By Sue Pascoe
USC men’s lacrosse club beat UCLA, 17-7, in the Rivalry Cup Challenge at Palisades High School on April 13.
“It was a great win,” said USC club manager and Palisadian Charles Meister.“It’s always great anytime you can beat your rival.”
By winning, Southern Cal advanced to the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association’s Southwestern Conference Division I tournament and will face Arizona State on April 24 in Carlsbad.
How did PaliHi land such an important collegiate game that saw the stands nearly three-fourths full of Trojans and Bruins fans?
“It was supposed to be at the Coliseum,” Meister said, “but the football team didn’t want to play its spring game with lacrosse lines. We scrambled to find a spot and this was as close to a home game as possible.”
Nate Galper, who was a top scorer for PaliHi and is now one of the top scorers for USC, explained there was also added pressure to play well because, “This field has a lot of my lacrosse history on it, and I wanted to play to the best of my ability. It was a truly great experience, especially with many family friends and past coaches coming to show support.
“I loved nearly every moment of the game. It was obviously a little nostalgic, but honestly quite frightening because of the pressure riding on the game, mostly because it was against our cross-town rivals for a playoff spot,” the sophomore said.
Meister added “Last year, Nate scored the winning goal against UCLA in overtime.” In this game, Galper had three goals. Alex Peck, who attended Loyola High School and used to play with friends on the Pali field, had two goals and two assists.
Sophomore Clay Goldthwait, who leads USC this season with 31 goals, added five to his total, and senior Goleman Lee has four assists.
“Justin Collier won 22 out of 24 faceoffs,” Meister said. “When you control the face-offs, you control possessions.” Collier had two goals and an assist.
Also, Owen Han, Casey Kravitz, Arthur Gerard, Dillon Carlin and Dan Lammers each scored a goal.
Junior long-stick middie Peter Holland nabbed seven ground balls, two assists and tripped up the UCLA offense six times, causing seven turnovers. Goalie Trey Cranney, a freshman, made 10 saves.
Galper was asked the biggest difference between high school and college lacrosse. “How much effort you have to put in on your own,” he said. “In high school, your parents and coaches place their efforts toward making sure you are as involved with the team as you can be, but in college, the motivation has to come from within. It takes a lot more focus and desire to be a consistently good player.”
Meister noted that collegiate club lacrosse is run by the students. They do the budgeting, raise the money, hire the coach, get the uniforms and organize the transportation to road games. “It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of passion,” he said. This year the team is under head coach Peter Swander.
Galper was asked about choosing a college with a club program rather than an NCAA Division 1 lacrosse program.
“College has definitely had its ups as well as its downs, especially coming from a sheltered environment like the Palisades,” he said. “You start understanding that the world isn’t perfect and that things don’t always go your way or meet your expectations, and you have to start figuring out how to deal with those kinds of issues.
“I love the sport so much that I often wonder how great it would be if I were the player that kids were watching on some YouTube highlight video, playing in front of 40,000 fans on Championship Weekend [the NCAA lacrosse finals].
“But, in reality those guys work harder than I’ve ever had to and if I did decide to play somewhere more competitively, I probably wouldn’t be able to have the well- rounded college experience that many kids look for,” Galper said.
Since 2005, UCLA and USD have split the Rivalry Cup Challenge, with each team winning six games. UCLA won five straight, and USC has now won the last three.