Casa veterans in control

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The tide has changed in the North Bay Lacrosse League.

Last year, a senior-loaded Petaluma High team dominated league play, defeating Casa Grande twice in the process. This season, it is Casa that has the battle-seasoned team, and it was the Gauchos who dominated play in the first clash this year between the two rivals, winning on their home field, 15-3.

The win was the 15th straight for the powerful Gauchos, who are 6-0 for the league season. The loss was the first after four wins for Petaluma in a league that includes Justin-Siena (3-2), Cardinal Newman (3-4), Rancho Cotate (2-4) and Sonoma Academy (0-1).

Last week’s affair, played on a mild spring evening, was never close. Less than two minutes into play, Casa’s Logan Rogers intercepted a Petaluma pass and quickly fed Todd Evans in front of the Trojan goal. He slammed home the game’s first goal.

Petaluma temporarily tied things on a goal by Ernie Gonzales, but less than two minutes later, Casa’s Todd Evans scored off an assist from Josh Garcia and Casa Grande led for good.

By the end of the first period, the Gauchos were on top 5-1. It was 9-2 at the half.

Any hopes of a Petaluma second-half comeback were dashed when Casa scored the first four goals of the third period.

Evans and Ian Mckissick each scored five goals for Casa Grande. Garcia and David Grant scored two each and Rogers and Logan Fabiani added one each.

Speedster Garrett Freitas, who was all over the field the entire game, scored twice for Petaluma against the strong Casa Grande defense anchored by long sticks Dylan Guth and Maverick Googins.

Gonzalez accounted for the other Petaluma goal.

Petaluma coach Kevin Louchis also had praise for Dominic Butts, who played a strong offensive game despite constant attention by Casa defenders, and Dante Ratto, the Trojans’ go-to defender.

Both goalies were exceptional. Petaluma’s Zach Sherer stood firm against almost constant pressure from the patient Casa Grande attackers who controlled the ball the majority of the game.

When the Trojans were able to penetrate the Casa defense, they were often foiled by Gaucho goalie Peter Marston.

Louchis was disappointed with the outcome, but not with his team.

“The score was not what we wanted, but I was happy with how our team played,” he said. “As a coach I really love this team. They have improved every game.”

Casa Grande coach Ben Hewitt complimented the Trojans for their effort, but did note, “It is always good to win this game.”

As the Gauchos head toward the conclusion of a great season, Hewitt said his players were feeling no pressure from their winning streak.

“We don’t even think about it,” he said. “The only thing we think about is our next game. We need to keep our foot on the gas pedal.

“This is a hard-working team. They have really put in the work all season.”

The rivals will do it all over again April 26 when they meet on Petaluma’s Steve Ellison field in the annual Battle for the Paddle.

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