By Mike Prince
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/30/12
La Salle will head to Maryland to play a key Philly-Baltimore game next week with plenty of momentum.
Junior Matt Rambo scored three goals today to help the Explorers (3-0) defeat visiting Episcopal Academy, 7-5, in a non-league game between two undefeated teams ranked in the national polls and high in the PA Media Rankings.
Next Tuesday, the Explorers travel to Maryland to square off against Gilman, a national powerhouse ranked as the fourth-best team in the country, per MaxPreps.com. It’s also a homecoming for Coach Bill Leahy, a Baltimore native who is in his 21st year with the Explorers.
“I’m from Baltimore, so any time I have a chance to go home and make an impression, it’s good,” Leahy said. “And any time you play and beat a Philly rival, it gives you a good vibe to head somewhere like Baltimore.”
La Salle entered play ranked No. 23 by MaxPreps, while EA was No. 20. La Salle is No. 3 in the PA Media Rankings while EA is No. 4.
Rambo helped the Explorers (3-0, 1-0) avenge an 11-9 season-opening loss to EA last year – a game which was still on the players’ minds on Friday.
“It definitely was something we were all thinking about,” Rambo said. “That’s all we were referring to before the game. We didn’t want the same thing to happen this year that happened last year. They beat us in the first game of the season and we were shocked.”
Rambo made sure to not let that happen again.
After the Churchmen (5-1) opened the scoring just over a minute into regulation when Morgan Westby got one past La Salle senior goalkeeper Corey Shaffer, La Salle found its groove on offense and started to roll.
Jeff Cimbalista and Rambo scored goals just 39 seconds apart to give the Explorers a 2-1 lead three minutes into the first quarter. Trupert Ortlieb got one back for EA and tied the game at 2-2 exactly one minute after Rambo’s first goal, but with 4:08 showing on the first quarter clock, Stephen Hudak took a pass from Cimbalista and put the Explorers back on top for good.
Just five seconds later, Rambo took a pass from Adam Stefanowicz and put La Salle up 4-2. After a scoreless second quarter, Stefanowicz opened the third quarter scoring on an unassisted goal to put La Salle up 5-2.
The Churchmen came back with two goals of their own late in the stanza, cutting the Explorers’ lead to 5-4, but La Salle’s defense buckled down and Shaffer stepped up when he needed to the most.
“When it was 5-4, it was just get the faceoff, possess the ball on offense and try to kill off some clock,” Rambo said. “We wanted to try to get one in and make it 6-4. That’s much better than a 5-5 game.”
La Salle’s Pete Auteri put the Explorers back up by two, at 6-4, midway through the fourth quarter. And after Westby scored again for EA to make things interesting, Rambo scored his third goal of the game and La Salle held on for the win.
Leahy was impressed with the play of Shaffer (six saves, four groundballs) late in the game.
“He came up very big at the end when we needed him, so I’ll take it,” said Leahy. “I was very pleased.”
Rambo added three ground balls, while midfielder Brendan McGonigle recorded three ground balls for the Explorers, who outshot the Churchmen 18-13.
The La Salle defense was led by Casey Eidenshink, Ryan Eidenshink, Stefan Bergman, Brendan Freyvogel, Colin Kelley, and George Uhrich.
Ian Strain also scored once and had one assist for EA. While the Churchmen won the face-off battle, 11-4 behind Jon Garino, La Salle won the ground ball battle, finishing with 16 to only 10 for EA.
“We need to play harder,” said EA coach Andy Hayes. “They outplayed us and outworked us and they were very well prepared for us. It’s a good thing for us to have to deal with a little adversity going into the league.
“This is why we play games like this; to go into the league (with great competition). We had a great March – one of the best Marches we’ve had in recent memory, but that’s how good lacrosse is around here.”
Said Leahy: “We played hard. That’s what we do. We played hard and a lot of guys made mistakes, but then came back and did good things afterwards. It was a step in the right direction before we head to Baltimore.
“We are a true team. We play 12 middies deep, nine defensemen and four attackers. That’s a lot of guys playing and usually you don’t do that. I’ll take any of those guys any day. They’re very hard workers.”
With athree days off before having to travel down south to face Gilman, Rambo believes his team is ready for the big challenge that awaits them.
“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “I definitely love traveling down there and I love playing in different states. It’s going to be fun.”
La Salle 7, Episcopal Academy 5
La Salle 4-0-1-2–7
Episcopal Ac. 2-0-2-1– 5
Matt Rambo 3g
Jeff Cimbalista 1g, 1a
Adam Stefanowicz 1g, 1a
Steve Hudak 1g
Peter Auteri 1g
Corey Shaffer 6 saves
Morgan Westby 2g 1a
Ian Strain 1g 1a
Trupert Ortlieb 2 g
Coote 3 saves 1st half
Morrell 2 Saves 2nd Half