Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/28/21 – Staff Report
The warning that Springfield-Delco got about Garnet Valley concerned how fast the Jaguars wanted to move on offense. Far from an abstract lesson, the 13 goals that the Jaguars blitzed them for in the regular season provided abundant proof.
So if the sixth-seeded Cougars wanted to pull off what the seedings would call an upset in the District 1 Class AAA final Thursday, they’d have to find a way to shut down host Garnet Valley’s quick-strike offense.
Enter Ryan O’Connor, and another trophy to the Cougars’ heaving cabinet.
Springfield held Garnet Valley’s potent attack to single goals in each of the first three quarters on the way to a 12-7 victory.
“We knew coming into this game that they’re a transition offense sort of team,” O’Connor, a Villanova commit and junior LSM, said. “We saw that in the first time we played them. They had at least eight transition goals. So that was our main game plan, to shut off their transition.”
It was effective in limiting a Jaguars attack that entered averaging 13.3 goals per contest to around half that. Garnet Valley, the fourth seed in the tournament, scored first in each quarter. But the combination of Springfield’s defense and its dominance at the faceoff X prevented the Jaguars (17-5) from parlaying those goals into momentum.
Springfield entered districts with three losses in the Central League; it’s avenged two of them back-to-back, against Radnor and Garnet Valley. And the reward is leaving the tournament with a third district title in the last six seasons.
The Cougars open PIAA play Tuesday against the third team it lost to in the league – Conestoga – while Garnet Valley will open against District 3 No. 4 Cumberland Valley.
In the first quarter, that meant Springfield replied to Colin Smith’s opener within 33 seconds, then rattled off four goals in one minute, 34 seconds. Jack Clark supplied three of those markers on the way to four goals and an assist on the night.
In the third, Max Busenkell’s first of three goals vied to give the Jaguars a spark. But Robbie O’Brien (three goals) got it right back for the Cougars, spurring another run of four unanswered goals to send the game into the fourth quarter with Springfield (17-5) comfortably ahead.
Again the Jaguars threatened to make it a game in the fourth, with Busenkell scoring, setting up Ryan Nealon and then Joey Halloran getting a man-up goal to slash the edge to 10-7. But O’Brien supplied his third goal of the game on a nubber that barely trickled over the goal line to blunt any momentum.
“We knew they were going to come in with a chip on their shoulder after defeating Radnor on Tuesday,” said Halloran, who scored twice and dished two assists. “We beat them earlier in the season by a few goals, so we knew they were going to come out chippy and ready to go.”
The defense was led by O’Connor, who caused turnovers left and right. Together with Jack Gerzabek, Franny Grady and Connor Roach, the Springfield defense limited Garnet Valley to just 17 shots. Ethan Johnson turned aside six of them, and a 16-for-22 day from Colin Hannigan at the X meant that the Cougars didn’t have to spend a ton of time defending.
“We always say play our best lacrosse by May, and obviously we’re playing our best lacrosse right now,” O’Connor said. “Huge win over Radnor, huge win over Garnet and it’s not individual wins. It’s team wins.”
“I cannot express how proud we are of the kids and the coaching staff,” said Springfield-Delco coach Tom Lemieux. “I love the coaching staff and the kids have so much heart.
“It’s not always about talent – it’s about fight and heart and I would rather stand in front of this group than any other group.”
District 1 AAA championship
Springfield-Delco 12, Garnet Valley 7
Springfield-D 4 1 4 3 – 12
Garnet Valley 1 1 1 4 – 7
Jack Clark 4g, 1a
Brett Gougler 1g, 2a
Robbie O’Brien 3g
Matt Ellison 1a
Colin Hannigan 1a, 16-for-22 faceoffs
Aidan Kreydt 1g
Jimmy Kennedy 1g
Matt Dickinson 2g
Ethan Johnson 6 saves
Max Busenkell 3g, a
Joey Halloran 2g, 2a
Colin Smith 1g
Ryan Nealon 1g
Bishop Barnes 1a
Cory Urso 1a
Drew Keaveney 4 saves
Griffin Umstead 2 saves