By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/31/09
After losing its last two games in overtime, the La Salle lacrosse team found itself in yet another overtime game today against a top-tier team.
This time, Peter Schwartz scored with 1 minute, 20 seconds left in the second OT to lift the host Explorers to a 4-3 triumph over rival Malvern Prep.
The win improved La Salle – ranked third in the PA State Media Rankings and by Phillylacrosse.com to 2-3. Malvern, ranked fifth in both rankings, fell to 1-3.
La Salle dropped two straight games last week to Baltimore powers, Gilman School (8-7) and Calvert Hall (11-10), despite coming out with big leads and holding the edge until the final seconds of overtime. The losses, combined with their opening-day defeat to Conestoga, dropped the defending state champion Explorers off their perch as the No. 2 team in the nation (by Inside Lacrosse) entering the season.
But today against a Malvern team starving for a win itself, La Salle’s Randy Forster sent the game into overtime with 3:38 to play in regulation. Both teams had their chances in overtime, but Schwartz finally solved Friars’ junior goalie Andrew O’Connell (12 saves) with a hard, low drive. The 4-3 score was the same La Salle won by in last year’s Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association title game.
“I think this is a huge step forward for us,” said Schwartz. “We’ve struggled in overtime the last couple games. I don’t think we started as well as we usually do, but we hung in there.
“It’s tough to lose those tight ones. We just have to come out and keep plugging away. I think we lack confidence, but this will help.”
La Salle took a 1-0 lead in the first period on a goal by Derek Bogorowski, but Malvern tied it with a second left in the half on the first of two tallies by Andrew Layne. Jack Bogorowski gave the Explorers a 2-1 edge early in the second half, but Ryan Creighton tied it later in the period.
Layne gave the Friars a 3-2 lead with 4:16 left in the final frame when he beat Niko Amato (eight saves), but Kevin Forster fed Randy Forster for the game-tying tally.
In the two losses last week, La Salle committed turnovers and other key mistakes that led to the game-tying goals in the last minute of regulation. This time, Malvern, which also has played a very tough schedule, felt the sting of losing a late lead.
“We definitely need a win,” said Malvern Prep coach John McEvoy. “Playing games like this serve as a lesson. You learn a lot from them, hopefully you do. We have to learn how to finish games out. We had a lead and lost it and had our chances to finish and didn’t.”
The Friars are still trying to find their offensive rhythm after losing several key offensive stars to graduation. The Malvern defense was again strong against the vaunted La Salle attack, and O’Connell was strong.
“We have some young, inexperienced guys playing offense; we’ll get better,” said McEvoy. “The defense stepped forward today. The goaltending was very good on both ends of the field. We’ll take this and try to get better for Friday (in their Inter-Ac League opener at Episcopal Academy); the schedule doesn’t get any easier. There are no layups.”
La Salle has yet another tough game coming up – Saturday at New York power West Genesee.
“We needed the win bad after the losses to Calvert Hall and Gilman,” said La Salle coach Bill Leahy. “You’re talking about playing some of the best teams in the country and going to overtime with all of them.
“I’m glad we’ve taken on the best and fallen short in overtime, rather than a different schedule where we have a bunch of (easy) wins.”
Added Schwartz: “It’s definitely a tough schedule, but everyone would not have it any other way. We have to come out to every practice and play like it’s a state championship and take that into the games.”