By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/15/08
La Salle coach Bill Leahy was not surprised his Explorers needed to play their best game against St. Joseph’s Prep in tonight’s Catholic League boys’ championship game.
“That’s what we expected, it’s a great rivalry,” said Leahy. “It’s a great rivalry in all the sports. When these teams play throw everything out the window. There’s a lot of emotion.”
In front of a large crowd at Plymouth Whitemarsh, La Salle rallied for a 6-5 thriller over the stubborn Hawks, claiming its fifth straight league crown and 14th under Leahy in his 17 years at the helm.
Randy Forster, Pete Schwartz (two goals) and Kevin Forster tallied consecutive goals to open the fourth quarter after The Prep (20-4) had notched four unanswered goals to seize a 4-3 lead.
Brendan O’Donnell (two goals, two assists) brought the Hawks within 6-5 off a feed from Bob Hurley with 3 minutes, 29 seconds to play. But La Salle, which dominated possession in the second half thanks to junior face-off man Derek Bogorowski, salted the rest of the clock.
The Explorers (26-2), ranked second by Phillylacrosse.com, wrapped up one of the top seeds in the upcoming Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (EPSLA) playoffs. The Hawks, ranked sixth, hope to garner at least a top-eight spot.
“We got in the huddle and told everyone to calm down and play our game,” said La Salle senior defender Eric Heisner of his team’s talk after the third quarter ended. “They kind of got us flustered and out of our game because of the big rivalry.
“Once we settled the game down and played like we usually do, we played fine.”
Leahy noted how his team has rallied since losing face-off and midfield standout Tyler Knarr to a major knee injury.
“Having lost Tyler Knarr – who is such a charismatic player – earlier in the season, we’re still trying to define the puzzle,” Leahy said. “And tonight we took a major step forward. Our offense functioned great against the zone.
“We took over 40 shots and hit a lot of pipes.”
La Salle took a 3-0 lead on first-period goals by Schwartz, senior co-captain Conrad Ridgway and second-quarter tally by Westy Hopkins. But the Hawks, who got nine saves from sophomore goalie Mike Zikoski, got their zone defense in order and began to peck away at the lead.
Brendan Glynn scored midway through the second quarter off a feed from O’Donnell and then fed O’Donnell for another tally with 1:03 left in the half. Colin Fleming tied the game for the Hawks early in the second half and Kenny Lankford put them ahead, 4-3, off a nifty inside pass from O’Donnell 4:06 left in the quarter.
“First off, hats off to La Salle for winning,” said Prep coach Dan Keating. “They have a great program coached by great coaches. Our guys fought – they did exactly what they were supposed to do today, they just came up short.”
Keating said his Hawks realized their could play with La Salle and began to gain confidence.
“I called a timeout after the first goal and told them to calm down and treat it like practice,” he said. “They’re resilient; they were fine. Once we saw we could dodge and move the ball, we were comfortable.”
Keating admitted that La Salle’s ability to possess the ball was critical. The Explorers also got strong defensive play from juniors Tucker Durkin, Tyler Houchins and Mike Noone, along with Heisner.
“The face-off was crucial,” Keating said. “That is something we have to work on for the playoffs.
“We needed more possessions in the second half. We played a lot of defense. We took like 21 shots. We try to take 30 or 40 shots a game. It’s tough when you don’t have the ball.
“And when you’re playing against a great defense and a great goalie and an offense that comes at you every possession, it’s tough.”
Archbishop Wood 18, Roman Catholic 7
Shane Miller scored four goals as the Vikings (17-6) whipped the Cahillites (11-10) in the consolation game at PW, earning a ticket to the EPSLA playoffs.
Sean McCartney, Sean Lindenmuth, Mike Maxwell and Greg Colbridge added two goals apiece and goalie Ben Worthington posted nine saves.
“We were disappointed in the way we played the other night against Prep,” said Wood coach Don Mangin, of a 14-4 semifinal loss to St. Joseph’s Prep Tuesday. “Our goal was to be in this (championship) game playing La Salle.
“But we’re happy with winning the game today. Me and (Roman coach) Jimmy Brennan are good friends. It’s more than a playoff game between him and me; it’s a friendly rivalry.”