On paper, the Davis High boys lacrosse team has every advantage going into Wednesday night’s North Coast Section playoff opener against Sacramento Valley Lacrosse Conference rival Granite Bay.
And though they come in as underdogs, the Blue Devil girls also face a familiar opponent as they travel to Monte Vista to open their postseason the same night.
Meanwhile, the seventh-seeded DHS boys will play in front of their always-supportive home crowd at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium, against a 10th-seeded Grizzlies team they have already beaten twice this season — 7-3 on the road in April and 10-7 at home earlier this month. And, perhaps most importantly, the Devils (16-3) have Michigan-bound senior Mikie Schlosser, who more often than not this season has been playing at an extremely high level.
But the locals know firsthand the dangers of getting overconfident, particularly in do-or-die situations. Last year, Davis won its first 20 games, only to see its run — and season — end abruptly in a 6-2 loss to Monte Vista in the quarterfinals of the section playoffs.
“We have to be sure not to overlook (Granite Bay),” Blue Devil head coach Nick Juri told The Enterprise on Monday. “It’s going to take everybody’s effort.”
Juri stressed the fact that both of the team’s wins over Granite Bay haven’t exactly been blowouts. However, he also praised the team’s commitment to making a deep run into the tournament:
“The guys are hungry this year. We’re stoked to go into the playoffs.”
In Wednesday’s opener (7 p.m.), Juri emphasized the importance of slowing down the Grizzlies in transition and forcing them to play half-field offense against DHS goalie Will McPherson, whom Juri nominated for All-American status.
If they can do that — and win the majority of draw controls — the Devils should be able to then give Schlosser, Kian Reno, Willie Hawkins and their other scorers more than enough offensive possessions to do some damage.
“We’re a pretty smart team,” Juri said. “We know where to be and how to capitalize.”
A final positive for the locals heading into the game is their overall health. Davis lost Daniel Rowen and Kevin Willefert to season-ending injuries earlier in the year, but hasn’t sustained any major blows since.
“Everyone else looks great,” Juri said.
Also beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday is a North Coast Section playoff opener between the 10th-seeded Blue Devil girls (11-7) and Monte Vista.
The Mustangs went 10-6 in the powerful East Bay Athletic League to earn the NCS’ No. 7 seed.
It’s fitting that these two teams meet in the playoffs, as their recent history includes several exciting matchups. MV beat DHS in triple overtime earlier this season and in regulation in last year’s sections quarterfinals. That 2012 playoff game was a rematch of the previous season’s quarterfinal matchup, where the Devils pulled off a triple-overtime victory.
Kylie Drexel, now a Davis senior who will play at USC next year, made the game-winning goal in that 2011 win, and will look to get her team back on top Wednesday.
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org