With Penn Charter’s Sawyer Smith (left) and Christian Teuber (center) hovering over him, Springside Chestnut Hill’s Zach Messerle (on ground) tries to keep the ball moving toward the goal, but Quakers keeper Sean McKee (right) scoops it up. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

With Penn Charter’s Sawyer Smith (left) and Christian Teuber (center) hovering over him, Springside Chestnut Hill’s Zach Messerle (on ground) tries to keep the ball moving toward the goal, but Quakers keeper Sean McKee (right) scoops it up. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

In last Thursday’s Inter-Ac League lacrosse rematch between Springside Chestnut Hill Academy and visiting Penn Charter, there was a paucity of points but a healthy dose of drama.

Following a 1-1 tie at halftime, the host Blue Devils edged ahead on sophomore Jack Lamb’s goal with five minutes remaining in regulation play. Just when it looked as though SCH could ride that slim 2-1 lead to victory, Quakers junior Drew Gallant scored his second goal of the day with 36 seconds to go. Lamb would also finish with two goals, though, and his second strike, with 64 seconds elapsed in sudden-death overtime, sealed a 3-2 win for the Devils.

Springside Chestnut Hill, which had received its first goal of the day from 10th-grader Brendan Clark, had been winless in the league just three days earlier. On Tuesday, the Devils (2-4) had claimed their first Inter-Ac victory in another overtime game, a higher-scoring affair involving Germantown Academy. Sophomore Malcolm Glendinning scored in OT to win it for SCH, 9-8.

After Thursday’s match, SCH and Penn Charter had mirror-image records overall, the Blue Devils at 8-6, and the Quakers, 6-8. In the first week of April, Charter (2-4 Inter-Ac) had successfully defended its home turf against its Chestnut Hill rival, winning 8-4.

Although high-scoring Drew Murray has moved on to Fairfield University, PC still has a number of offensive weapons to worry opponents. In the Charter-SCH rematch, the Blue Devils were unable to keep Gallant’s stick silent, but they were able to contain other threats, such as junior Cody Sweeney.

“We knew who we had to stop and we did a good job with our match-ups,” explained SCH head coach Mike DelGrande. “We had a short-stick lock on Cody Sweeney all day, in every situation. We’ve been working hard, and I think everybody bought into what we needed to do today.”

Good goaltending also helped hold the score down, along with some shooting that was just slightly off-the-mark. A little over a minute into the game, PC junior keeper Sean McKee denied SCH senior Mike Bown, recoding the first of his nine saves for the afternoon. Penn Charter went up on attack briefly, then the Blue Devils came back down the field and then had senior Chris Caldwell pivot toward the cage and send a shot into a teammate’s back.

With a little over seven minutes left in the opening period, the Quakers’ Gallant struck the SCH crossbar with a bounce shot. He would find the net two minutes later, driving in from out in the flat on the right side to sink a sharply-angled shot.

The Quakers dampened their own momentum with some penalties after that, but as the clock clicked away it looked as though their 1-0 lead would last until halftime. However, Clark got the Blue Devils on the board just 38 seconds before the horn, and it was 1-1 at the intermission.

A PC penalty overlapped into the third quarter, and even after the teams were even once more, Springside Chestnut Hill spent a lot of time in possession of the ball.

“We told our guys that we didn’t want to get into a run-and-gun game with them,” DelGrande related. “We also needed to limit our penalties and we did that; I think we only had two man-down’s the entire game.”

With under two minutes to go in the third frame, Lamb had a good look at the goal but Charter senior Christian Teuber got a stick on the sophomore’s shot. On a number of other attempts, the Devils didn’t vary the point of release and the intended destination of the shot, making it easy for a goalie like McKee to track the flight of the ball.

A few minutes into the fourth quarter, the PC keeper used a foot to deflect a ball launched by Caldwell, then stopped a shot by freshman Mac McLaughlin. A top-corner shot by Glendinning and a bouncer by Lamb both missed by inches, then senior Mac McHugh fired the ball right into McKee’s body with around seven-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Charter finally broke the siege and went up on attack for a spell, but the Blue Devils were soon back on the offensive.

From high on the left, Caldwell passed the ball laterally to Lamb at the top of the offensive set, and he drilled it straight through the middle to put the Devils up 2-1 with 4:59 left to play.

Calling a time-out, the Quakers returned to the field and quickly turned the ball over. When they got it back with a little over two minutes to go, sophomore Dylan Schwartz drove from the right but had his shot spurned by SCH’s Eckles, who would finish with eight saves. Charter eventually called another time-out, this one with 47 seconds to go.

When play resumed, PC spread out on offense and Gallant navigated to goal from high out on the left side. The Devils were unable to close a double-team on him, and he beat several defenders one-on-one to score the visitors’ tying goal with 36 seconds left. After that, Springside Chestnut Hill was actually saved from a heartbreaking defeat by Eckles, who saved a shot by Sweeney in the final seconds of regulation.

Four minutes were put on the clock for the overtime session, but most of it wouldn’t be needed. Controlling the ball, the Devils moved up on attack and appeared to set up a play.

“It was drawn up a lot differently than how it happened,” DelGrande revealed afterward. “Initially, Mike Bown was supposed to get the shot, but he didn’t have it so he was smart and he settled it. Then Jack made a great cut and it was a good look to him, and he finished it.”

Although it was a blustery and cold day for late April, a large home crowd was on hand for the game, and when the winning goal was confirmed, they rushed the field to join their team’s celebration.