by Tom Utescher
The boys lacrosse squad at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy wrapped up its series of early non-league matches last Friday, moving up out of a 1-1 tie to knock off host Shipley School, 10-3.
Four goals apiece from senior Clint Sanders and junior Tasso Karras helped the Blue Devils pump their record up to 7-0, while the team’s alternating goalies split time in the nets as usual. Three saves each were credited to junior Xander Pacilio (the starter on this occasion) and sophomore Matt Eccles (who played the second half).
SCH will now launch into its commanding Inter-Ac League schedule, starting out with Malvern Prep and Episcopal Academy this week, and then tackling national power Haverford School on April 16.
“We’ve been working real hard to become competitive,” remarked head coach Mike DelGrande, now in his fourth year with the Blue Devils. “It’s taken a few years, but we’re headed in the right direction. I’ve seen continued improvement in our stick skills and our lacrosse IQ. We’ve been playing much better defensively, and we’ve got two really good goalies.”
The team lost junior Sean Delaney to an injury suffered in an early scrimmage, and fellow defenseman John Henry, a senior, was temporarily out of action last Friday, but DelGrande was pleased with the way that juniors Tom Hogan and Kyle Lawlor and sophomores Nick Lawlor and James Oeth held the fort in front of Eccles and Pacilio. They limited Shipley to a single goal until the fourth quarter.
After killing a pair of penalties, SCH got on the board with 8:20 remaining in the opening period, when junior Jackson Kleintz sent a pass from out in the flat on the left side to scorer Forrest Rall (a senior) a few yards from the near post. With a little under two minutes left in the period, Shipley evened it up as Tate Gallagher dodged past several defenders on an assault down the left flank.
The Gators had killed a penalty shortly before they scored, and the Blue Devils ended the quarter in a man-down situation. After that, there were fewer men in the box and more balls in the goal, at least for SCH. Senior Evan Fireman opened the second-quarter scoring, and Karras chalked up his first goal four minutes before halftime to make it 3-1 at the break.
“We just started to play the way that we’ve worked on playing,” DelGrande explained. “We got a lot of ball movement on offense and had players moving well off the ball, and on defense we settled down and began to play together as a unit, instead of as individuals.”
A little over three minutes into the second half, the SCH offense really stepped on the gas. Even with a brief interruption to kill off a penalty, the Blue Devils poured in five goals in a six-minute span, three by Sanders and two by Karras. That set the score at 8-1 for the start of the fourth quarter, which began with the Gators finally registering their second goal of the game as two Blue Devils looked on from the penalty box.
Back at full strength, SCH netted two of the last three goals, as Karras and Sanders each scored for a fourth time. One of the busiest players for Shipley was goalie Ian Walsh, who accumulated a dozen saves.
Coach DelGrande knows that his players must try to smooth off all of the rough edges with Inter-Ac competition about to begin.
“We committed too many turnovers early in the game today, although that got a lot better later on,” he pointed out. “Our guys have to know that if we come out in a league game and throw the ball all over the place, those teams are going to make us pay for it.”