By Dave Kurtz, Courtney of Pac-10sports.com
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/15/14
There are plenty of things that veteran Owen J. Roberts coach Jeff Neese can control between the white lines on the lacrosse field.
But when it comes to addressing what goes on between his players’ ears, Neese’s hands are tied, especially when the Wildcats are facing longtime nemesis Spring-Ford.
“It’s in their heads,” said Neese, following Monday evening’s 9-7 Pioneer Athletic Conference loss to the Rams at Coach McNelly Stadium. “The kids have to believe that they can beat Spring-Ford. We had been playing well since losing to them (10-7 on March 28), but we lost our poise and our confidence tonight. Spring-Ford had a lot to do with that. They just took it to us.”
OJR’s confidence level had to be soaring following a run of six unanswered goals spanning the first and second quarters that erased a 2-0 deficit and gave the visitors a 6-3 edge at the break.
But the Rams (8-0 league, 8-2 overall) found their mojo in the second half, holding the Cats to one lonely goal after intermission while racking up six strikes of their own en route to the win.
Getting a combined four goals and three assists from Zach Hare and Alex Marte, the three-time defending PAC-10 champions completed a sweep of the season series and had OJR (7-2, 8-2) on its collective heels for most of the final 24 minutes.
Spring-Ford ramped up the pressure in the third quarter, drawing even at 6-6 on goals by Liam Hare, Zach Hare and Danny Krieble (assisted by Marte). After Jack Colt scored off an assist from Austin DelGatto with 6:41 left to put the Wildcats back in front at 7-6, the Rams took all of 5 seconds to regain their equilibrium when sophomore Justin Schwenk controlled the ensuing draw and fed a breaking Kevin Todd for the equalizer.
Austin Pecharo then fired home the go-ahead goal on a well-placed shot to the top left corner of the net at the 5:53 mark to make it 8-7. Following a costly turnover forced by Carter Gensler, Marte cashed the insurance goal with 4:08 remaining.
“There was nothing individual about that second half, it was a total team effort,” said Spring-Ford coach Kevin Donnelly. “We weren’t playing our game in the first half, but we made some adjustments and the kids started flying around, playing aggressively. They love the fastbreak and playing in transition. But we turned it up a notch. We started having a little success, and we built on it.”
While the Rams were building momentum, the Cats were crumbling. Despite getting two goals and one assist from DelGatto and solid work from goalie Christian Wood with nine saves, OJR failed to sustain what they’d constructed when Zach DeCarlo, Chris Kent, Sam Garges, Chris Antich and Delgatto (2 goals) all found the range in a span of 10:42 for the 6-2 lead early on.
But anchored by the renewed focus of defenders Liam Hare, Parker Hartline and Connor Crawford, Spring-Ford put an abrupt halt to that scoring bonanza.
“There was a momentum swing after all those early goals,” said Spring-Ford’s Liam Hare. “I thought the second half was one of our better halves defensively this season. We stayed in as tight as we could and didn’t let them get too much going.”
NOTES: Spring-Ford also won the showdown on the stat sheet, posting advantages of 23-17 in groundballs and 36-27 in shots … Neese: “We made too many unforced errors and we weren’t getting any groundballs in the second half. Plus we were hitting post after post. I think Austin (DelGatto) hit the post himself three times.”
Owen J. Roberts 1 5 0 1 – 7
Spring-Ford 2 1 3 3 – 9
Owen J. Roberts (7) – Zach DeCarlo 1g, Chris Kent 1g, Sam Garges 1g 1a, Austin Delgatto 2g 1a, Chris Antich 1g, Ben Hiltebeitel 1a, Jack Colt 1g, Christian Wood 9 saves
Spring-Ford (9) – Zach Hare 2g 1a, Alex Marte 2g 2a, Jake Hvazda 1g, Liam Hare 1g, Danny Krieble 1g, Kevin Todd 1g, Justin Schwent 1a, Austin Pecharo 1g, Carter Gensler 1a, Matt Messerle 9 saves
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