Westlake junior varsity player, Jake Crawford, shoots on goal in a recent SCLA club lacrosse game.
Local high school club lacrosse teams from Thousand Oaks, Agoura, Newbury Park, Westlake, and Calabasas are concluding their regular season campaigns and preparing for league playoffs. Teams will compete in the preliminary rounds on Sunday. May 3, and Wednesday, May 6. The Championship game will be played on Friday, May 8 (time tbd). All tournament playoff games and the Championship game will be played at Newbury Park High School. Game times and seedings will be announced next week. The club teams compete in the Conejo Valley Division of the Southern California Lacrosse Association.
The top two high school teams in the SCLA Conejo Valley Division playoffs will receive an automatic berth in the Regional playoffs on May 16th and 17th. The State Championship tournament is scheduled on May 30th and 31st. Newbury Park High School will also be the host site for the Regional and State Championship tournaments. Currently, four teams in the Conejo Valley Division, Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, Agoura and Westlake, are ranked among the top ten club lacrosse teams in the state according to LaxPower.com.
The Conejo Valley Lacrosse league also includes a girls division (grades 7 – 12) with teams from Oak Park, Agoura and Thousand Oaks. The girls schedule includes non-league games with El Segundo and Glendale. The boys high school non-league schedule includes teams from Pasadena, Saugus, Valencia, El Segundo, Edison, Glendale and Long Beach.
The SCLA also offers a youth program with divisions for third/fourth grades, fifth/sixth grades and seventh/eigth grades. The Youth Division includes teams from Agours, Calabasas, Newbury Park, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and Westlake.
League lacrosse arrived in the Conejo Valley five years ago with the formation of the Conejo Valley Lacrosse League. In the first year of competition, league enrollment was about 40 players. This season, over 600 youth and high school student-athletes play lacrosse in the Conejo Valley Division of the SCLA.
Lacrosse is the fastest growing youth and high school sport in the country. And accordingly, college coaches consider Southern California to be a future recruiting hotbed for the sport. Some of the most talented high school lacrosse players in the county, including Thousand Oaks’ Josh Bounds and Clay Venetis, will be showcasing their talent at next week’s SCLA playoff tournament. Bounds, a senior at Thousand Oaks High School, will be playing lacrosse for West Point this fall. Venetis, also a Thousand Oaks senior, is undecided but the list for fall enrollment included the University of Denver and Boston University. This season’s Player Awards Ceremony will take place immediately following the May 8 Championship game and will recognize a High-School All-America selection, a High School All-American Academic selection, and the All-League team will be announced.
Conejo Valley club lacrosse players making their mark at the collegiate level include last year’s SCLA High School All American selection, Mike Cammorata. Cammorata played lacrosse at Agoura High School and now plays for the University of Arizona.
Area high school standout CIF lacrosse players include include Brett Zoella – Oak Park HS; UC Davis, Chad Costello – Oak Park HS; Yale University, Richard Gelb – Cate School; Colgate, Bobby Nordlund – Oaks Christian; US Naval Academy. Nordlund also received Academic All-American Honors. Oak Park High School, Cate School and Oaks Christian compete in lacrosse as CIF teams.
The sports’ growing popularity in the Conejo Valley has attracted some of the top young coaching talent from across the country. Area coaches include a trio of players from collegiate powerhouse, Syracuse University. Thousand Oaks coach, Jay Pfeifer played five years of lacrosse at Syracuse and won two NCAA championships. Westlake coaches; Sean Lindsay and Kieran Hughes also played on NCAA Championship teams at Syracuse. Lindsay is a two-time All American and a member of the US Mens National Team. He also played professional lacrosse for the LA Riptide. Westlake Coach Seth Cohen played his collegiate lacrosse at Gettysburg College. Agoura Coach Tyler Gilbert played at the University of Virginia. Oaks Christian coaches, Pat Smith and Brad Conners played their college lacrosse at perennial power, the US Naval Academy.
CIF Lacrosse Update
While the SCLA Conejo Valley teams currently compete at the club level, it is the stated goal of the league to transition all of the high school division teams to CIF for the 2010 spring season. The SCLA CIF sub-committee is working with school district officials and high school athletic directors to faciltate CIF status for the individual Marmonte League schools currently fielding high school club teams. On February 17, 2009, the Thousand Oaks High School Lacrosse Boosters presented a CIF proposal to the Conejo Valley Unified School Board. The Thousand Oaks CIF proposal prompted board members to direct District officials to compose a written policy by which emerging sports teams can transition from club to CIF status.