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#18 American Heritage-Boca Slips By #25 Pine Crest 13-12 in OT Thriller

Author’s Note:  I stayed after the game to tweet out the AH-B Girls’ team one-goal loss to Bishop Ireton.  AH-B came into the game ranked #4 in the latest IL Women National Poll (LINK) and Bishop Ireton was ranked #17.  The game was very intensely contested and Bishop Ireton was able to hang on to a one-goal lead by running out the final 3 minutes after Heritage came back strongly from a 6-goal deficit in the second half.  I was glad to see th AH Boys team stay for at least a half (some stayed all game) and the crowd was treated to a heck of a contest.
  There are one goal games that kind of grind to a halt and end quietly and there are one goal games that rise to a crescendo and finally end with fireworks and last night’s game was certainly the latter. Individual efforts galore.  Even maybe a little too much.  25 goals and only 10 assists.  A few times open players on the crease were passed up for shots. Both goalies were busy.  24 saves on 49 shots on goal.  Not a lot of them were easy. An unfortunate injury to PC star middie Hutch Torregrosa on the opening faceoff took away his contribution and we all hope he is alright. The Team Statistics were very close on all categories and both teams deserve their Top 25 rankings.  I had seen AH-B a few times but this was my first look at Pine Crest and they were exactly what I expected from a George Harris team, smart and playing together.  That disciplined approach faded a little in the fourth as fatigue set in but they did dig down and come back late in the game, three times tying the game up in the fourth after AH-B took the lead. Pine Crest seems to be the favorite going in to their District playoff against Stoneman, after giving SD their first loss of the season.  That would put them on the path to facing STA in round one.  If healthy it could be interesting.  AH-B will face a rematch in the District with SJP II, a team they handled easily the first time around, but a team that has shown an amazing tendency towards volatility in their game results . . . that could also be a great rematch, and if successful, will likely face SA again. So many variables this year. Heck, just look at last night’s games around the state . . . this week’s Top 25 will reflect the car wreck of last night.     PC took the lead at 8:23 of the first, on EMO, as Jordan Eskenazi took the Josh Lehrman feed up top for the step down to the low right corner.  AH-B’s long pole, Eric Diano, got that back at 4:59 as he took possession at the halfway line, went right down the middle, face dodged and fired from 10 yards between the legs of Robert Fatovic.  PC then went on a three goal run in the last two minutes to make it 4-1 after the first.  Lehrman curled from the right side and hit the low short side at 1:47.  Then with 56 seconds left it was Colin Servoss taking the low right wing feed from Matthew Yellin as he cut to the crease for the easy finish, drawing the penalty.  That penalty was converted as Eskenazi took the Paul Krigger feed in the middle from up top for the low right hand shot with 22 seconds left to end it at 4-1. AH-B’s Tyler Yarnall made it 4-2 at 7:40, taking advantage of the fast break off the turnover, face dodging down the middle and scoring in close.  Torregrosa then made a brief appearance, winning the next faceoff forward and converting the break down the middle just 7 seconds later, but that was it for him and I don’t remember him playing the rest of the game.  Eskenazi then gave PC their biggest lead at 5:04 as he walked in from up top for the ripped bounce shot that made it 6-2.  AH-B closed it to three at 3:52 as Colin Sypek went down the left alley for the left hand shot to the top right corner.  Just 26 seconds later it was again a four goal lead as Jake Rosen cut down the middle and took Lehrman’s far right corner feed for the low shot.  Yarnall then got it back on the ensuing faceoff, popping forward and splitting two defenders for the low shot 9 seconds later and with 39 seconds left in the half AH-B made it 7-5 as Dylan Barry and Emmett Wexler took advantage of a 3 on 2, started after a big save by Cole Loyd-Jones, with Barry potting the left crease pass from Wexler on the right crease, and that’s how the half ended. The teams traded four goals in the third to make it PC 9-7 after the third.  Barry at 9:04, taking advantage of a turnover near midfield and beating his defender to the goal for 7-6, then Servoss taking the crease feed from Jeremy Oletsky at 4:35, scoring all alone in front.  Yarnall running down the right alley at 2:25 for 8-7 and Servoss converting a rebound in front with 4 seconds left to end the quarter. And it only got more intense. AH-B pulling within one on the Ryan Cohen tally, using a left alley dodge and bounce shot for 9-8.  Sypek then tied it up at 8:25 as he took a lengthy Yarnall pass following a turnover.  AH-B then grabbed their first lead of the game at 6:15 as Sypek went behind and worked to left GLE before spin dodging to the front for the high shot to make it 10-9.  Eskenazi tied it up less than a minute later as he dodged into the middle from up top for the low right hand shot.  But only 18 seconds later H-B’s Barry turned the ball over while riding the PC defense and he got to the low left alley before hitting the short side for 11-10. Eskenazi again tied it up with 2:01 left, on the EMO, as he gained possession of a rebound up top before firing to the low right side from distance.  But just 11 seconds later it was Sypek sweeping in off the wing on the faceoff and working a give and go with Wexler, finishing off near the crease for the 12-11 lead.  Of course, that wasn’t going to stand in this one, and Nick Pagano took the Yellin feed from right behind up top and his step down hit the top right corner with 27 seconds left to send us to overtime. AH-B won the possession off the faceoff and the PC defender knocked him down from behind, setting up an EMO early in the OT.  Barry ended the excitement as Cohen worked from right GLE up the right side and found Yarnall cutting down the alley.  Yarnall took the feed and hit the top short side just 29 seconds into the OT for the game winner. Thanks kids, for leaving it all out there and giving us a heck of a game. Pine Crest is back in action today, hosting Ransom Everglades while AH-B defeated WT Dwyer last night.   Team Statistics   Faceoffs:  14 each Shots:  PC  42-34 Shots on Goal:  PC 26-23 Turnovers:  18 each Penalties:  AH-B  5-1   Individual Statistics   AH-B Tyler Yarnall  4g/1A Colin Sypek  4G Dylan Barry  3G Ryan Cohen  1G/1A Eric Diano  1G Emmett Wexler  2A Cole Loyd-Jones with 14 saves   PC Jordan Eskenazi  5G Colin Servoss  3G Josh Lehrman  1G/2A Hutch Torregrosa, Jake Rosen and Nick Pagano with 1G each Matthew Yellin  2A Jeremy Oletsky and Paul Krigger with 1A ech Robert Fatovic with 10 saves   Thanks to Coach Barry and Coach Harris for talking to me before and after the game