TUSTIN >> The Foothill boys lacrosse team displayed its dominant defense Tuesday in a 10-8 win over St. Margaret’s in the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinals at Tustin High.
Foothill (19-4) will play Corona del Mar for the Division 1 championship Friday night at Downey High. CdM defeated Mater Dei 9-5 in the other semifinal Tuesday.
The Knights reached the inaugural CIF championship game last season but lost to Loyola. Foothill last won a US Lacrosse county championship in 2017 when it beat Corona del Mar.
The Knights and Corona del Mar are the two most successful programs in Orange County history and it’s fitting that they will play each other to determine the first CIF champion to come out of the county.
Foothill has won the last five matchups against Corona del Mar and beat them 7-6 earlier this season.
“All these teams are great teams,” Foothill coach Jon Fox said. “These guys all played together as youth, and it will be special to see them have one last go in high school against each other.”
Knights goalie Drew Tyson had a career-high 21 saves Tuesday. Foothill defensemen Adam Oman, Zach Harden and Roman Marchetti made it very difficult for St. Margaret’s to get clean shots.
“Drew is the best goalie in Southern California and he showed that tonight,” Fox said. “Our short sticks were denying the ball to their midfielders. We didn’t want them to get going downhill to the goal, and we put it in the hands of our long poles and they did a great job.”
Gavin Ahern led the Foothill offense with four goals and had an assist. Jackson Hines scored twice for the Knights.
St. Margaret’s (19-2) trailed 9-2 in the third quarter. The Tartans scored four unanswered goals to climb their way back into the game. Three of those goals were with a man advantage when a Foothill player was given a two-minute unreleasable penalty for using an illegal stick.
Jack Culley and Owen Binder each scored one of their two goals during the run. Riley Chester and long stick midfielder William Peffer also scored during the run.
Casey Copeland scored for Foothill to end the St. Margaret’s scoring barrage.
Chester found Holy Cross signee Will Stahl for a goal with just over a minute remaining, but Foothill was able to control the ball after that to seal the win.
St. Margaret’s won 20 of 22 faceoffs, had more shots and ground balls than the Knights. Harden had a game-high three caused turnovers for the Foothill defense.
“I think this shows that Foothill is a top program and sometimes we don’t get the respect we deserve,” Fox said. “But these guys came out here against a really good team and showed it tonight.”