By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/21/12
On a pleasant spring evening before nearly 2,000 people, Haverford School and host Episcopal Academy met in a first-place showdown that did not disappoint.
Junior Gavin McBride deposited a perfect feed from Zach Rego 59 seconds into overtime to lift Haverford to a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Churchmen.
The win capped a strong rally for the Fords (11-1, 4-0), who were down, 8-6, until midway through the final period when they finally solved the EA zone defense.
The Churchmen fell to 11-2 and 3-1. The teams will meet again at Haverford on May 8 in the season’s final regular-season game.
Haverford School entered play ranked No. 3 in the nation by ESPNHS and MaxPreps.com as well as No. 5 by UA/IL. EA came in ranked No. 17 by Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse, No. 18 by MaxPreps.com and and No. 20 by ESPNHS.
But the national rankings meant little here compared to the Inter-Ac League race. All teams have completed their first four games through the league, but rarely have teams gone through undefeated.
On this day, the Fords got tallies from Sam Rohr and Henry Blynn (three goals, two assists) to forge the tie in the fourth period. Neither team had a great chance to score in the final minutes, but early in overtime Haverford gained possession and set up a perfect play as Rego went behind the cage and waited patiently for the cutting McBride.
“Zach Rego had the ball behind and he’s always good about keeping his head up,” said McBride. “I kind of drifted to the backside – and we do that all the time – and he knew where to put it.
“It was right on the money and luckily I put it in.”
McBride said his team knows how to play from behind.
“We’re a very weathered team and we always know we can come back,” he said. “At the end of the game we never lose hope and I think that showed from our seniors.”
Episcopal Academy had taken its lead thanks to a strong third period. The game was tied, 5-5, at halftime, but Morgan Westby put EA ahead 6-5 to open the second half and after Rego (three goals, one assist) scored to tie it for the Fords, Dutch Buckley and Westby again scored late in the period to make it 8-6.
Through the early part of the final quarter, EA maintained possessions and Tyler Morrell (three saves) made several key stops after rotating in for Henry Coote (five saves) for the second half. But the Fords used a turnover as Rohr made it 8-7 with 7:44 to play and Blynn tied it less than two minutes later.
“We didn’t play well enough to win tonight and Haverford did,” said EA coach Andy Hayes. “It was a great game. They are one of the best team in the country and when you’re that good you find ways to come back. If you give theme extra chances then they’re going to score goals. We didn’t hold onto the ball well in the fourth quarter and they took advantage of it.
“But the boys played hard and it was a good game; we’ll be back to work on Monday.”
The Fords led, 4-3, after one period as the game’s pace was swift and passing was pinpoint. EA then took the tempo in the second period when Trupert Ortlieb and Connor Haab scored to give the Churchmen a 5-4 edge. But Will McNamara tied the game just 25 seconds before halftime.
“We were playing too much defense in the second and third quarters,” said Blynn. “We didn’t get our offense going, so we took a deep breath and we said, ‘We have to play our game and play how we were taught.’ So we ran our offense and to no surprise, we started scoring goals.”
Blynn said the Fords have began to jell.
“We definitely know who our guys are now,” he said. “We have our identity and we know how to win games. If our backs are against the wall, we trust our teammates.”
Haverford School 9, Episcopal Academy 8, OT
Haverford School 4-1-1-2-1 – 9
Episcopal Academy 3-2-3-0-0- 8
Gavin McBride 1g (GW goal in ot)
Henry Blynn 3g, 2a
Will McNamara 1g, 2a
Sam Rohr 1g
Zach Rego 3g, 1a
Jake Landman 7 saves
Curtis Zappala 1g, 1a
Connor Haab 1g
Tyler Odell 1g
Morgan Westby 2g
Ian Strain 1a
Trupert Ortleib 1g
Dutch Buckley 1g
Sam Lawlor 2a
Tyler Chambers 1g
Henry Coote 5 saves
Tyler Morrell 3 saves