by Tom Utescher
A boys lacrosse game played at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s football stadium last Friday attracted a large crowd, and as the first half wound down the host Blue Devils only trailed 3-2 against the visiting Patriots of Germantown Academy.
Then, thanks in part to an unreleasable penalty against SCH, GA rang up five goals in the final three minutes before halftime. The streak continued as the Patriots deposited the first two markers of the third quarter. That put them up 10-2, and the Devils never really got back in the game as the visitors proceeded to a 14-6 victory.
Reid Weber, a senior headed for Lehigh University, filled the nets with eight goals to lead Germantown, which also received two goals and four assists from Connor Crump (Amherst College), and one goal and five assists from a third senior, Billy Oppenheimer (Quinnipiac University).
Yet another upperclassman, Gettysburg-bound goalkeeper Jake Adoni, accumulated a dozen saves.
The Patriots pushed their overall record into winning territory at 9-8, and remained 2-5 in the official Inter-Ac League standings. SCH is not playing a full league schedule, facing GA and Episcopal Academy twice, while playing each of the other teams once.
After Friday’s tilt, the Devils were 0-6 against Inter-Ac competition and 9-8 overall. Junior Forrest Rall scored twice for the hosts and sophomore Jackson Kleintz connected once, with each player adding an assist. There were single goals for junior Evan Fireman, sophomore Tasso Karras, and freshman Michael Bown, while in the goal starting junior Ian Caplan made 11 saves and sophomore back-up Xander Pacilio had two.
“Ian played a great game,” commented SCH skipper Mike DelGrande. “In the first half he was the one keeping us in it, because our defense did not play particularly well. Offensively, we did some things well, but just not enough.
“The way we played today is not indicative of what we’ve been doing up to this point in the season,” he went on. “When we played GA the first time, we were up by one at the half and tied at the end of three.”
GA prevailed in that encounter, 9-5, and the Patriots were very glad of the win, coming into the contest three games under the .500 mark.
Asked about the team’s early-season struggles, head coach Dave Martin explained, “It was a combination of everybody needing to get used to each other, and our playing a very tough schedule. We’ve won four games in a row now, and five of our last six.”
Last Friday, SCH seized the opening draw and enjoyed a lot of ball possession over the first eight minutes of the game. The Blue Devils also scored first, with Karras firing the icebreaker off a feed from Kleintz with three minutes and 13 seconds elapsed. GA’s Oppenheimer hit the right post of the SCH cage two minutes later, then Crump found the back of the Blue Devils’ net with 4:10 to go in the first quarter.
The Patriots moved ahead 2-1, but SCH’s Caplan prevented further damage with two tough saves in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the opening frame. That tally held up for over eight minutes in the second stanza, but then seven points piled onto the scoreboard before the intermission. Two Patriots markers were sandwiched around a goal by the Devils’ Kleintz to make it 4-2 with under three minutes to go.
Next, the home team’s fortunes took a sharp downturn. Junior Ricky Bozzelli scored for GA with 2:46 remaining, while the Devils picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the same time. Before Springside Chestnut Hill got back to even strength on the field, GA’s Weber whipped in three goals, all assisted by Crump. That set the visitors up with an 8-2 lead at halftime, when they owned an 18-8 advantage in the shot column.
“Obviously, that penalty really cost us, and it was the turning point in the game,” remarked the Devils’ DelGrande. “They scored on the play that resulted in the penalty, then they scored three more during the penalty. Instead of it being 4-2 and us maybe getting another goal and making it close at the half, the game completely left us at that point.”
Referring to the Pats’ scoring flurry, GA’s Martin noted “We do have the offense that’s capable of scoring in spurts like that, and we won a bunch of face-offs, which also helps. You always want to score when the other team’s in a man-down situation, and we did that.”
After Martin’s team went up 10-2 over the initial two minutes of the third quarter, SCH rallied for a spell, collecting three of the next four points. Rall struck twice and Fireman added a goal for the Devils, but then their mini-comeback ran out of steam. Coming around the cage on the left and firing from a sharp angle, Germantown senior Drew Gill made it 12-5 with 38 seconds left in the third round.
SCH was unable to capitalize on a Patriot penalty early in the final period, and Germantown went up 14-5 before the hosts’ Bown scored the final goal of the day.
GA’s attackmen were prolific, and Martin also had praise for his defensive unit.
“We have a very strong goalie, Jake Adoni, and he’s a third-year starter who’s basically playing with a brand new defense. Brad Garcia is a junior, Hayes Nolte is a sophomore, and Sam Lehrman is a freshman, and they’ve improved tremendously over the course of the season.”
The temperature soared to 80 degrees on Friday, and when the SCH stadium field is set up for lacrosse, there’s no shade near the team benches.
Martin said, “Typically I’m only using about 15 guys and on a hot day like today it’s hard, but they summoned up the energy to just keep on going.”
“We’ve had much better results than this,” SCH’s DelGrande summed up, “but in those games we were out there really competing, and we weren’t today. GA took advantage of their opportunities and they moved the ball very well. Their transition game was excellent.
“We’ve got Penn Charter coming up [the last regular-season Inter-Ac opponent], then Princeton Day School and the Inter-Ac Invitational,” he went on. “I know our guys don’t want to come out of those games feeling the way they do today.”