By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/25/17
Jake Martellucci had seen the same situation unfold before with unpleasant results.
In other years, Episcopal Academy’s lack of relative depth might have done it in against Malvern Prep in the fourth quarter. The Churchmen have struggled in recent years to close out games against some of the better opponents on their schedule, and Tuesday, it looked like the Friars would continue that trend when Quinn McCahon scored back-to-back goals some five minutes apart to cut the EA lead to one late in today’s Inter-Ac League game.
Whereas they would have panicked at other times, the Churchmen never wilted, even when Malvern’s Sean Christman won the ensuing faceoff. Goalie Jake Floyd-Jones picked off a cross-crease pass in the Friars’ last-gasp attempt and EA ran out the clock to cement an impressive 9-8 win. The victory means that the Churchmen (7-2, 4-1 Inter-Ac) fully control their Inter-Ac destiny after the first turn of the schedule as they chase their first league title since 1998.
“We’ve definitely been focused on (finishing games),” said midfielder Martellucci, who scored twice. “It’s been a big focus in practice, working extra hard to play those full four quarters, not just getting out to a big lead and stopping. The hard work we’ve been doing in practice has really paid off to just keep going until the end.”
Cole Johnson got the scoring started early for the Churchmen by splitting a pair of defenders and snapping home a bouncer, and EA never trailed. The Friars (10-4, 3-2) got goals from Mike Fay and Jack Traynor to offset another Johnson marker to knot it at two, and later, McCahon scored the first of his three goals to tie it at four, but that’s the last time Malvern found itself square.
On the heels of a Connor Ringwalt goal compliments of an acrobatic Chris McCoun interception on a Malvern clear that made it 7-5 Churchmen, Martellucci got to work. The Maryland signee dumped in a shot from just outside the crease to end the third quarter, and he started the fourth by taking a Johnson dish and rocketing home a high shot past Andrew Clark (five saves) for what held up as the game-winning goal.
On the other hand, a staunch defensive effort led by standout Conner Delaney kept the explosive Malvern offense at bay. The Friars looked out of sync offensively and couldn’t find a way to consistently come up with answers for an aggressive Churchmen effort, led by Delaney and short-sticks Johnson and Quinn Chambers.
“Credit to them, they were pressing out and we’re not really used to defenses pressing out,” McCahon said. “We’re more of a dodge downhill and get in space offense, but they were really pressing us out so it was hard for us to get a full head of steam.
“Credit to them for doing that, because we really haven’t seen that all season. They had great on-ball defense and we had some turnovers that really cost us in the first half, but we cleaned it up in the second half.”
Indeed, they did, but Floyd-Jones was strong in the cage with eight saves. Christman mostly controlled faceoffs for Malvern, winning 13 of 21 battles, but the Friars couldn’t connect on their chances.
Delaney and company had a lot to do with it. The Johns Hopkins basketball commit single-handedly brought a Malvern EMO to a screeching halt at one point by knocking down a pass and goosing it all the way downfield, wasting enough time for the penalty to come to an end. That was just one of the highlights of another lights-out day for the multi-sport standout.
“We’re really coming together as a group,” Delaney said. “Holding a good offensive team like (Springside) Chestnut Hill to five goals and winning a defensive battle really helped our mindset coming into this game. (Malvern) has stars all over the field on offense and to hold them to eight goals, especially with them having the ball with 1:30 left, really helped us.”
Just like that, EA goes into the second turn of the schedule tied with rival Haverford School for the league lead. Don’t think the Churchmen didn’t notice that.
“It’s crazy how it’s been the past couple of years with Malvern and Haverford flip-flopping,” Delaney said. “To be in this situation is great, but it’s going to be whoever wins those close games and whoever takes care of business. Anyone can beat anyone.”
Episcopal Academy 9, Malvern Prep 8
Malvern Prep 3 1 1 3 – 8
Episcopal Academy 4 1 3 1 – 9
Quinn McCahon 3g
Jack Traynor 2g
Scottie White 2g
Mike Fay 1g
Billy Coyle 2a
Sean Christman 13-for-21 faceoffs
Andrew Clark 5 saves
Cole Johnson 2g, 1a
Jake Martellucci 2g
Nate Emrick 1g, 1a
CJ McAnally 1g, 1a
Charlie Cunniffe g
Gabe Furey 1g
Connor Ringwalt 1g
Chris McCoun 1a
Jake Floyd-Jones 8 saves