Live Oak sophomore Emma Jeffrey gains possession of the ball against Gilroy during an April 18 game. Photo: Jonathan Natividad

One of the best teams at Live Oak High School this year is the girls lacrosse squad. Coach Jordan Evanger’s Acorns are flying high with a 15-1 record, 12-0 in Blossom Valley Athletic League, Mt. Hamilton Division play. 

The regular season has just finished and now Live Oak moves on to the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs. The Acorns received a No. 7 seed and will open post-season play at Woodside on May 11.

“A lot of these girls are passionate about the sport,” Evanger said. “Every season, we teach them the beautiful game. They are having fun with it and they don’t feel pressure with it.”

The offense is led by sophomore Amelya Forbis, who has tallied a spectacular 59 goals this year and added 12 assists. Junior Megan Cahill Mallory has scored 32 and junior Rian Henderson has 28 goals. Both of them have eight assists.

Big contributors for the Acorns in the midfield and on the attack also include Emma Jeffrey, Leila Azar, Ava DiNoto, Sophie Saade and Phuongdi Vuu. The defensive fortress is led by star senior goalie Susan Kirchhoff and features Keily Orta, Isabella Jeffrey, Mia Golubock and others. 

Kirchhoff will play in college next year at NCAA Division II Colorado Mesa in Grand Junction, Colorado. She has 120 saves this year and 416 in her career.

“She’s amazing,” Evanger said. “Susan is the only athlete I’ve had all four seasons. She works hard, is passionate and is enthusiastic. She communicates well, is aggressive and attacks the ball. She gives it her all.”

In league play, the Acorns defeated Lincoln 14-4 and 14-3, Gilroy 18-2 and 15-4, Leland 11-2 and 8-6, Pioneer 7-6 and 11-5, Willow Glen 8-3 and 10-1 and city rival Sobrato 16-2 and 10-0.

“The way our coaches taught us is key,” Cahill Mallory said. “How to communicate and play together. That’s a big part of our success. And to have trust in each other and have passion.”

The 7-6 win over Pioneer was the closest call of the league games. In the rematch at home on April 25, Live Oak came out firing and triumphed decisively by the score of 11-5. The offense and midfield controlled the ball and kept play on the attack side for long periods.

Azar and Forbis both scored in the first two minutes. Pioneer, with star Abbie Mackintosh and her 58 goals (105 career in two years) fought back. Mackintosh had three scores to bring the visitors within 4-3.

Late in the second quarter, Live Oak found another level and dominated the final five minutes before halftime. The Acorns took control by scoring three straight to jump ahead 7-3. Cahill Mallory did a 180-degree spin-and-shoot for a score, Henderson got a tally in a goal front scrum and Forbis fired a rocket into the goal.

Late in the third quarter, Live Oak essentially put the game in the icebox. Two scores in the final 1:30, one from Forbis and one from Cahill Mallory, produced a 10-4 lead. The final was 11-5. 

Evanger anticipated a tighter score after the one-goal decision in the teams’ first meeting.

“Today didn’t go as expected, as we expected a closer match,” Evanger said. “We had a lot of energy. Our goalie was killing it. Our midfielders were on it with their draws. Our defense was communicating. They crashed on girls that cut in.”

The final tally showed four goals for Forbis, whose older brother Ryan Forbis is one of the top players for the Acorns’ boys lacrosse team.

In the first game with Pioneer, Henderson scored four times and Forbis tallied twice. The players were also pleasantly surprised by the large margin in this game, and were thrilled that the victory guaranteed them another league championship.

“Our team chemistry is better now than earlier in the year,” Isabella Jeffrey said. “We communicated a lot more today too. Susan (Kirchhoff) did amazing. She got her 400th save today. She is so key.”

The offense picked it up again. Through the end of March, Live Oak scored 10 or more four times in eight games. Since the calendar turned to April, the Acorns found the goal 10 or more times in seven of the subsequent eight games.

“Me and Amelya made the formation,” Henderson said. “Offensively, we were more relaxed. We made passes that were better. Our shots were more precise.”

Forbis is not the only Live Oak player with family ties to lacrosse. Jeffrey’s younger sister Emma is a sophomore on the team and her cousin Julia Jeffrey also plays on the squad.

This campaign marks the third straight stellar season at Live Oak. In 2021-22, the Acorns were BVAL league champions at 10-0 and 13-6 overall, qualifying for the CCS playoffs. In 2022-23, they were 12-0 to win league and 13-5 overall, again moving on to the CCS playoffs.

After running into powerhouse St. Francis in the playoffs the previous two seasons, the Acorns are looking for more success this year, particularly as the CCS has expanded the bracketing to cover two divisions.

“With the two divisions in the playoffs this year, we are hoping to get matchups that are more our level,” Evanger said. “Our goal is to make it past the first round this year.”

Live Oak junior captain Megan Cahill Mallory works her way past the defense in a 15-4 win over Gilroy April 18. Photo: Jonathan Natividad
Live Oak sophomore Leila Azar celebrates a goal in a win over Gilroy on April 18. Photo: Jonathan Natividad
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