After going undefeated against Santa Clarita Valley teams since its first season seven years ago, West Ranch boys lacrosse can officially call itself a Foothill League champion.
The Wildcats beat Hart 20-3 on Friday at Hart High School and afterward were presented with two banners commemorating the SCV’s first-ever Foothill League title, but the Cats didn’t need the title to have the confidence that they’re the dominant boys lacrosse program in the area.
“It adds a lot more value because you know, now everybody recognizes who we are and what we’re doing in the Foothill League like staying undefeated and stuff,” said West Ranch senior Joe Tempesta. “But I didn’t need that poster or anything to recognize how good we are as a team.”
West Ranch went 6-0 in the Foothill League’s inaugural boys lacrosse season and 15-2 overall. The Wildcats finished the regular season strong and got to work early, scoring 14 goals in the first half alone.
Tempesta, who also played football for West Ranch, scored two of the first four goals in the first quarter. Ethan Doty also scored two in the frame and Jeremy Demsher added another for a 5-0 advantage by the end of the opening quarter.
The Indians (12-6, 4-2) switched their defensive coverage in the second from zone to man, but West Ranch was able to quickly navigate the opponent. Tempesta scored two goals within the first three minutes of the second quarter, the second of which was unassisted.
Blake Hildebrand dished a pass to Doty, who then wristed in a shot to bring the score to 8-0 in West Ranch’s favor. Zach Van Bennekum scored a minute later at the 6:16 mark, then Robbie Myers passed to Tempesta, who passed back to Myers who ripped a shot from 10 yards out to make it 10-0.
“Ever since we started youth Wildcat Lacrosse when I was like 9 or 10 years old I’ve been playing with Robbie Myers,” Tempesta said. “It definitely helps out with that team chemistry, just knowing what the other person is going to do or maybe knowing your player. Like having played with Robbie for so long that I know when he might pass it to me or I know what he’s thinking and so we can kind of make decisions off that.”
Wildcats goalie JB Bendfeldt was solid between the pipes, coming up with a diving save with 4:40 to go until halftime.
“It was just more of a move of ‘I need to do this for my team, I need to make one last save right before the clock runs out so I can keep the shutout for my team,’” Bendfeldt said of the save.
West Ranch tacked on four more goals before halftime to make it 14-0.
Tempesta scored a man-up goal 30 seconds into the third quarter, then Demsher ripped a shot from the left side from 15 yards out for another. Justin Morreale and Demsher added two more goals before the conclusion of the third frame to put the Cats up 18-0.
“They’re competitive, this is a very competitive group,” said West Ranch coach Mike Borsos. “They compete hard with each other at practice all week long and it goes over to the field.”
Hart’s Will Knight prevented a shutout with a goal scored one minute into the fourth quarter. Ethan Dos Santos potted a goal with an assist from Caleb Reed for another with 9:43 left in the game.
The Indians scored once more for a trio of goals and the Wildcats netted two more to close out Foothill League play.
West Ranch moves on to the playoffs and will learn of their first-round playoff opponent on Saturday morning. The Wildcats are looking to add their first-ever playoff win to their first-ever Foothill League title.
“I’d love to accomplish that after being on this team for four years,” Tempesta said. “We’ve come a long way and I’d really love to see us take that next step and win a playoff game like we did in football last year. Do the same thing in lacrosse.”