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Katie Samson boys’ roundup: O’Connor lifts Haverford school past Downingtown East in OT

Saturday, 26th April 2008

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Chris Goldberg & Willie McGonigle, Posted 4/26/08

Two teams that figure to make some noise in the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association playoffs hooked up Saturday in classic battle at the 8th Annual Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival at Radnor.

Rory O’Connor took a perfect feed from Colton Growney and scored the game-winner with 1 minute, 43 seconds left in the second overtime to give Haverford School a 6-5 triumph over Downingtown East.

The goal capped a strong comeback by the Fords, who trailed, 4-0, until scoring three goals within a 49-second span in the closing minutes of the third period.

Shane Sturgis, however, gave the Cougars a 5-3 lead on a steal and a breakaway goal with 6:49 to play. But Stephen Aitken cut the deficit to 5-4 with 3:46 to play and Mike Rufo sent the game into overtime off a Craig Owen feed with just two seconds to play.

Haverford, which had possession most of the second half, also controlled the ball during the entire overtime periods. O’Connor had plenty of room to beat Mike Strathy (12 saves) after taking the pass from Growney.

“My teammates just set it up perfectly,” said O’Connor, a senior who was mobbed by the Haverford team after the goal. “I don’t think I could have asked for a better setup. It was the greatest experience of my life.”

Downingtown East (8-6), which had its six-game win streak snapped, took a 4-0 lead on a pair of goals by Dylan Hoff and one each by Taylor Nelson and Andrew Zelinski. But Growney, Owen and Rufo ended the shutout in style with the late third-period flurry.

“Our seniors really stepped it up today,” O’Connor said. “And we had some great play from juniors like Mike Rufo and Colton Growney. One of our mottos is, ‘We can never give up.’”

O’Connor said the Fords (10-4), who have five straight wins and are ranked third by, are peaking for the end of the season.

“We’re starting to turn the corner,” he said. “We started off strong, then we went into a little slump. We didn’t play as well as we should have, but we played well enough to win.”

The Cougars, ranked seventh, also appear primed to make a post-season run.

“We started out well and couldn’t clear the ball out of our end, and when we did in the third period we threw it away,” said Downingtown East coach Tom Slate. “And they possessed the ball 80 percent of the game. We got caught at the end there.
“This stings a little, but we’re geared up for the playoffs.”

La Salle 9, Ridley 4

Westy Hopkins scored four goals and goalie Niko Amato had nine saves to pace the No. 1 Explorers (21-1) to a win over the fourth-ranked Raiders (13-2). La Salle, ranked fourth in the STX/Inside Lacrosse National High School Poll, won its 20th straight game. Tyler Johnston had two goals for Ridley.

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