by Tom Utescher
In each of its last two lacrosse games against Inter-Ac League rivals, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy trailed 2-3 at one point during the second quarter.
Two Fridays ago in the first of those matches, a costly penalty helped lead to the collapse of the SCH Blue Devils, who saw Germantown Academy score seven straight goals and go on to win, 14-6. Last Tuesday’s tilt at Penn Charter would also end in defeat for SCH, but the Devils would play much better and would stay in contention a lot longer.
From their 2-3 shortfall at PC, the visitors bounced back to take a 4-3 lead before Charter rallied for a 6-4 halftime advantage. Early in the fourth quarter, the Devils were just one point back at 6-7, then the Quakers finished with a flourish, sinking five of the last six goals in the game for a 13-8 win.
Senior Shane Carr, who’s heading to Yale, peppered the stat sheet with seven goals and an assist, and sophomore Drew Murray had five goals and an assist for the winners, while junior Kevin Murphy rounded out the goal-scoring. Senior Tyler Earley set up two of the Quakers’ goals, and single assists were credited to sophomores Nick Bambino and Dean Roseman and senior John Moderski.
Moderski has committed to Villanova and classmate Tom Monzo, who handled face-off duties for PC, signed with Stony Brook University last fall. Jackson Tamasitis, credited with nine saves in goal last Tuesday, will attend the U.S. Military Academy.
Talented Charter attackman Ray Vandegrift has missed his junior season due to injury, and his loss definitely affected the Quakers.
“We’re not a very deep team,” explained PC coach Pat McDonough after the SCH game. “We had [junior] Eric Berger out sick today, and we lose that one midfielder and it makes a difference; we’re a fragile team like that. Other guys stepped up, but there are still too many mistakes that we have to fix.”
Tuesday’s victory raised the Quakers’ overall record to 11-11, and they remained at 2-6 in the Inter-Ac League since SCH is not officially a championship contender. PC split its home/away series against GA and Episcopal, and lost one-goal games to Malvern Prep and league champion Haverford School. The Friars and Fords enjoyed larger margins in their other wins over the Quakers.
Springside Chestnut Hill played the regulation home-away set against GA and Episcopal while facing the other league teams once. The youngest of the Inter-Ac lacrosse programs, the Blue Devils went 0-7 against league teams, but strong showings against non-league opponents allowed them to come away from Tuesday’s loss with an overall mark of 9-9.
Most of SCH’s impact players are still underclassmen. Sophomore Tasso Karras had a scoring hat trick at Penn Charter along with one assist, and juniors Forrest Rall and Clint Sanders deposited two goals apiece. The Devils received one goal from Justin Bender and one assist from Evan Fireman, both juniors.
Yet another 11th-grader, Ian Caplan, played the first half in goal and made four saves. Following the intermission, freshman Matt Eckles stepped into the cage, finishing the game with six stops.
After Murray’s opening strike for Penn Charter was matched by a transition goal by SCH’s Rall, the Quakers had possession in the late minutes of the first quarter, but the Devils’ defense held firm. Murray’s second marker moved the hosts ahead again early in the second round, then a PC penalty helped set up a tying goal by Karras of Springside Chestnut Hill.
Charter’s Carr responded in the same minute, and the Quakers would’ve gone up 4-2 on a point-blank shot if not for a tough save by Caplan. Instead, the Devils’ Karras and Sanders scored back-to-back goals in a 25-second span to make it 4-3, SCH, with 7:31 remaining in the first half. This would prove to be the only time that the Devils held the lead in the encounter. After the visitors captured the following face-off, Charter called time-out at the next opportunity.
“They were fighting hard, and we were turning the ball over too much,” McDonough said.
PC’s turnaround began literally by accident. Light rain had been falling on Charter’s artificial turf field, and while handling the ball, an SCH player slipped down and lost possession. The Quakers recovered the nugget and dashed right down the field for a tying goal by Carr. The senior struck again off of a feed from behind the cage by Earley, then 13 seconds before halftime Murray found the net from a difficult angle out on the left, making it 6-4.
Seizing the second-half draw, SCH’s Rall went all the way in to stick a shot in the upper right corner, and soon after that the Devils successfully killed off a 30-second penalty.
With the visitors back at full strength, Eckles, the newly-entered SCH goalie marched up field field with ball on a clear. Finding little resistance, he stepped right through the midfield and then took a shot at the Charter goal. The ball missed, PC recovered the rebound, and before Eckles could get back down into his own cage, the Quakers pushed the ball ahead to Murray for an open-net goal that made it 7-5.
The teams traded goals to make it 8-6 at the three-quarter mark, then Sanders stuck an outside shot from the left in the opening minute of the fourth round. Two minutes later Charter was back up by a pair when a pass from the top of the offense set up a short shot by Carr in front of the cage. The Blue Devils went up on the attack, but a careless pass was picked off by the Quakers’ Moderski. He transported the ball through the midfield and delivered it to Carr, who gave the hosts a 10-7 lead.
SCH grabbed the next face-off and scored quickly, with Karras assisting a marker by Bender that got the Devils back within two with 7:59 remaining in the game. The visitors would not be able to score again, though.
After SCH killed a 30-second penalty, Karras came around the goal on the right and tried to stuff the ball in on the near side, but he was denied by Tamasitis. Later, the Quakers gave themselves some breathing room with back-to-back strikes in a 14-second span. Murray fed from behind to Murphy for the first score, then Monzo got the face-off and charged down to fire at the SCH cage. His shot was blocked, but Carr scooped up the rebound and scored for a 12-8 tally with 3:36 to go.
Frustrated SCH committed two penalties simultaneously with 0:33 on the clock, and with 11 seconds left PC’s Bambino assisted on a Murray shot that clanged in off the inside of the top right corner of the goal frame.
Charter finished with a comfortable lead, but the Quakers had to work for it against the improving Blue Devils.
“They played well,” said PC’s McDonough, “and hopefully they’ll be playing a full schedule next year in the league.”