by Tom Utescher
When visiting Springside Chestnut Hill Academy quickly took a 3-0 lead in last Tuesday’s Inter-Ac lacrosse match at Germantown Academy, it looked like the Blue Devils were on their way of a season sweep of the Patriots.
After that, though, the Pats regrouped, tied the game 5-5 by halftime, and proceeded to pull out a 9-8 victory.
For a rebuilding GA franchise, it was the first win in nine starts against Inter-Ac opponents, and it balanced out a loss at Springside Chestnut Hill back on April 18.
That win in the middle of last month was the first ever in the league for the Blue Devils, who went on to achieve a season split against Penn Charter. SCH, which plays Haverford and Malvern once and the other three
Inter-Ac opponents twice, finished out its league schedule at 2-6.
Asked how he prepared his charges for Springside Chestnut Hill the second time around, first-year GA head coach Brian Grady said “We knew who their threats were, but we really wanted to focus more on our own game. We wanted to put together four quarters of good lacrosse.”
Junior Max Derham (one assist) and freshman Matt Ho each scored twice for the winners, while the SCH offense was paced by a hat trick from senior Evan Fireman. In the goal, the Blue Devils split time, as usual, between two keepers. Sophomore Matt Eccles started and made three stops, and junior Xander Pacilio took over for the second half, logging four saves.
A total of 10 saves were recorded for GA sophomore Ian Davies, who always shoulders the entire load for the Patriots.
“It’s really been all on him,” Coach Grady pointed out. “Every minute in every game, all the drills in practice, he’s the one in there getting shot at without a break.”
Davies came under fire early from SCH last Tuesday, when the Blue Devils’ Fireman, Tasso Karras, and Clint Sanders gave the visitors a 3-0 lead in the initial five minutes. The Patriots steadied themselves during a time-out and then got on the board thanks to senior defender Pat Sawyer, who penetrated toward the right post and scored with 7:27 still to play in the first quarter.
Soon after that Fireman found the net from the top of the offense off of a pass from Karras, but by the end of the period GA was back within one, 4-3. First, Ho converted off the rebound of a shot by Derham, then senior Alex Zaharchuck scored with an assist from sophomore Garrett Trucksess.
SCH won the face-off that started the second quarter, and just 40 seconds in, Fireman whipped the ball precisely into the upper left corner of the goal after pocketing a pass from junior Jackson Kleintz. Off of the next restart in the center GA gained control of the ball and romped downfield. The ball carrier, senior Ricky Bozzelli (who had been out with an injury for the first GA-SCH clash), delivered it to Derham, who made it 5-4 with the third quarter still in the opening minute.
After that, four penalties slowed the scoring pace, but with the clock down to 1:18, Bozzelli earned another assist as sophomore James Diver scored from in front of the cage. The 5-5 count held up until halftime.
In the third round, Germantown gained the lead for the first time, then reinforced it for a 7-5 advantage. On each of these Patriot goals – by junior Ted Arsenault and by Derham – the Blue Devils made it harder on themselves by committing a penalty on the scoring play, making it more difficult to respond quickly to the strikes by GA.
As the clock got down near two minutes, SCH was nailed for a third violation, but after this 30-second sentence was up the Blue Devils found the net for the first time in 21 minutes. Sanders brought the ball down from midfield, surveyed the situation, then kept on going toward the goal and scored with 1:34 remaining, making it 7-6, GA.
The Patriots were still able to take a two-goal edge into the final period, though, as Bozzelli advanced from the left flank and fought past several Devils defenders. His shot went in with just 3.4 seconds up on the board.
The fourth quarter was still in its infancy when the visitors were back within a single point once more. Senior Peter Nicolo trotted in from the right wing, changed pace, and put a shot into the left side of the goal about shoulder high. Soon after that, GA goalie Davies denied the Devils on a shot that might have tied the game, making a strong save on an attempt by an unmarked Sanders.
SCH once again hampered its own efforts with several penalties in the middle of the period, then the Patriots went up 9-7 with 5:41 to go. It was Ho who had the eventual game winner, cutting from the middle toward the right post and scoring off a feed from Trucksess.
After a series of infractions by Springside Chestnut Hill, the officials’ whistles blew in GA’s direction, and a one-minute penalty led to the final goal of the day, scored by the Blue Devils in man-up mode. Sanders came down the left wing with the ball, veered in toward the cage, and then passed to the scorer Karras, who had made a cut to the right post. The count was now 9-8 with 3:29 to go.
The visitors looked to tie the match on another shot by Karras, but the attempt was repulsed by the Patriots’ Davies. At the other end, a potential insurance goal for the leaders never materialized as Pacilio foiled the hosts’ Ho.
GA’s one-goal advantage held up until the end, as SCH once more became bogged down with penalties.
Grady, the Germantown mentor, was pleased to see goals coming from seven different Patriot players during the contest.
He noted, “We’re generating more offense than we did earlier on this season, and it’s making a difference.”