Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/18/18
With a sense of urgency, TJ Malone grabbed his stick and got to work. It was the middle of the fourth quarter of Friday’s Inter-Ac semifinals at Cabrini University, and the Haverford School attackman had important matters to attend do. So following his instinct, Malone got in position and started firing away.
The imperative task? Someone on the Haverford School sideline needed to warm up third-string goalie Robert Esgro, whose name the boisterous student section was chanting, so that the sophomore could finish out the game with archrival Episcopal Academy.
It was that kind of leisurely ending for the Fords, who ran roughshod with nine goals in a 10-minute stretch in the second quarter in walloping EA, 15-9.
The win moves the top-seeded Fords into Monday’s final (7 p.m.) against No. 2 Malvern Prep, which survived a scare from No. 3 Penn Charter, 9-8, in the second semifinal.
Malone was unstoppable. He scored six times, including five goals in a first half where the Fords held a 6-0 advantage, and dished four assists. The space he created for teammates made the dynamic attack impossible to contain.
“It makes him a huge threat,” attackman Scott Deck said of Malone. “It draws all the defenders to him, and that makes other people wide open. And I think he’s very unselfish.
“He’s really good at getting enough points to where the defense starts freaking out and worrying about him, but then he comes back and he hits somebody with an assist and we score with him off-ball.”
The Fords took flight around Malone. Deck and Adam Salvaggio had a goal and two assists each. Luke O’Grady pumped home a hat trick and set up Malone’s last tally. Peter Garno scored twice, including a sensational behind-the-back goal in the third quarter, part of a seven-goal stanza.
The starters departed with a 15-3 lead, and the final margin was only padded by the Churchmen scoring the game’s final six markers.
“It’s just really fun because me, Luke and TJ are pretty good friends, and when we get clicking like that, we know it’s super effective and we love doing that,” Deck said. “When we’re playing quick passes and getting to goal, and one person dodges, moves it, dodges, that’s when we have the most fun and that’s when we do the best.”
The first half shaped up as a battle of goaltenders. At the break, Harrison Fellheimer of Haverford had eight saves, posting a goose egg. Matt Chess of EA was just as good, keeping his team in contact with five denials. He’d finish with 10 on the day.
Gavin Burke had a hand in two of the first-quarter tallies, scoring 12 seconds into the game and feeding Malone for a transition goal in a man-down situation.
Charlie Cunniffe, Gabe Furey and Nick Bates scored twice each for the Churchmen, and Cunniffe chipped in an assist. But once the Fords got rolling, Malone and company were too much to keep a lid on.
“When we can get out to an early lead, it’s really great for us because our offense is so good,” Malone said. “We work so well together, so we can really try different things when we’re up a lot and we can just push it, we can hold it if we want, and it’s just fun because we have so many more options when we’re up by a lot.”
Haverford School 15, Episcopal Academy 9
Episcopal Academy 0 0 3 6 – 9
Haverford School 3 3 7 2 – 15
Chris McCoun 1g
Charlie Cunniffe 2g, 1a
Rowan Brumbaugh 1g
Gabe Furey 2g
Nick Bates 2g
Declan McCarthy 1g
Jackson Tuma, 5-10 faceoffs, 1a
Matt Chess 10 saves
TJ Malone 6g, 4a
Scott Deck 1g, 2a
Luke O’Grady 3g, a
Adam Salvaggio 1g, 2a
Gavin Burke 1g, 1a
Peter Garno 2g
Mac Costin 1g
Harrison Fellheimer 9 saves
Chris Tsetsekos 10-18 faceoffs