Prep Lacrosse: Cougars blast past Balers

Christopher's Chris Olais tries to out run San Benito during their game Tuesday at CHS.

GILROY—On the eve of signing his football scholarship with Minot State University, the Cougars’ senior Anthony Sammut had only one thing on his mind: lacrosse.
The senior midfielder used his speed and skill to score a team-high four goals in the Cougars 15-1 rout of San Benito in Tuesday’s home opener.
“It’s a great way to start, especially against a rival team,” Sammut said. “We came out a lot better than we expected to…Our team worked a lot better than past years and I think we’re going to have a lot of success this season.”
Christopher charged out the gate with three goals in the first six minutes. Chris McCain struck first for the Cougars with a goal at 8:40. Sammut scored his first goal of the night with a hard shot from 10 yards out just over a minute later and Estaban Favela widened the lead with a rocket, which San Benito keeper Kane De Alba had little chance of stopping.
Nik Hernandez got the Balers on the board with 3:20 left in the first quarter and cut Christopher’s lead to 3-1. Hernandez regained possession and nearly had another goal just moments later, but Cougar goalie Chris Hernandez denied the shot.
It’s the inaugural season of lacrosse for San Benito and coach Don Jones said he expects growing pains as his team learns the game. And despite the score, he was pleased with the Balers performance.
“I think (this game) was great for our guys,” San Benito coach Don Jones said. “Hey, we got a goal; the last couple games we got shut out…They played tough and we’ve got a lot to learn.”
Christopher came out just as hard in the second quarter and saw two quick goals from Zach Cefalu and Sammut—off another long shot—in the opening minute of the second.
San Benito’s defense held the Cougars for most of the second quarter and created opportunities for itself in the process. Kurt Johnson intercepted a Cougar pass at midfield and took off for the goal. He fired a shot at Chris Hernandez, but the Cougar netminder caught it in his stick for the save.
Cefalu scored his second of the game with 4:17 left in the half and Sammut widened the lead to 7-1 with a wrap around goal shortly after.
“It was our first lacrosse game on our new field and it’s a great way to start a new season,” Sammut said. I figured why not start it off right?”
The Balers were plagued by penalties. They were shorthanded for half of Christopher’s goals due to drawing eight flags throughout the game.
But San Benito did have its highlights.
De Alba was stellar in net and racked up 15 saves for the Balers. His job only got tougher as Christopher crowded the net, making it difficult to keep track of the ball.
“I think our goalie played outstanding,” Jones said. “When you have to stop 30 shots it’s pretty tough, but he played great. That’s one of our shining lights right there, our keeper.”
Sammut scored his final goal in the first minute of the third quarter off a blooper that rolled between De Alba’s legs. Lucas Miller, Michael Nascimento and Birch Charron all added goals to build an 11-1 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
And the Cougars didn’t stop there.
Austin Reichert, Dylan Taylor, Cole Rhodes and Charron all found the back of the net for Christopher in the final frame of the game.
“We’ve been practicing for six weeks and they were really chomping at the bit to get the first game and they capitalized on that,” Cougar coach Tim Pirozzoli said. “I’m really proud of how hard they worked to come together and make it happen,” he added.
Christopher will be back in action at 7 p.m. Friday at Salinas High.
While he was happy with their start, Jones said his team still has some things to work on before its next game.
“Catching and throwing: the fundamentals,” the Balers coach said.