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Nail-biter! Lake Highland Nips St. Thomas Aquinas 12-11.

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
It doesn’t get any better than this. Two teams on the top of their game. Two goalies making great saves. Two offenses putting large percentages of shots on goal and making life miserable for those two goalies. Great passing to cutters; smart back door movement; relatively low turnover totals. This game had it all. Including a one goal margin where the lead went back and forth. What was the difference? What most of us call ‘old school’. In lacrosse, old school refers to the fundamentals; catching, passing, cradling, motion. Keep turnovers low, stay disciplined on defense and make the smart play. In the fourth quarter LHP played old school better than STA did. And LHP’s Lehigh-bound goalie Adam Sawicki made a save for the ages. Then junior Will Wolfson scored with 3:12 left in the game to give LHP the lead. After winning the last face-off, LHP was able to hold possession until the last 25 seconds of the game. Both accomplishments are old school. In a game so well played by both teams all game it was a few small things that decided the game. A poor pass, a dropped ball and the lack of a final deke on a breakaway caused STA a chance to win the game. Make no mistake, both teams played well enough to win. But this sport always guarantees one team will be disappointed at the end. STA led in the face-offs 17-10, but lost the only one they HAD to win. They also committed more turnovers, 16-11, but the numbers were only 8-7 in the second half, and 4-4 in the 4th. STA took 6 penalties to LHP’s 2, but it was only 2-1 in the second half. LHP played an efficient game, as those numbers indicate. They needed this win, having come into the game with 4 losses. They needed to know they could beat a southeastern team, as they had failed to beat Saint Andrews, Jupiter and Benjamin, all close games. STA needed to win a signature game too, as they are were in the middle of the meat of their schedule. Interestingly, I think both teams gained a lot from this game. I came away more impressed with STA after this game than after their Boca win. And LHP got their mojo back. Both teams should look forward to the rest of their seasons with more confidence. The game started with a back and forth flow. Each team shot 8 times, with STA putting 6 on goal and LHP putting 7 on goal. Fernando Milanes opened the scoring at 9:27 on a solo effort. Kyle Richbourg answered for LHP at 8:01. Griffin Melzer put STA back up 50 seconds later. In the last four minutes Devon Lewis (2G/3A) and Ryan Johnson (2G/1A) scored back-to-back to put LHP up 3-2 after one. Max Parker of LHP played STA’s star face-off man Joey Dorn to a standstill in the period. The second period started out with LHP looking to assert themselves. Johnson scored his second of the game at the 10:30 mark. JP Crowley answered for STA at 8:51. A minute and a half later Billy Roll scored off a Lewis back door feed to make it 5-3. Wolfson then potted his first on an EMO situation at 4:42 to push the lead to 6-3. LHP then won the next face-off and called time. Interestingly, it was STA who responded better after the time out. Three STA goals in a two-minute period sent the game to halftime at 6-6. Chris Giles unassisted, Luke Gonzalez of an RJ Curtin back door feed and Milanes with his second on a right alley dodge sent the home team into halftime with all the momentum. LHP showed true mettle by coming back with the first two goals of the third period. Clay Phillips scored twice; the first from Lewis at 9:54 and the second from Reid Thedford at 3:54, both on nice off-ball movement from Phillips. STA fought back to tie the game on two goals in 30 seconds late in the period. Kyle Mamane scored the first of his two off a Curtin feed to the crease and Melzer added his second. Dorn started to take control at the circle as he won 5 of 7 in the period. STA continued their comeback early in the fourth, on Mamane’s second goal of the half to take their first lead since 2-1. Jackson Bowen answered 25 seconds later unassisted to tie the game again. Curtin then scored a short-handed goal with 8:56 left, which would have been a backbreaker most nights. But this was not most nights. Lewis tied the game again just 25 seconds later on a Johnson feed right after the STA penalty ended. STA took the lead back at 5:35 on Melzer’s third of the game, 11-10. A poor pass led to LHP regaining possession and they made the most of it. Phillips finished off his hat trick on a feed from Connor Aniello to tie the game for the seventh and final time. LHP then won the next possession and called time out to set up a play. Wolfson was able to score unassisted at 3:12 to give LHP their first lead since 8-7. LHP then won the key face-off and was able to play keep away until the last 30 seconds when a double team led to a turnover and a quick STA timeout. Unfortunately for STA the possession began in the far corner from their goal. A quick double team by LHP’s forward players caused the play to be blown up and a desperation pass to the offensive end bounced harmlessly out of bounds. LHP then ran off the last ten seconds for the victory. In the end – an old school ending too. Those in attendance witnessed a game they won’t forget for quite awhile. Thank you to the teams and coaches for putting that one on! Final Stats: Face-offs: STA 17-10 Shots: STA 30 – LHP 32 SOG’s: STA 21 – LHP 21 – great shooting guys! Turnovers: STA 16 – LHP 11 STA took 6 penalties and LHP took 2 One interesting item in the game scoring: LHP had 7 of their 12 goals assisted, while STA only had 2 assists on their 11 goals. Maybe something for STA to work on? A lot of firepower that should look more for each other while dodging? STA was led by Melzer’s 3 goals, and two each from Milanes and Mamane. Curtin added 1G/2A, while Crowley, Giles and Gonzalez added 1 each. LHP was once again led by a dominating performance from Lewis (2G/3A – and pretty much was able to get off his shot at will – STA goalie Ben Tobin stoned him a couple of times early in the game), Phillips with 3G, Johnson 2G/1A and Wolfson 2G. Richbourg 1G/1A, Roll, and Bowen added goals, while Thedford and Aniello added assists. Both goalies were stellar; I don’t remember a bad goal being let in by either. STA returns to action on a neutral site Saturday when they play Milton (GA.) in an out-of-state game and LHP travels to Tampa Jesuit for a Thursday night encounter.