Palos Verdes boys lacrosse coach Jimmy Borell has seen how important having a stellar player in the face-off circle can be for a lacrosse team.
Having Cole Clinton battling for face-offs for the Palos Verdes boys lacrosse team has given PV the kind of edge it needed this season.
Case in point: PV's meeting with Oaks Christian March 29. Following a three-hour bus ride, Oaks Christian jumped out to an early 4-0 with just over 1 minute to play in the opening quarter.
That's when Borell saw Clinton take matters into his own hands. The junior won 17 of his 22 face-offs and helped PV go on an 8-0 run before handing Oaks Christian an 11-7 loss.
"We were a little tight getting off the bus, and we came out flat," said Borell, who is in his 9th year as coach at PV. "Cole got hot and got us back in the game, and it's nice when we have the kind of offense to put the ball in the back of the net sometimes."
Along with Clinton, PV boasts senior goalie Kyle McCann, juniors Jake Jellison and Luc Charbonnier and sophomores Brad Sharp and Michael Nagy.
"It's nice to have known entities," Borell said. "Brad was named All-American as a freshman, and everyone knows (Sharp and Nagy) now. They've both gotten bigger, stronger and faster, and they're doing a great job of leading us."
Currently ranked No. 1 in the US Lacrosse/MaxLaxLA Coaches Poll, PV (12-1, 3-0) has set the standard in the area for successful boys lacrosse programs.
The Sea Kings have won 12 Bay League titles in 14 years, and are continuously battling with rival Loyola for L.A. Section supremacy. In the last three years, Loyola has beaten PV to be the L.A. representative in the Southern Section championship.
"I think we're one of the only public schools able to compete year in, year out," Borell said. "We're not able to recruit, so we're all about player development and getting the best out of our kids. We pride ourselves on being a hard-working team, and I'm blessed to have supportive parents, great kids and a great coaching staff."
PV hosts Loyola Tuesday, April 16 at 3:30 p.m.
"Our guys will be looking forward to that game," Borell said. "We've got a good game plan, and both teams are very familiar with each other. Everyone will be looking forward to competing."
In his 11th year with the program, Borell has had to evolve as a coach in a multitude of ways.
"When I started, I was still playing, and it's been a transition from a player-coach to a full-time coach," Borell said. "It was easier back then, when I could lead by example. I've had to re-invent my coaching skills. I've read a lot of leadership books, and I've learned a lot more from the players than they've ever learned from me."
The last time PV won the L.A. Championship Tournament was 2015, and Borell feels like there's a chance PV can dethrone Loyola this season.
"I think we have a pretty dangerous team, and we have an outstanding face-off guy. Loyola was fortunate to have that guy the last three years, and we're pretty lucky to have Cole this year," Borell said. "He's coming off shoulder surgery, and he's just getting going. Hopefully we're able to use him all around."