By Dave Kurtz
Courtesy of PAC-10Sports.com
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/11/12
Zach Monzo had one eye on the scoreboard clock and the other on the ball as he positioned himself on destiny’s doorstep.
Spring-Ford teammate Casey Pettine was streaking up the right wing after Alec Orcutt’s critical draw control, and Monzo knew that time was running out. It was a freeze-frame moment for the Rams’ senior sniper, who in one slick motion, caught Pettine’s dead-on pass and one-timed it right into the back of the net.
The highlight-reel caliber conversion with 0.3 seconds remaining provided a fitting conclusion to Spring-Ford’s electrifying, PAC-10 championship-sealing 9-8 triumph over bitter rival Owen J. Roberts Thursday evening at Phoenixville’s Washington Field.
In a Pioneer Athletic Conference boys’ lacrosse final had more dramatic turns than a Quentin Tarantino screenplay, Monzo pulled off a fade-to-black finish that was hard to believe.
“I felt like Casey was going to rip it at first, but then he ended up dishing it off,” said Monzo. “I had looked up at the clock just before that and saw there was one second left – so I knew I had to release it quick.
“We knew it could come down to the last goal in the last minute, but we know how to take care of business.”
Monzo’s late strike closed the deal on the Rams’ second straight PAC-10 title and ruined the heroics of the Wildcats’ Mike Lenge, who connected after a scramble in front of the net to lock things up at 8 with 9 seconds remaining.
The last 10 seconds epitomized the back-and-forth struggle that featured seven ties and no lead greater than two goals. OJR, which got four goals and one assist from John Pennell, played frontrunner for most of the night and led 6-4 entering the fourth quarter.
But Justin Kelly converted a Paul Major assist into a goal in the opening minute of the final frame to draw Spring-Ford within one and Pettine cashed a Kelly pass to lock things up at 6 at the 8:52 mark.
“We were focused on controlling the ball more and staying patient,” said Rams coach Kevin Donnelly. “Our defense played great. Every one of their shots was contested, and Matt Messerle was just awesome.”
Messerle finished with 17 saves, but couldn’t stop Tyler Graham’s workmanlike goal at the 2:13 mark that gave the Cats a 7-6 lead. The ride on the seesaw continued with Monzo scoring off Kelly’s assist and Major pouring in his third goal of the night with a creative spin move at the 40-second mark to give the Rams their first lead at 8-7. After Lenge answered right back, it was Monzo who had the last word.
“They made a great play to finish it off,” said OJR coach Jeff Neese. “We were working hard, but we missed 21 shots in the first half, and we could have had a lot more on the board. You leave them in the game and you see what happens.
“I thought we were in good shape when we were up by two goals. It was going back and forth, but after we scored with 9 seconds left, I thought it was going to overtime.”
Monzo had other ideas.
QUICK STRIKES – Spring-Ford and OJR have been in every championship final since boys’ lacrosse officially debuted in the PAC-10 six years ago. The rivals have each won three titles: Spring-Ford (2007, 2011, 2012), OJR (2008, 2009, 2010) … Matt Boyer collected 11 saves for the Cats, who outshot the Rams, 48-23 … Messerle got plenty of help from the Spring-Ford defense, which featured Ian Hare, Dan Costello, Mason Romano, Brian Tatum and Jack Haney. Hare was forced to leave the game after taking a shot in the back early in the third quarter.
Spring-Ford 9, Owen J. Roberts 8
Spring-Ford 0 2 2 5 – 9
OJ Roberts 1 2 3 2 – 8
Paul Major 3g, 2a
Justin Kelly 2g, 2a
Casey Pettine 2g, 1a
Zach Monzo 2g
Goalie Matt Messerle 17 saves
Owen J. Roberts
John Pennell 4g, 1a
Chris Antich 3a
Tyler Graham 1g, 2a
Ryan Kent 1g
Mike Lenge 2g
Will Snelling 1a