By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/22/10
Joe Venit scored the game-winner with 2 minutes, 34 seconds to play to cap a furious rally as top-seeded and top-ranked Springfield-Delco earned a hard-fought 7-6 victory today over Hatboro-Horsham in the quarterfinals of the District 1 tournament at Harriton.
The win moved the Cougars (18-1), ranked No. 1 in the PA Media Rankings, into Tuesday’s semifinals against Garnet Valley at Ridley High at 8 p.m. Hatboro-Horsham (17-4) will face Suburban One Continental rival Central Bucks East in the first round of the losers’ bracket at Plymouth Whitemarsh at 6 p.m.
The Cougars (18-1) were down, 6-2, late in the third period before starting a memorable comeback on a goal by Venit with 41 seconds left in the period. Josh Cavanaugh (three assists) scored shortly before the period ended to make it 6-4.
In the final frame, Springfield’s Colin Keegan (two goals) made it 6-5 and then Bobby Gildea (two assists) tied it with 3:45 to play to set the stage for Venit’s heroics. Cougars goalie and Central League MVP Austin Kaut, who made 11 saves and kept his team alive all day, had a key save in the final seconds to preserve the victory.
“What an amazing comeback,” said Venit. “We couldn’t really come out and make excuses, we just had to fight to the end and show everybody that we deserve to be the No. 1 seed in the state.
“It’s about playing four quarters. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best first punch because we’re the No. 1 seed. We just have to follow through and we’ll come out with a win. I knew Austin would keep us in it and that the offense would finally click.”
Springfield-Delco coach Michael Friel said his Cougars struggled to react to Hatboro-Horsham’s zone defense and cited the brilliant goaltending of Hatters senior Dino Vitale (12 saves).
“We did not handle the zone very well,” Friel said. “The only reason we won this game is because assistant coach (Tom) Lemieux changed our offense in the fourth period to our pairs (movement offense).
“Their goalie (Vitale) played great and we missed the goal. But when we put that offense in in the fourth quarter, everything changed. Again, Austin proved he is the best goaltender in the state of Pennsylvania. he is unbelievable.
“Their whole team came to play – I knew they could, they are an eighth seed for a reason. But they gave us their best shot for four quarters.”
Hatboro-Horsham got two goals and an assist from Kyle Schwarz and two goals from Jake Durkin as well a single goals by Ryan Kreston and Greg Cutilli. Despite the loss, the Hatters feel they proved a lot to themselves.
“It’s frustrating because we had a 6-2 lead and all the momentum and we all played our hearts out,” said HH senior midfield standout Eddie Coombs, who contributed an assist. “It’s tough to see the score at the end of the game.
“I think we shocked everyone and showed we deserve to be on the field with the top teams. We have more lacrosse to play and we have to come back focused Monday (for practice) and ready to play.”