Two days…..two games. Win Saturday play Sunday. Lose Saturday go home. Well this was going to be Eric and Gary’s “last hurrah” after seventeen years of running the team with plenty of success during those years….perennial North Division Champions……three Socal League Championships out of six tries and three appearances in the California State Cup Championship game vs. the Norcal Champions. But this was about today and having to beat a stacked West Express team after three regular season victories by two goals or less. It was going to be a battle.
The teams traded possessions for the first seven minutes but the Express took the lead at the 12:15 mark on an inside roll off the left pipe. But at the 8:20 mark Richmond’s Michael Reale executed a solo redodge to even the scores at one. Less than a minute later Nick Mohler took off on a fast break clear and found Alex Dixon open up top and Alex scored the first of his four goals giving the Hills Squad their first lead of the afternoon….a lead they would not relinquish. Drew Jenkins went solo at the 5:36 mark moving the lead to 3-1. Alex Dixon went backhand off the crease with 3:05 left and George Pertessis scored on a Brendan Monteleone feed as the quarter ended with the Bucks up 5-1. Buck Fogo Jared Jacobs went 4/7 at the faceoff “X”, keeper Cal Filson garnered 5 saves and a critical ground ball by Dustin Doty gave the Bucks an edge in possession time.
The second quarter scoring started with a man up Alex Dixon goat the 12:45 mark but West Express answered with two of their own as the second quarter ended with a shrinking Beverly Hills lead of 6-3. Jared once again controlled the faceoff “X” taking three out of four, Cal netted three saves and Michael Reale added some possession time by reaching over the midfield line and stealing a ground ball.
There were only two scores in the third quarter both by the Express with less than three minutes left in the quarter. The quarter ended with the Bucks holding on to a one goal 6-5 lead.
Quarter number four was going to decide who was going to play Sunday. Two and a half minutes in Jesse Cuccia collected a rebound off the Express keeper and stretched the Beverly Hills lead to two goals. Michael Reale then drove to the goal with a quick slice and dice pushing the lead to 8-5. Express answered with 9:20 left creeping closer down by just two goals but Jesse Cuccia fed Alex Dixon for the final Beverly Hills goal of the afternoon. West Express answered with under a minute left in the game but it was too little too late as Beverly Hill walked off with a 9-7 win and lived to play one more game on Sunday.
Sunday did not go well. As usual our opponent got on the board first 5:32 into the game but a solo shot from the midfield by Decker Curran at the 13:19 mark tied the score at one’s. San Diego scored the next two goals with a long pole off fast break clears and the visiting club took a 3-1 lead at the end of one. As usual Buck FOGO Jared Jacobs excelled at the “X” taking four out of five faceoffs. Brendan Monteleone and Decker Curran collected three critical ground balls between them to add to the Bucks possession time but six turnovers negated the plus time.
The Hills Squad scored 2:32 into the second quarter to cut the San Diego lead to one goal but San Diego followed with two goals of their own to move their lead back to two goals at 5-2. But George Pertessis and Alex Dixon both went solo to end the quarter with the Bucks trailing by only one goal. Jared Jacobs took all six faceoffs in the quarter and the Bucks limited their turnovers to just two.
San Diego took control of the game in the third quarter rattling off four unanswered goals by the 7:35 mark, three of which were fast break goals off clears while the Buck “D” was unsettled. With 4:46 left in the quarter Alex Dixon broke the drought on a beautiful inside feed from Decker Curran but the San Diego lead was still 9-5. With just 47 seconds left in the third San Diego scored again giving them a 10-5 lead after three.
San Diego opened the final quarter with two unanswered scored bringing their lead to 12-5. Alex Dixon, Drew Jenkins and Jared Jacobs off the faceoff scored the Buck’s last goals of the game cutting the lead to 12-8 but the visitors put one final goal in as the game ended with a tough loss for the Beverly Hills team going down 13-8.
After seventeen years of running the club it would be co-founders Eric Baker and Gary Greenbaum’ s last hurrah. After not winning a game in their first three seasons they broke through in their fourth year. They won the North Division Championship eight out of the eleven years when there was a North and South Division and garnered the Southern California Championship in 2011, 2015 and 2016. We have had many special teams over the years and this one was certainly one of them as the team was not just stacked with talent but also consisted of a group of unselfish players who lived the credo of being a team. Eric and I feel that we have left a team with new leadership that will continue to provide a place for talented players that have the passion to keep playing at a high level.