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Home-Field Advantage: Lacrosse Playoff Time

Here we go again … 25 of 30 teams make it to the playoff tournament? What is this, Everyone-gets-a-trophy ball? It’s easy to narrow down the list. I could get rid of eight teams right off the bat. And how about forcing coaches to schedule better opponents in the future? This would force the coaches to play competitive games, not schedule bad games which bore audiences with a total mismatch and an easy win. The old cliche still has merit: It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game. The idea is to compete, not roll over every opponent thanks to a cherry-picked schedule … That said …

In CIF, the top five teams are really good … Which poses a question: Why have one D1 bracket with five teams that dominate the other 20 teams? It really ought to be split into two divisions, Division 1 and Division 2 … But watch, CIF will change it to Division 0 or (“open bracket”) and Division 1 just like football … In today’s world, they change 2nd place into 1st place and have 1st place dubbed “open division.” It’s nonsense. Coaches get to say they won D1, but in reality, it was the second division … Smoke and mirrors all over the place …

I saw St. Francis’s championship ring from last year for Division 2. Nowhere on that ring did it say Division 2. It just said, “CIF Champions.” Gives “Champions” a new meaning. And to give you some perspective on what Division 2 competition is — any team in Division 1 would destroy any team in Division 2. There would be no competitive game there. The D1 team would be running the clock in the first half …

A coach’s perspective … I was talking to a lacrosse coach, and he looked at me funny when I said CIF should put a lot of D1 teams into D2 … He thinks D2 (which is, in reality, D3) isn’t competitive lacrosse but doesn’t like the term “second.” I really do wonder if CIF is working on a Div. 0 league like they did with football … They don’t want to hurt the coaches’ feelings by telling them they are really a good second-tier team. Instead, just call them first … It sounds confusing because it is confusing, like a shell game at a carnival where you’re not supposed to guess where the pea went. Sadly, it works! Simply amazing how many parents don’t know which teams are that good because of this juvenile obfuscation …

I was talking to a Calabasas parent at the Westlake vs. Calabasas game, which Westlake won 16-1. This fella was telling me how good Calabasas was, clearly believing their record of 4-3 and Westlake’s record of 1-4. Westlake had won just a single game up to that point, but their losses were to really good teams. One of them was against St. Margaret’s, ranked 8th in the country. To confuse parents more, MaxPreps had predicted Westlake would lose to Calabasas by 6, which was nothing short of ree-diculous … Still, this man told me Calabasas was a good team, even as Westlake was beating them by 8-0 … I mentioned that it was sad that CIF pits Calabasas, who is a D3 team in the Marmonte League, against all D1 teams. To this date, Calabasas has never won a league match against Westlake, let alone scored in the first quarter, maybe even the first half … This year, Calabasas is 0-7 in the league. Their last game is against Agoura, and in the first meeting with Agoura, Calabasas got beaten, 20-1. I mentioned that it was a shame Calabasas has to play a lot better teams in league twice in a season. CIF should put them into a lower division to be competitive, not to mention physically safe …

A few weeks later, a similar thing happened at Oaks Christian, where Westlake was beating Oaks 12-3 in the fourth period. I heard a parent say, “Oaks is just off tonight.” Let’s think about that. Newbury Park beat Oaks Christian in overtime, and Westlake beat Newbury Park 12-3 just a few days earlier … Oaks “off that night” — sideline delusion at its best … CIF needs to make these leagues more competitive. Playing teams you blow out is no fun, just like getting blown out is no fun … Again, a lot of these coaches just want to win, not be competitive. That is sad. Most sports fans would rather watch a competitive game and have their team lose than sit through a blowout win for either side. As for the boys, they just want to compete against well-matched teams …

Congrats to Agoura High School, the Lacrosse Marmonte League Champions … It came down to beating Westlake for the second time this year. If Agoura lost to Westlake, they would have been co-league champs, and nobody wants that. Agoura smashed Westlake in their first meeting. Westlake was playing with a few players out, giving an easy win to Agoura, 11-1. To me, it seemed like Westlake did not show up for that game, which was disappointing. This next match ended 12-5, but the game was a lot closer than the score showed. Agoura won on the shooting of senior Jake East and a strong performance by senior goalie Aiden McArthur. He was a wall, stopping really good shots. He changed the outcome of the game alone, allowing almost nothing to hit the net. Congrats, Agoura High School!

The only critique I offer head coach Sean Linsey is, don’t disrespect the game by scheduling gimmes. You are better than that. Agoura is ranked 6th, so why schedule a 1-12 team — the worst team in the CIF Southern section, #94 out of 94? This is why Agoura’s strength of schedule is at 8.6 … That game should never have existed. Your JV team can beat them, Coach. Act more like the Orange County coaches and look for real competition. It will make the Marmonte league better and maybe, just maybe, pull the quality up so our teams can compete with the elite teams of high school lacrosse. It ain’t about winning or losing … it’s about good competition …

Back to the playoff picture … Teams that have no business in playoff games will get to play against each other, and the winner will get to play a top-tier team and get smacked … My pick to win it all is #2 St. Margaret’s. Best lacrosse team I have seen in a long time. They make the game look beautiful, but they will not see any real competition until the last two games of this tournament … Up to then, you will see them blow out teams by more than 10 points. Then they’ll face #3 Corona Del Mar, and friends, those are the two teams that should play in the championship game … But with the “every team makes it” shenanigans, who knows if they will see each other in the final game? Most likely, they will meet in the semi-final game and beat #1 Mater Dei … This playoff tournament gives teams with a lighter schedule a better chance to win it. So playoffs will come down to attrition, not just ability. What team has an easier run in the playoffs?

All-stars? Regarding first-team All League players in Marmonte, if Agoura played every team in Marmonte twice, and not one of those games was close, wouldn’t it make sense that Agoura’s whole starting lineup be named the first-team All League recipients? Westlake did the same thing to all teams in Marmonte with the exception of Agoura … Shouldn’t second-team All League recipients all be from Westlake? More coach shenanigans and handing everyone a trophy … Coaches will pick their favorite players. It’s been happening for years. Prove me wrong, coaches … Do the right thing and pick the first and second teams like you would want them on your all-star team, not because you like a particular kid. The players know, and now the parents know. You can’t have a first-team All League player who played on a team that won only half its games … Mind you, two of those games would have been against Calabasas, a D3 team that has not won a league game in years. On to the next …

1 COMMENT

  1. JUST IN May 1…
    EVERY D1 TEAM IN THE MARMONTE LEAGUE MADE THE PLAYOFFS!!
    8-0 Agoura (Ranked 6)
    6-2 Westlake (Ranked 16)
    3-5 Oaks Christian (Ranked 37)
    3-5 Newbury Park (Ranked 48)

    What is CIF doing?
    This happens in football too!!

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