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By Steve Breazeale
When he took over the San Clemente boys lacrosse team in the offseason, first-year head coach Brendan Finnerty brought a fast-paced style of play with him.
Finnerty preached the importance of quick passes and cuts to the Tritons, never wanting the ball to stay with someone for longer than three seconds in the hopes of igniting an efficient offense.
The Tritons could not have been more efficient on April 11 when they played host to South Coast League opponent Dana Hills.
San Clemente put together an effort for the record books, scoring a program-high in goals in a 28-0 shutout victory.
The Tritons scored 21 goals in the first half on 37 shots, and by the final whistle, 13 different players scored a goal. The team was led by Matt Keany (four goals, three assists), Jake Steele (six goals) and Nick Lemus (three goals, one assist).
The Triton offense has morphed into a juggernaut in league play. San Clemente (8-2, 5-0 league) has outscored league opponent 90-21 in five matches.
It’s been a solid start to say the least, but the Tritons have also been impressive in nonleague competition playing against some heavy hitters.
San Clemente beat Foothill for the first time since 2012 following a 9-8 victory on April 1. Keany had three goals and two assists in the win and goalie Harrison Webb recorded 17 saves.
“The Foothill game was pretty big. That’s when I really believed that the boys truly bought (the system),” Finnerty said. “They’re coming to play and they’re locked in. They’re playing for each other and not as individuals and that’s why it works.”
Last week the Tritons traveled to Nevada and defeated Palo Verde, the second-ranked team in the state, and lost to Coronado Red, the third-ranked team in Nevada, in overtime.
The team’s efforts over the last two weeks have earned them the No. 2 ranking in Orange County. Their chances at a high playoff seeding are likely if they can close out strong, which will be a difficult test considering their upcoming schedule.
San Clemente’s next three nonleague games will be against Palos Verdes (ranked fourth in CIF-SS), Loyola (second in CIF-SS) and Corona Del Mar (first in Orange County and third in CIF-SS).
The Tritons will host Palos Verdes on April 15 at 12 p.m. The Sea Kings (8-3) are riding high after beating Loyola 6-2 on April 11 and Foothill on March 23.