By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/28/17
It wasn’t long ago that Malvern Prep was looked at as the best team in the state and one of the country’s elite.
The Friars won their first five games by an average of eight goals per game, including manhandling MIAA powerhouse Calvert Hall and Central League contenders Garnet Valley and Strath Haven. That, coupled with the depth assembled by John McEvoy, had many wondering if this was the team that could replicate Malvern’s perfect season in 2014.
A loss to 2016 PIAA finalist La Salle put an end to those plans, then the Friars lost control of the Inter-Ac race with a loss to rival Haverford School. Earlier this week, they dropped a one-goal heartbreaker to Episcopal Academy and appeared to be on the outside looking in at the league race.
One game can change everything. Faced with the likelihood of being knocked out of the league race with a third loss, the Friars stormed back from an early four-goal deficit to knock off Haverford, 12-9, Thursday behind three goals and an assist from Mike Fay and 13 saves from Andrew Clark.
“We definitely learned from the first round of the Inter-Ac,” said Fay, a Notre Dame signee. “(Wednesday) at practice, we pulled everyone in and said, ‘Listen, guys, it’s the second round. We can still be a great team. It’s on us and we have to trust each other.’”
The Friars (11-4, 4-2 Inter-Ac) needed that trust more than ever when the Fords (8-5, 4-2) stormed out to a 5-1 lead on the strength of two goals apiece from Scott Deck and Luke O’Grady. It was somewhat reminiscent of the first time the two teams played, and in that game, Malvern didn’t push back the way it wished it could have. The second time around was different, though.
“They came back firing,” said Haverford attackman TJ Malone, who had a goal and two assists. “The last time we were up three or four goals, they kind of folded, but this time, they fought back and we weren’t ready for it.”
Few would have been. Undaunted by the early deficit, Malvern reeled off a 5-1 run of its own, which included a pair of Jack Traynor goals. Fay brought the hosts even late in the second, and while Haverford took the lead back early in the third on a Conner Mosebrook goal, there was a sense that the momentum stood with the Friars.
“Coach McEvoy says that the only way to stop a run is to make a run yourself,” Fay said. “We were able to make a good run in the second quarter and we tied it up. From there on, it was just a battle until the fourth quarter and we were able to pull away with it.”
They did so thanks to a few unlikely stars. Jordan Donaghy found himself so open thanks to a Quinn McCahon feed that he seemed unsure of whether or not he should shoot the ball. Once he did, the Penn State commit had built the Friars’ lead to two, and then Jimmy Gabrielsen capped the scoring to send Haverford packing and give Episcopal Academy an outright half-game lead in the Inter-Ac race.
The Friars, who still have to play the Churchmen again, wouldn’t have been in that position without the services of senior goalie Andrew Clark. The Christopher Newport commit was strong in the cage, stoning 13 shots, seven of which came in the second half. He made timely saves that helped slow down the explosive Haverford offense.
“We were thinking that it’s happened before when we were down in games and we were able to come back,” Clark said. “The offense stepped up and got a couple goals and that’s when we knew that all we had to do was do our job and we’d win this game.”
They did just that, and in doing so, tossed the Inter-Ac into even more disarray. What better way to get the second round of league play started?
Haverford School (8-5) 4 3 1 1 — 9
Luke O’Grady 4g, 1a
Scott Deck 2g
TJ Malone 1g, 2a
Johnny Nostrant 1g, 1a
Conner Mosebrook 1g
Parker Henderer 11 saves
Malvern Prep 1 6 3 2 — 12
Mike Fay 3g, 1a
Billy Coyle 2g, 1a
Scottie White 2g, 1a
Jack Traynor 2g, 1a
Jimmy Gabrielsen 1g, 1a
Seamus Glynn 1g
Jordan Donaghy 1g
Quinn McCahon 2a
Sean Christman 15-for-25 faceoffs
Andrew Clark 13 saves