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January 17, 2021

Prep Lacrosse: Carmel pummels Cougars in season finale

GILROY—Thursday’s regular season finale didn’t go the way the Cougars had planned.
The Carmel Padres pummeled the Cougars 13-2 as the rain poured down at Christopher High. But even with the lopsided scored favoring the visitors, Christopher kept fighting.
The Cougars’ hero was junior goaltender Chris Hernandez. Hernandez made a stellar 20 saves in the game. Despite allowing 13 goals, the netminder kept him his composure to finish the game.
Christopher’s defense was sluggish to start and often times Hernandez found himself in a showdown with the Padres’ offense. He contorted his body to make several saves in the air and stretched out to make even more on the ground.
“It was just a bigger game, so I knew I had to step it up a little bit more,” Hernandez said. “I had to push out what I didn’t know I had in me.”
Though they trailed 9-0, the Cougars emerged as a revitalized team in the second half. Coach Tim Pirozzoli told his team at halftime not to worry about the score, instead it should focus on winning every possession—and the advice paid off.
Senior midfielder Jake Cupp got Christopher its first score with 6:20 remaining in the third quarter after he blasted a shot from 10 yards out.
Carmel answered right away, but the Cougars capitalized off Padre penalties and used a two-man advantage to strike again. Mike Nascimento cut the lead to 11-2 when scored with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter.
“I was really proud of how they kept their composure and stayed in the game the whole game,” Pirozzoli said. “The score didn’t really reflect it, but they played hard and they played tight.”
The loss was just the fifth for the Cougars this year, who have won by big margins several times this year. 
At halftime, Christopher honored its 20 departing seniors—many of who are four-year players—with medals, handshakes and hugs. Three Cougars, including Zack Cefalu, will continue to play lacrosse in college.
The players will leave a huge hole in the Cougars’ roster next year as only six varsity players are expected to return. But those players have had a huge impact on their younger counterparts, Pirozzoli said, and he expects big things from the junior varsity players.
“That’s going to be really hard to lose that much skill and that much seniority, but we have a lot of great kids coming from JV,” the Cougar coach said. “I think we have a good foundation moving forward, but it will definitely be a hit losing all those seniors.”
The regular season may be over, but the Cougars’ postseason run is just beginning. Christopher (10-5 overall) will kick off its playoff run at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Scotts Valley.

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