By Russ Atkinson
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/26/10
Junior attackman Joe Venit scored his second goal of the game with three minutes and one second left in the fourth overtime Tuesday to give Springfield-Delco a thrilling 7-6 triumph over Garnet Valley in the District 1 semifinals at Ridley.
The victory advanced the top-seeded Cougars (19-1) into the championship game against Central League rival Conestoga Thursday at Radnor at 8 p.m. Conestoga topped Abington, 13-5, in the other semifinal. During the regular season, Springfield defeated the Pioneers, 4-3, in overtime and went on to win the Central League crown.
Garnet Valley (16-5), the fifth seed, will play Abington for the District’s third spot in the upcoming Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) tournament Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Lower Merion. The early time was granted due to Abington’s Prom.
“The whole team really played hard together,” said Venit. “We have good team offense, and we kept firing until we won. We are are in for a dog fight on Thursday against Conestoga….we gotta get back to work.”
Just as it did Saturday when it rallied from a 6-2 third-period deficit against Hatboro-Horsham, Springfield-Delco made a dramatic comeback to win.
With less than three minutes left in the game, Garnet Valley was sitting on a 6-4 lead and trying to run out the clock. Springfield-Delco’s relentless defense went to work and stripped Garnet Valley, setting the stage for Venit’s unassisted goal with 2:29 to go.
Garnet Valley won the ensuing face-off and took a time out. Again, the Jags tried to run out the clock, but the Springfield-Delco defense began to press and senior goalie Austin Kaut (10 saves) made the play of the game by intercepting a pass across the crease before clearing and allowing the Cougars to call time with 1:25 to play.
After the time-out Springfield moved the ball down to Venit, who took his man high in front of the goal. Venit then hit a wide open Colin Keegan (two goals), who ripped one past Billy Neilson (18 saves) with :46 left to tie the game.
Neilson and midfielder Rickey Lehman (seven ground balls) as well as Mike Montella (two goals, one assist), Eric Warden (one goal, three assists) and Steve Smyrl (two goals) were the major reasons Garnet Valley took the 6-4 lead. Josh Cavanaugh (two goals) and Joe Devinney (one goal) kept the Cougars alive early.
The overtime periods saw back and forth play with neither side getting much of an advantage until the third extra frame when Springfield’s offense turned up the heat on Garnet Valley. Neilson had several key saves, but soon the Cougars’ midfield got Venit the ball for the game-winner.
Venit, who has committed to St. John’s, also had the game-winning tally in Saturday’s victory over Hatboro-Horsham.