in the season.
Another thriller was in store.
Down late 6-5, Keith Hirtle scored the tying goal, sending the game into sudden-death overtime where the first team that scores, wins.
In the extra period, senior Braydon Horrock found the back of the net for Cal and the Grizzlies had pulled off the improbable win.
“This is the farthest the boys’ lacrosse team has ever gone, and making it to the finals seems surreal,” said Cal coach Andrew Ertola, who is in his seventh year at Cal. “This particular group of boys have built an amazing chemistry, and despite several player injuries, they keep finding a way to win.”
“Last night’s win was about redemption,” said Macray Madruga, a senior middy for Cal. “We dug deep and proved we deserved the win this time.”
Senior captain Matt Hanson gave credit to the Cal fan base.
“California travels well and our team appreciated it,” said Hanson. “Hearing the Cal fans cheer for us pumped us up, especially when we needed it most- that was a tangible difference given we didn’t have home field advantage.”
The Grizzlies faced a loaded De La Salle team in the finals 14-3, but the real story was the journey for Cal.
The biggest story that came out of the meet at Freedom High may have come from an athlete that didn’t compete.
Cate Peters of Monte Vista, an athlete who won four individual events the previous week in the EBAL meet and was a CIF State Championship medal threat in two events, scratched out of all her events.
Peters did not feel well heading into Saturday and it prompted her to scratch out. Though it brought Peters junior season to an end, she is looking forward to the summer season where she will compete in the Brooks Invitational and the Junior Nationals.
As a point of reference, the winner of the 800 – Peters' best event – was Kylee Denver of Freedom at 2:17.35, a mark over 10 seconds slower than Peters’ best time this year.
The Playbook staff sends out get better wishes and will be sure to keep track of Peters races this summer.
Following are the EBAL winners from the Tri-Valley Area meet.
Girls-1,600: Sally Binder (Monte Vista) 5:07.55; 100: Shayne Harris (Dougherty Valley) 12.20; 4x400 relay: Foothill (Galvez, Van Horn, Nelson, Lim) 4:03.00; High jump: Mara Lampsas (California) 5-4; Pole Vault: Jathiya Muhammad (Dublin) 13-0; Triple Jump: Aiza Sarwar (Dublin) 36-06.75.
Boys-110HH: Anthony Truck (De La Salle) 14.37; 400: Alexander Franco (Dublin) 50.21; 800: Shane Badcock (Dublin) 1:57.4; 300IH: Anish Kasam (Dublin) 40.07; 3,200: Andrew Richards (Dougherty Valley) 9:25.03; 4x400 relay: Dublin (Burns, Franco, Kasam, Yara) 3:26.11; High jump: Dwayne Noel (Livermore) 6-6; Pole Vault: Khaliq Muhammed (Dublin) 15-0.
Foothill closed out the 2022 tennis season in the NCS semifinals with a 4-3 loss to Redwood in a very close match which was decided in the final set. The team made it to the semifinals with victories over El Cerrito 7-0, and Monte Vista 6-1.
Nonetheless, the Falcons had a very successful season winning 22 team matches, including taking the EBAL Championship with a conference record of 17-1.
Revenge can be a powerful tool and Amador Valley used it like a hammer in the NCS Semifinals against Granada.
The No. 2 seeded Dons avenged their only two losses in EBAL play with a straight set victory over the No. 3 Matadors (25-21, 25-14 and 25-20).
In a balanced effort, Amador was led by Nate Clinton (13 kills, 12 digs), Tyler Homes (10 kills), and Bryce Nohava (12 kills, 19 assists, 2 blocks).
Other great play came from Ryan Yu (3 blocks) and back row play Max Riter (12 digs).
The win sent the Dons to the NCS Championship match where they fell in four sets to top-seeded College Park.
They Dons were led by Luke Melvin (12 kills, 13 digs), Clinton (23 kills, 2 aces), Riter (25 digs, 9 service points) and the setting duo of Nohava and junior Colin Bowers (24 assists each).
With their NCS D-I runner-up finish, Amador qualified for the CIF NorCal State tournament as the No. 3 seed in D-II. The Dons will host Vista del Lago (Folsom) on Tuesday, May 17.
Foothill High won its first EBAL title since 1988 with a 4-1 win over De La Salle.
The win, which gave Foothill the top seed in the NCS D-I playoffs, also broke a 13-game losing streak to De La Salle.
The big blow of the game came in the fifth inning for the Falcons as they scored four times with only one hit.
Tyler Gebb spun a great one on the hill, holding DLS to only two outs and inducing several ground balls.
It took Livermore to the final game of the regular season to knock Granada from the EBAL unbeaten ranks, then Cowboys turned around and did it again, topping the Matadors 2-0 in the EBAL playoffs.
The star of the day was Livermore’s Taylor Rodriguez. At the plate Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a home run. In the circle she allowed only four hits and struck out nine.
For the season. Rodriguez is 22-2 with a 1.02 earned run average. In 165 innings pitched, Rodriguez has struck out 286.