By Karen Sangillo
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/9/21
Lightning struck, both literally and figuratively, at Avon Grove on Tuesday.
It struck all over the area, and the region, and on the field in the form of Kennett’s Sam Forte; and it couldn’t have been more dramatic or controversial.
With two seconds remaining in the second overtime, Forte threw the ball in from the 40-yardline on a restart, and after bouncing off a couple of Kennett players, it found the back of the net.
The goal lifted the Blue Demons (22-2) to an 11-10 double overtime victory over Garnet Valley in the semifinals of the PIAA Class 3A boys lacrosse tournament.
“I looked at the clock and saw two seconds, so I just threw it in there,” Forte said. “I’m pretty sure it deflected off Zach Hulme’s stick and Evan Hartmann’s shoe and went in.
“I wasn’t worried about the time. I saw the ball go in and I started celebrating. I knew we had it. You’ve got to give it a shot; you’ve got to try it. You never know unless you try.”
Kennett – in the PIAA tourney for the first time – will meet the winner of today’s rain-delayed Radnor/Conestoga game Saturday at West Chester East (4:30 p.m.) for the state title. Radnor leads, 7-4, with a half to play.
Garnet Valley (19-6) coach Frank Urso felt that the ball entered the cage after time had expired.
“I’ve never seen officiating so wimpy,” he said. “To walk off the field and not give an explanation in the state semifinals; they literally ran away and they made a bad call.”
The game hadn’t even started when both teams were sent to shelter for a lighting delay of 30 minutes. Before the 30 minutes were up, there was another delay. And then another. And then another.
There was total of 16 lightning delays, as the clock kept getting reset to 30 minutes after each new strike. The game finally got started at 6:20 p.m., three hours and 20 minutes after the scheduled start time of 3:00.
Once the game got going, everything went Kennett’s way. Hartmann, Bo Freebery and Forte netted the first three goals of the day before Max Busenkell put the Jaguars on the board.
After that Kennett extended the lead to 7-1 in the second quarter. Joey Halloran and Bishop Barnes closed the gap for Garnet, but Kennett still held a 7-3 lead at halftime.
Each team scored a pair of goals in the third quarter so entering the fourth, Kennent had a 9-5 lead.
The fourth quarter was where the Jaguars caught fire.
Barnes caught a rebound and sent it into the cage forty seconds into play and Busenkell followed up with a goal.
Collin Junge scored for Kennett to give the Demons some breathing room, but J.P. Demarco and Busenkell each netted goals to take the score to 10-9 in favor of Kennett.
With just 50 seconds remaining, Sean Gallagher scored for Garnet to force the extra frames.
It was the third meeting of the year between the two programs. Kennett won the regular season game, 15-7, and Garnet triumphed in the district semifinal, 12-10.
“This is the most special group I’ve ever been a part of,” Forte said. “it’s such a special team. We talked together back in March and I told everyone that I thought we were a state championship team so this goal has been in the back of our heads the whole time.”
Kennett 11, Garnet Valley 10, 2 OT
Garnet Valley 1 2 2 5 0 0 -10
Kennett 4 3 2 1 0 1 -11
Sam Forte 4G 1A Game winner in 2 OT
Bo Freebery 2G 2A
Jake Freebery 3A
Zach Hulme 2G 1A
Evan Hartman 2G
Collin Jung 1G
Jayson Astle 18 Saves
Max Busenkell 4g 2a
Bishop Barnes 2g
Joey Halloran 2g 1a
Sean Gallagher 1g
JP Demarco 1g
Ryan Nealon 2a
Luke Shoemaker 1a
Cory Urso 1a
Drew Keaveney 5 saves