PaliHi Lacrosse Begins Season With Three Non-League Blowouts

Senior midfielder Blake Bryant leads PaliHi with 20 points through the first three games. Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer  
Senior midfielder Blake Bryant leads PaliHi with 20 points through the first three games. Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

Three non-league home games have resulted in three blowout wins for the Palisades High boys lacrosse team thus far. After an 18-0 rout of Manual Arts on February 22, the Dolphins kept rolling with a 14-0 victory over Downey last Friday and a 16-0 triumph over Westchester on Saturday.

Though these games represented more of a tuneup than anything, they obviously are a good indicator of things to come for the veteran-laden group, which hasn’t even been at full strength, missing several key players who were members of the soccer team.

“It’s nice to know we’ve got that great depth if we need it,” said head coach Scott Hylen. “We’re pretty senior-heavy, so it’s time to produce this year.”

Last year’s team went 16-3 in regular season play and reached the Southern Section finals, falling to Palos Verdes.

Among the leading seniors are defensemen Chris Groel (who has committed to Rutgers), Isaac Franco and Zachary Peters-Vernier, midfielder Blake Bryant and attacker Daniel Gervis.

“We’ve got some great shooters, especially Blake,” assistant head coach Tommy Johnson said. “And we play a zone defense that keeps the other team shooting outside, which makes things easier on our goalies. Chris is the anchor of our defense.”

In Friday’s win over Downey, Bryant led the way with six points (two goals and four assists), while senior Nick Jaffe had three goals and two assists. Against Westchester, Bryant had two goals and two assists, while Gervis scored three goals.

Gervis holds the early-season team lead with 11 goals, while Groel is tops on the team with 10 ground balls.

The one interesting battle on the team will be at the goaltender position, where Hylen has yet to commit to a starter, saying he will continue to consult with goalie coach Jason Kho.

Hylen lauded the play of both senior Josh Roback and junior Evan Greene, who have yet to allow a goal in 12 combined quarters.

“It’s a fantastic problem to have,” Hylen said. “We’ve got two excellent goalies, so it really comes down to who’s performing better, who has their head on right. It’s a tough position to play. You not only have to be on top of your game physically, but mentally you’ve got to be the toughest guy on the team.”

Hylen added that he was surprised his team handled Downey with such ease, given some of the quality players they have, but expected a much tougher game from Tuesday’s opponent, West Ranch. Palisades closes out its five-game homestand on Monday against Birmingham at 5 p.m. before hitting the road Wednesday at Malibu.