by Tom Utescher
The three Inter-Ac League boys lacrosse squads on this side of the Schuylkill have found rough going against the trio of teams on the Main Line this spring, and that made last Saturday’s rematch between host Penn Charter and the Blue Devils of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy all the more important.
On April 18 SCH had claimed the first win over an Inter-Ac rival in school history by beating Germantown Academy, and the Devils turned around and knocked off Penn Charter five days later, 7-6. At their Senior Day game last Saturday, the PC Quakers avenged that loss, breaking free from a 4-4 deadlock in the middle of the second quarter and going on to win by a score of 15-8.
It would’ve been pointless for the Blue Devils to focus their defensive efforts on just a handful of Charter attackers, since 10 different players found the net for the home team.
There were two goals apiece for seniors Eric Berger, Kevin Murphy, and Ray Vandegrift and juniors Drew Murray and Dean Roseman, with single markers added by seniors Charles Giunta and Brandon White, juniors Nick Bambino and Pierce Kraft, and sophomore James Vandegrift.
The Quakers only narrowly outshot SCH, 30-27, but their freshman goalkeeper, Sean McKee, came up with 14 saves for the afternoon.
Penn Charter, which has one regular-season Inter-Ac contest against Episcopal Academy remaining on the schedule, improved to 3-6 against league schools and 11-11 overall.
The other two league wins for the Quakers came against Germantown Academy, whose last chance to top an Inter-Ac school comes this week, in a home match against Springside Chestnut Hill.
SCH is not yet a full-fledged member of the league in boys lacrosse; the team is playing only one game this spring against Haverford School and Malvern Prep instead of the customary home/away series. After Saturday’s encounter the Devils had a 2-5 record against member schools, and were 12-5 against all opponents.
Senior Evan Fireman scored a hat trick against PC last weekend, with classmates Forrest Rall and Clint Sanders each adding a pair of points while the other goal originated with junior Jackson Kleintz. In goal, junior Xander Pacilio started and made six saves, and sophomore Matt Eckles played the second half and had three stops.
When SCH and PC first met back on April 23, Charter head coach Pat McDonough related, “They really came to play, a lot more than we did. They took it to us; they were athletic and they beat us on ground balls. I also think we held onto the ball too much, so one of the things we worked on this week was ball movement, sharing the ball.”
On Saturday, after a brief period of possession by the visitors, Charter applied pressure at the other end, but the Devils’ Pacilio repulsed shots by Berger and James Vandegrift. SCH was first on the board, as Fireman drilled an outside shot with 7:39 remaining in the first quarter, and down around the four-minute mark Murray fired the icebreaker for the Quakers.
After that, the score seesawed up to 3-3 by the end of the period, and 4-4 two minutes into the second quarter. With goals now flowing freely, it seemed like the first team to step up and made some defensive stops would have an opportunity to take control.
That turned out to be PC, which limited its guests to one goal in the last 10 minutes of the first half, while scoring three times to gain an 8-5 foothold by the time the intermission arrived.
Fireman put the Blue Devils in a position to make a run at the lead as he initiated the scoring in the second half to make it a two-goal game. However, Charter responded with authority, ringing up six of the seven goals scored in the remainder of the period. The ball movement desired by McDonough was in evidence, as the Quakers whipped the ball around the perimeter while looking for chances to penetrate.
In the second quarter, PC had scored its final goal with just two seconds on the clock, and here the hosts found the net with three ticks remaining, taking a 14-7 advantage into the fourth quarter.
At the other end of the pitch, the Charter defense would keep potent SCH attacker Tasso Karras off the scoreboard. He had scored twice on the Quakers the first time around.
“We wanted to be aware of where he was, and try to take away what he wanted to do and force him to feed the ball instead of shooting,” Coach McDonough said. “We just talked in general about being a better team defensively this time.”
Among the seniors recognized on Saturday are five athletes who plan to continue their lacrosse careers in college. White has not yet made his final decision, while Berger and Murphy will play at Monmouth, and Giunta and Ray Vandegrift will join the program at St. Joseph’s University.