By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/7/17
As he tends to be, Tom Lemieux was animated in the Springfield-Delco huddle with 38.6 seconds left in Tuesday night’s Central League game at Garnet Valley.
Granted, part of that was because the Cougars were assessed a timeout that Lemieux swore he didn’t call right before pole Nick Matty scored what would have been a go-ahead goal, but Lemieux didn’t change in the ensuing huddle when Kyle Long’s attempted sailed high and Springfield called timeout.
Long, though, never batted an eye.
“I’m freaking out in the huddle and he just looks at me and goes, ‘relax, Coach, we got this,” Lemieux said with a wide smile.
The Maryland commit backed up his quiet confidence. Long got the ball at X out of the timeout, started out to his left before cutting back, getting his hands free and parking a shot in the far top corner with 4.4 seconds left to give the Cougars a 6-5 win over the Jaguars in a battle of two of the Central League’s best.
“I knew I doing that,” Long said. “I knew they weren’t going to slide and make me put the ball in the net. I saw (former Haverford School standout and Penn State sophomore) Grant Ament do that Sunday night on the Big Ten Network.
“A little left-to-right, fake high and put it up high. I saw that and thought I’d try that out. It felt like Avon Grove last year. They scored three in a row,. That game should have been over two minutes before, but you’ve got to find a way to win. You’re not always going to finish how you want to, but you have to find a way.”
Springfield (3-2, 3-1) looked to have the game sealed up when Long scored his second of the night with 1:17 left to make it 5-3, but that was merely the start of the fireworks. The Jaguars’ Rei Lopez – who finished the night 14-for-15 at the X – won the next faceoff to set up a Jake Buttermore tally.
Eighteen seconds later, Buttermore did it again after another Lopez win. Luckily for Springfield, though, Andrew Pickett came away with his lone win of the night at the perfect time when Matty scooped up a ground ball, charged downfield and momentarily scored.
All it did was set up a historic moment as Long became the third player in Springfield history to join the 200-point club after 1992 alum Greg Campbell and 2015 grad Lucas Spence. At the rate he’s going, Long will sit atop the list in no time.
“It’s a good group to be a part of with guys like Greg Campbell and Lucas Spence,” Long said. “I knew coming into the season that I needed around 20 points, but I wasn’t keeping track game-to-game.
“I’ve played on some great teams and we’ve played a lot of extra games because of playoffs, and it’s a blessing to have so many great players around me since most of my points are assists. I’ve just got to keep getting better. If I pass it, I pass it, but I’m not too focused on it.”
It didn’t take long for Matty to get over the fact that he’d had a potential game-winning goal taken away.
“I’m over it,” he said. “It’s a team win and that’s all I care about,” Matty said. “I didn’t know what was going on. I thought they called a penalty and heard it was a timeout.”
Garnet Valley (3-2, 3-1) never led despite Lopez’s faceoff mastery as the Jaguars struggled to beat Springfield-Delco All-American goalie James Spence (eight saves). Denny Nealon and Evan Trizonis also scored for GV, and the Jaguars will soon become even more dangerous when two-time All-American Matt Moore returns to the lineup. The Virginia signee warmed up but didn’t play, but he’s expected to return in the next week or two from foot surgery.
“I just had to go to the net at that time,” said Buttermore. “I didn’t care who was on me. It’s pretty hard to stay patient in a game like that because you have to keep your team patient, too.
“This game was basically a possession game, but Springfield came up in the fourth quarter. I have to give it to (Long): it was a hell of a goal.”
It sure was, from a guy who’s had a couple of those.
Springfield-Delco (3-2, 3-1) 2 1 1 2 — 6
Kyle Long 3g
Mike Tulskie 2g
Joe DeBernardi 1g
Pat Clemens 1a
James Spence 8 saves
Garnet Valley (3-2, 3-1) 1 1 0 3 — 5
Jake Buttermore 3g, 1a
Denny Nealon 1g
Evan Trizonis 1g
Rei Lopez 14-for-15 faceoffs
Jason Rose 10 saves