By Ben Skalina
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/29/08
In the last year that the Inter-Ac League schools will be able to compete for the boys’ state title – at least for the foreseeable future – they are making their presence felt.
That much was sealed Wednesday night when The Haverford School capped off the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (EPSLA) quarterfinal round with a 6-4 win over defending state champion Downingtown East at Central Bucks West’s War Memorial Field.
The Fords will join La Salle, the winner of Wednesday night’s early game, and Inter-Ac rivals Malvern Prep and Penn Charter in the last-ever EPSLA Final Four Friday night at Garnet Valley.
“We’re psyched to be there, we’re psyched there’s four private schools in the Final Four,” said Haverford coach John Nostrant, whose team will meet La Salle at 8 p.m. “We feel like we’re playing the best lacrosse we’ve played since March.”
The low-scoring nightcap featured some sloppy play on both sides, but Downingtown East coach Tom Slate felt his side ultimately made too many mistakes.
“Really just fundamental errors, catching and throwing, we could never really get in a groove,” Slate said. “(If) you can’t catch and throw, it’s tough.”
The Cougars’ mistakes allowed third-seeded Haverford (17-6) to control possession for most of the second quarter, and the Fords used Mike Rufo and Craig Owen’s goals to push their advantage to 3-0 just over two minutes into the frame.
The score stayed that way for nearly the entire remainder of the half, as the Fords were unable to again break through the Cougars’ veteran defense until Doug Emrich’s long clearing pass with time winding down in the half triggered a fastbreak situation.
In the ensuing scramble, long-stick midfielder Pete Borror found Ben Bourke (two goals) all alone on the right wing, and Bourke ripped a shot past Downingtown East keeper Mike Strathy (seven saves) with one-tenth of a second remaining in the half to leave the score 4-0 at halftime.
“Ben’s been the heart and soul of our team, he rides everything back, and he’s relentless,” Nostrant said of his senior attackman, who is headed for Williams College.
In the third quarter, the sixth-seeded Cougars (15-7) pushed back, and goals from Kyle Marcks, Shane Sturgis and Dylan Hoff brought the defending champions back to within one.
But that was as close as they would get. The final quarter brought Bourke’s second tally, as he found a mismatch, dodged from behind and snuck the ball past Strathy. The goal was Haverford’s fifth and proved to be the game-winner.
“My longpole got off me for that play, so I thought I could take it to the rack,” Bourke said of the game-winner. “I was going hard all game and I guess it just worked out right there.”
Freshman Carl Walrath closed out Haverford’s scoring a couple of minutes later off of another Owen feed.
Downingtown East got its final goal soon afterwards, when Alex Gannett found the ball off of a botched Haverford clear in the Fords’ end and fed Taylor Nelson in front of the net.
Morgan Young also scored for Haverford and goalie Dan Wigrizer was called upon for only four saves.