The third-place game Saturday at the Tru-West Memorial Cup in San Jose was significant for several Southland teams.
Long Beach Wilson defeated Lake Forest El Toro, 10-8, for third, and the victory helped move the Bruins into the top spot in the Southern Section Division I rankings this week. Wilson likely will retain that position when seeding for the playoffs are released Monday. El Toro and North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake are ranked second and third, respectively, and likely will be seeded that way for the playoffs.
That scenario works out fine for El Toro, which would meet Harvard-Westlake in the semifinals. The Chargers not only defeated Harvard-Westlake, 10-5, Friday in the second round of the Tru-West tournament, but the varsity and lower-teams are a combined 15-1 against the Wolverines since Don Stoll began coaching at El Toro in 1979.
"Our only loss was right here three years ago in the quarterfinals [of the playoffs]," Stoll said at the El Toro pool Tuesday, where the Chargers had just defeated defending Division I champion Newport Beach Newport Harbor, 16-7, in a nonleague game.
Had the Chargers defeated Wilson in the third-place game, they would likely be the top-seeded team heading into the playoffs and would probably play a much more familiar semifinal opponent, such as Santa Ana Foothill or San Clemente. Stoll didn't say the Chargers threw the third-place game, but he did tinker with some new defenses against Wilson, should they meet again in the final.
El Toro goalkeeper Jeremy Randall said the Chargers didn't play their usual game.
"We didn't play like we would have if it were the [Southern Section] final," he said.
Randall said the team's main goal was to win its early round games on Friday. The Chargers not only had a difficult game against Harvard-Westlake, but they opened the tournament against Menlo Park Menlo, the second-seeded team from Northern California. El Toro won, 7-6, and Randall had 18 saves on his 17th birthday.
"That was intense," said Randall, a third-team All-Southern Section goalkeeper in Division I last season. "[Coach] was worried because I don't play well in the mornings."
El Toro's nonleague game Friday afternoon against Los Alamitos was originally scheduled for the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Center, but it has been moved to El Toro because of security reasons.
Playing no favorites: Harvard-Westlake Coach Rich Corso estimates there are five teams capable of winning the Division I title this season. In addition to Wilson, El Toro and Harvard-Westlake, he said Foothill and San Clemente also could do it.
"There is no clear favorite," said Corso, who has won two titles in 16 years at Harvard-Westlake. "Just a lot of parity."
The Wolverines have the brightest future, however. Their roster includes four freshmen and only two seniors. Corso said five eighth-graders at Harvard-Westlake will play on the varsity next season.
"This is the youngest team I've ever had at the high school level," said Corso, who coached the 1996 men's Olympic team.
Rankings game: Anaheim Servite's victory last week against Newport Beach Corona del Mar wasn't enough to bump the Sea Kings as the top-ranked team in Division II, meaning Servite can probably expect to be seeded second for the playoffs.
Other top-ranked teams are Manhattan Beach Mira Costa in Division III, Ventura in Division IV, Riverside Poly in Division V and La Verne Damien in Division VI.