Heartbreak on the Field: Cate Rams Fall Short to Canyon in CIF Playoff Thriller

April 30, 2024

A Story of Resilience: Cate Rams Battle Canyon to the Bitter End in CIF Playoff Contest

Cate lost a heartbreaker to visiting Canyon in the CIF Southern Section D2 Wildcard game this afternoon, 9-11. We saw Canyon in last year’s D3 quarterfinal and were eager to get another shot at them. We wish this one had gone the other way, mainly so that this amazing group of young men could keep working and playing together. This was a tough way to bid farewell to a senior class that gave us so much. We played our hearts out and are proud of the effort. In many ways, we resolved some of the issues around effort that haunted us this season and proved we could play up against a formidable opponent when our backs were against the wall. Canyon is a good team with lots of experience, and I don’t think they expected quite the fight they got from the Rams today.

Johnny Foster, ’25, scored Cate’s first goal of the day.

Canyon claimed the early momentum as we lost the first two faceoffs and couldn’t connect passes on the first two offensive attempts. Canyon’s strong shooting #21 struck first on an outside shot after we got pulled out of shape from another dodger. We looked much better on the next defensive set, deterring several dodges in succession before giving up an unlucky one on a bad slide. Cate didn’t blink and came back determined to execute the game plan. After a massive save from Burak on the doorstep, a strong clearing run from Cody Mast ’25, and an incredible drive from Johnny Foster ’25, we caught a lucky bounce as EMO (Elliot Murray Osborn ’24) scooped a ground ball (gb) on the doorstep and dunked for our first goal of the day. On the next play, Tyler Martinez ’24 won the face-off and attacked hard up the middle of the field, drawing a slide and making a great pass off to Tres Davidson ’26, who buried a beautiful lefty shot to tie the game at 2-2. Game on! We stepped up our physicality one more notch and managed to cause a few key defensive turnovers from there. Our offense also turned it on, stringing together two long possessions before converting one more goal as Johnny scooped a deflected pass from EMO and got his own dunk. We killed an unlucky penalty and managed to dey a few more good looks down the stretch. But Canyon tied things up just before the end of the quarter on a tough outside shot from their best shooter (#14).

“Cody scored a screamer”

The tension was palpable heading into the 2nd, and unfortunately, Canyon was able to capitalize twice on unsettled plays, one due to a miscommunication on a switch and one on a fast break after Canyon’s goalie made a huge doorstep save. We answered with one of our own. As a clearing, Kristian found Tres with his man out of position, and Tres neatly tucked one past the goalie, who was off his line. Canyon answered on the next face-off due to another miscommunication in the matchup. Cody scored a screamer a few seconds later to bring it back to 5-6. Canyon picked up one of their own on an outside shot from the alley, but then Cody picked up another after a tremendous defensive stop and a stellar clearing run through several defenders. Both teams looked dangerous in the final 5 minutes of the half, but neither was able to score.

We traded possessions to start the 3rd, but Canyon struck first off a skip pass from X. Cody got his third of the day a few minutes later with a fantastic drive against Canyon’s best defender. We got dinged with a few penalties in the middle of the period but were able to shut them down with great defense and a few big saves from Burak Yanar ’24. We caught a lucky break from there as a pass from EMO intended for Crosby Rosenthal ’24 got deflected and bounced into the cage. That brought the score to 8-8. Canyon found us out of shape when they tried a new offense, picking up the go-ahead goal with 2 min to go in the period.

Tres Davidson passes to Cody Mast

The 4th quarter was a battle in every sense of the word. We dropped to 8-10 early on a slow slide, but we fought back hard from there. We really locked in on defense and in the gb game, setting up several great offensive looks. The ball refused to bounce our way, and Canyon’s keeper made some huge saves to keep us off the board. A tough penalty at the 4-minute mark stalled our offense, but the defense held for 1:55 of the 2-minute man down before Canyon could get one past us on a slow rotation. Down three goals, down a man, and with just under 2 minutes to play, Cate was able to win possession and move the ball upfield to Johnny, who drew a man and made the one-more pass to EMO on the crease for another dunk. We won the ensuing faceoff and got one more good shot, but the keeper came up with a big save, and Canyon could run the clock down in the ensuing clear.

