by Tom Utescher
Host Penn Charter entered last Wednesday’s boys’ lacrosse match with an Inter-Ac League record of 2-1, and the visiting Germantown Academy Patriots, who had already faced the top three teams in the league, arrived with an 0-3 mark.
Neither club wanted to fall too far behind the leaders, and after the first quarter of play on the Quakers’ Perrott Turf Field, the teams were tied at 1-1 and it looked like this might be a close battle all the way. The Penn Charter offense gathered momentum, slowly at first. After climbing to a 3-1 halftime lead, the Quakers erupted for four goals in the last six minutes of the third quarter, and emerged from the game with a 9-2 victory.
Senior Drew Murray recorded a hat trick for the winners and two goals apiece came from fellow upperclassman Dean Roseman and from sophomore Cody Sweeney. Senior Pierce Kraft and freshman Luke Stansfield rounded out the scoring for Charter (3-9 overall).
The actual play on the field was not as lopsided as the score might indicate. The shot totals weren’t far apart, with PC having a 26-20 edge, but Quakers goalkeeper Sean McKee (a sophomore) stepped up to make 10 saves against the Patriots.
GA (4-5 overall) received five saves in net from junior Ian Davies, and the Pats’ goals came from senior Max Derham and sophomore Jimmy McAfee.
Penn Charter spent the early weeks of the season taking on a number of challenging non-league opponents, many from outside the state.
As Quakers head coach Pat McDonough commented, “If I cared about our total win/loss record I’d have put together a very different schedule. The point of those early games is to prepare for the rigors of our league, which is very tough. Playing a light schedule just isn’t going to get you ready.”
Unfortunately, some injuries came along with that spate of challenging contests.
“Dean Roseman was hurt, and we only got him back earlier this month,” McDonough related, adding that sophomore Drew Gallant is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury. “Cody [Sweeney] has also had to work through some injuries, so I was happy to see him get involved in a lot of our goals today, whether it was initiating the dodges to help set up goals, or scoring himself. Drew Murray’s been there for us the whole season in terms of steady play, and he’s doing a good job this year in a leadership role.”
GA has been playing all along without a lynchpin player in the center of the field, since senior middie Ted Arsenault is out for the season.
The Patriots won the opening face-off last Wednesday and controlled the ball on attack for two minutes or so. Charter had its turn on offense, but had an early shot by Kraft trapped on the turf by GA’s Davies. At the other end, PC keeper McKee turned aside an attempt by Patriot freshman Brad Palmer.
The Quakers came up the field and penetrated into the attack zone on the left, getting on the scoreboard first on a shot by Roseman with 5:24 remaining in the first quarter. During a one-minute penalty on PC a little later, McKee kept his team ahead with a pair of saves, then the Quakers missed a chance to go up 2-0 when senior John Horan hit the crossbar of the visitors’ goal.
Still, Charter looked to take a 1-0 edge out of the first quarter, but GA brought the ball out of its defensive end and across the midfield line with eight seconds on the clock. Junior James Diver delivered the ball inside to Derham, who scored from close range just before the horn sounded.
PC spent somewhat more time on offense as the second period unfolded, and three minutes in, Sweeney assisted a strike by Murray to make it 2-1. The sophomore then netted an unassisted goal for a 3-1 Quakers lead at the half.
As GA head coach Brian Grady noted later, “I felt like the first quarter was a good one for us in terms of possession, handling the ball, and being organized on defense.
Unfortunately we didn’t continue to do some fundamental things such as picking up ground balls, simply handling the ball on the offensive end, and clearing the ball successfully as the game moved forward.”
Still, the Patriots were only two goals back at halftime.
PC’s McDonough said, “We talked about the fact that they were just one play away from this being a one-goal game. We came out in the second half and our guys on offense increased the lead, and on defense we played better than we have for a while. The defense was confident and aggressive, and they did a good job of transferring the ball up to the attack.”
GA had the chance to make it a one-goal affair when PC picked up an unnecessary roughness penalty three minutes into the third quarter, but the Pats couldn’t cash in as they turned the ball over out-of-bounds. Instead, Stansfield gave PC its fourth goal in the middle of the period, touching off a flurry of offensive activity for Charter.
Murray, Sweeney, and Roseman proceeded to bury the ball in the visitors’ cage, with the last marker in this string coming with 2:25 still to go in the third round. In only four minutes, the nature of the game had changed dramatically.
The Quakers did not slack off as the fourth quarter got underway, with Murray scoring in the opening minute off an assist from Horan.
GA came upfield on offense for a stretch, but its first shot, by Derham, hit a pipe. The Patriots stayed with it and with 7:05 left to play McAfee put in a quick-stick goal. Fellow sophomore Matt Ho passed the ball out from behind the cage to McAfee, who scored from a few feet off the right post.
That would be it for GA, though. The Quakers completed the game’s scoring with 2:46 remaining. Patriot keeper Davies made a very tough stop on a point-blank shot, but Kraft instantly seized the rebound and swung his stick around over his opposite shoulder to score the ninth goal for the home team.
At the other end, PC’s McKee had stopped half of the shots Germantown took for the afternoon, and other GA attempts were just a little off the mark. Some carelessness in ball-handling by the visitors, particularly in the second half, gave more time of possession to Penn Charter.
As the Patriots’ Grady pointed out, “When you give an opponent like PC more chances, they’ll cash in on them. We will have to get back to work in an effort to be more fundamentally sound and consistent for an entire game.”
In addition to Penn Charter getting its offense in sync as the game went along, Charter’s McDonough felt he got a solid effort on defense, including contributions from players such as senior Stephen Gottlieb and junior Christian Teuber (recently off the injured list) and Teuber’s 11th-grade classmates Rob Keefuss, Frank McGlinchey, and Pat McInerney.
“When they all play together, they can be a very good unit,” McDonough said. “The thing is, you need to do that day in and day out in our league, and we’re still working on developing that consistency.”