For the first time in the history of Fallbrook High School’s boys lacrosse program, the Warriors won a playoff game.
The May 21 contest against Bonita Vista was also the first home playoff match in Fallbrook’s history. The Warriors prevailed by a 6-4 margin.
“It was a good game,” said Fallbrook coach Paul Morgan.
The Warriors scored the game’s first two goals and had a 4-3 halftime lead. “We never trailed the entire game, but they definitely pushed us,” Morgan said.
All six of Fallbrook’s goals were scored by juniors. Chris Painter placed four shots into the net and Cortland Mangio had two goals. Fallbrook goalkeeper Matt Sandoval, who is also a junior, made 18 saves against the Barons and also had three ground balls.
The game was attended by Fallbrook High School athletic director Patrick Walker, and the Fallbrook Warrior Lacrosse Club youth team players were also in the stands. “It was such an awesome experience,” Morgan said.
“It was huge, especially with how much adversity the team had to go through this year,” Morgan said of the playoff win. “The team went through a lot of adversity.”
The day before the season began two players, both of whom had been on the 2013 varsity, were lost due to academic ineligibility. Morgan, who himself graduated from Fullerton State University in May, had his own class commitments and couldn’t oversee his players’ academic situations. “That’s something that I’m going to make sure I focus on in the future,” he said.
The future also includes development of youth feeder programs, but the 2014 Warriors didn’t receive that benefit. “We didn’t have the most talent,” Morgan said. “We didn’t have a lot of players.”
A transfer to the Valley League is in the team’s near-term future. Fallbrook spent 2014 in the Avocado League, whose other members are all ranked in the top ten in San Diego County. The Warriors were 0-5 in league matches this year, although their overall regular-season record was 6-12.
Fallbrook’s May 9 league loss at Carlsbad was one of the team’s more positive achievements. Last year the Lancers defeated Fallbrook by 16-2 and 16-4 scores. The April 2 game between the Warriors and Lancers in Fallbrook was a 12-2 Carlsbad victory. The May 9 final score was 10-5 in the Lancers’ favor, and Fallbrook had a 3-1 lead at one time.
“We’ve been more competitive this season,” Morgan said. “I was able to get the kids to buy into the system.”
The 2014 Warriors included four seniors, but the rest of the players are expected to return next year. “We retain roughly 90 percent of our offense,” Morgan said.
Morgan is also expected to have Sandoval in goal for the 2015 season. “He basically kept us in every game,” Morgan said.
“I have a great junior class that I’ve been with since they were seventh-graders,” Morgan said. “I’m getting more kids who want to play college lacrosse.”
Morgan will also be adding current eighth-graders, including some he believes are ready to play at the varsity level as high school freshmen. “Our youth program is really starting to take off,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting.”
Fallbrook earned the eighth seed in the CIF Division II playoffs, which gave the Warriors the home game against ninth-seeded Bonita Vista. The win over the Barons gave Fallbrook a quarterfinal playoff match May 24 at top-seeded Valley Center, whose 17-2 victory ended the Warriors’ season. “We couldn’t really match up,” Morgan said.
Mangio scored one goal against the Jaguars. Daniel LeTexier, who was one of Fallbrook’s seniors, had the Warriors’ other goal.
“Next year I really feel is our year,” Morgan said. “I feel that we’re going to have a lot of success.”