Crosby Rosenthal fights the ball through tough Canyon defender

“I won’t lie and pretend that this one doesn’t sting. We know we could have won this game and wish we could play back a few of those critical sequences. The bigger hurt, though, is that we won’t get to go back to work tomorrow as a unit and won’t get to keep this family together on a deeper playoff run,”  says Coach Troy Shapiro.

And if you were at the game, you likely saw the passion, energy, and determination with which this team played. We wanted to give our best and nearly lived up to that high standard. Seeing our small team double down in the tense moments of this one was beautiful. We couldn’t be prouder of how our young players stepped up to give our seniors a real shot at another playoff win.

We saw considerable effort all over the field:
On the attack, Johnny, Quincy Thorne ’26, and Tres stepped up to the challenge of Canyon’s aggressive defense with tremendous poise and determination. They leaned right into the pressure, pushing Canyon off balance at every turn and riding with authority.
Crosby and EMO gave us tremendous minutes on offense, pushing through exhaustion to play polished lacrosse deep into the 4th quarter.
Tyler did great work at the faceoff X, going 7 for 18 against two veteran opponents and making them work really hard to win the ones they did.
Oliver Charvel ’26 and his d-middie compatriots Julian Lee ’24, Pen Brooks ’24, Ari Seal ’24, and Marco Gomez ’25 did a tremendous job of executing our new defensive game plan and made significant adjustments through the game to cover Canyon’s every shifting strategy.
Riley Valente ’25, Grant Mitchell ’25, and Colby Roof ’25 played out of their heads. Riley won several crucial ground balls and was massive in the clearing game. Grant played a terrific game on the back side, organizing our defense and holding Canyon’s best lefty to just 1 goal on the day. Colby, meanwhile, took on Canyon’s best player (one of the best we’ve seen all year) at X and absolutely shut him down, not just holding him to 2 goals on the day but forcing several key run-overs and denying their primary offensive look.

“Kristian Scurtis ’24 was a monster all over the field.”

And it was our captains who set the tone:
There were stretches of the game where Cody put the team on his back. He was unstoppable in the clear and made great decisions about where and when to attack. His three-goal run in the middle of the game kept us in the thing. By the start of the 2nd half, everyone on Canyon’s defense keyed in on Cody, and even still, they couldn’t stop him from scoring.
Kristian Scurtis ’24 was a monster all over the field. He led the day with effort, making clearing run after clearing run and still getting back to play terrific body defense. He won over ten ground balls in the middle of the field and set the tone for the aggressive style we needed to stop Canyon’s initial run. For a guy who’s distinguished himself with four years of tremendous effort on Zion Tucker Field, this was one of his best yet.
Burak Yanar ’24 was our emotional leader and made huge, fearless plays that helped us believe in ourselves when it counted. He made four huge saves in the 1st quarter, giving our defense a chance to get oriented to the game, and came up with another 10 through the rest of the game 14 saves on 25 SOG is a tremendous stat line against a team with this many weapons. He leaves the program better than he found it, with some big shoes to fill.

“It’s been a privilege to work with this group all season. They had big goals and worked hard to reach them. We knew it would be a tough season as we lost a big senior class in the class of 2022. But this year’s crew stepped up. They built a family we’re all proud to be a part of. We’ll look forward to returning next year to see what these younger players can do and who we can become. A huge thank you to the folks who made it possible for us to play the game. We have one of the last grass fields in the area, and we’re so grateful to our grounds crew for tending the space so we can practice and play (especially considering how much rain we faced this spring). A big thanks to Wade, Matt, and Ben in the athletics department, who helped us stay equipped, transported, and scheduled. A big thanks to Wade and Andrew for routinely running the book and clock for us so the coaches could stay on the sidelines and focus on players. And a massive thanks to our amazing ATC team, who kept us together (sometimes barely) through the season. We wouldn’t have a season without their incredible work with our players. And finally, a big thanks to our fans. It means a lot to know that Cate is behind us in these tough games, and we look forward to representing you all again next year,” says Coach Shapiro.

Elliott Murray Osborn  : 3g, 1a
Tres Davidson: 2g
Tyler Martinez: 1a
Johnny Foster: 1g, 1a
Cody Mast: 3g
Kristian Scurtis: 1a, 10gb
Burak Yanar: 14 saves