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Casa opens lacrosse season with big win

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The 2018 lacrosse campaign began with a fiery performance by the Casa Grande Gauchos as they hosted Justin-Siena on Friday night. In their quest to defend their three-time North Bay League crown, the Gauchos tallied 19 goals and 14 assists to send the Braves back to Napa following a 19-6 Casa win.

Gauchos defenders were never challenged individually by the Braves, with all six Justin-Siena goals coming on transition in an unsettled situation. Senior net minder and birthday boy Jacob Neal recorded six saves on the night.

Taking little time to settle into the game, freshman face-off specialist Zach Labanowski took his first of 10 straight face-off wins to creaseman David Grant, who plunked the ball top shelf to put Casa on the board 1-0 at the 10:54 mark.

Justin-Siena struck back with a defensemen clearing and netting a goal at 7:26 to tie it up.

Casa wasted no time showing who was boss, scoring 20 seconds later, with Grant again jamming a goal on the doorstep off a beautiful feed from captain Ian McKissick.

McKissick added another unassisted goal on the ensuing face-off to stretch the lead to 3-2.

The Casa Grande attack, now called “The 1-2-3” for its consecutive numbering of the attackers, pulled away, adding two of the three goals from each other consecutively. Todd Evans then fed “Frosh Lightning” Dominic Giomi for his first varsity goal in the official season. At the end of the first quarter, Casa was up 6-2.

The second quarter was all Casa, with the Gauchos pumping in seven goals, two from Josh Garcia and single tallies from Logan Rogers, Giomi, McKissick, Grant and Pearse Aldwell, who stung top nylon on a sweet time-and-room laser.

Casa senior Adam Lopez held Justin-Siena star attackman Jake Andrews-Pestana to only one goal, which came unassisted in the second quarter. Lopez gobbled up body contact and was always step-for-step with Pestana, who plays summer league with many Casa players. Lopez ended the night with six ground balls. Complementing Lopez was a fiesty Joey Buickerood, who hassled Justin-Siena attackmen to also gain five ground balls on the evening. Dylan Guth sliced up any oncoming Brave, and he recorded four ground balls and three solo clears. At the half, emcee Adam Buckley announced Casa on top 13-3.

Second-half play was sloppy defensively for the Gauchos, who committed seven penalties altogether, having only two in the first half.

Goalie Neal clamped down, only surrendering two goals in the third period. Pete Marston, the frosh goalie, was called to man the pipes in the fourth period. He had three saves and only let in a single goal on five shots.

There was no let-up offensively by the Gaucho arsenal, with four more goals added by McKissick, Garcia and Evans. Despite an impressive performance by Justin-Siena senior goalie and Navy prospect Antonius Wells.

The fourth quarter was capped off by what had game announcer Mike Lantier speechless — a behind-the-back goal on the storefront from senior attackman Chase Azevedo. Azevedo timed his cut to the crease front perfectly, and was rewarded by a Logan Rogers’ feed. Chase decided his only shot was behind the back under heavy pressure. The crowd went wild, and Azevedo earned the game ball honor.

The Hammer Award was bestowed upon face-off specialist Labanowski for his dominance at the dot, winning more than 85 percent of the possessions.

Casa is now 1-0 on the season. The Gauchos also have played two stellar scrimmages, topping Tam, 18-4, and just getting edged by Marin Catholic, the 2017 NCS state champs, 11-9.

Bob Feltzer is a free-lance lacrosse columnist who writes exclusively for Casa Grande boys lacrosse without compensation.