The Buchholz Bobcats and Oak Hall Eagles have formed quite a rivalry in the recent years. With the schools being less than five miles apart in the relatively small city of Gainesville, the kids know each other well and both teams have plenty of talent to make it interesting. There is no love lost between these teams.
This is the way the last three games between Oak Hall and Buchholz have gone… 2015 Regular Season: Buchholz wins 16-8 for their first ever win over the Eagles… 2015 District Championship: Oak Hall wins in overtime… 2016 Regular Season: Buchholz wins by one in a game that came down to the final possession. Like I said, there is no love lost between theses teams.
In 2016, just like last season, the Buchholz Bobcats took the regular season game only to fall in the district championship.
We’ll pick up the action at the beginning of the second half, when Buchholz held a 4-3 advantage behind 2 goals from Jacksonville commit and senior Finn Swanson. To start the third quarter, Oak Hall scored three straight goals. First one from Devon Blair and then two straight from Chris Anderson. Buchholz didn’t answer back until the 5:53 mark when Dawson Kizzar put one in the back of the net to make it 5-6 in favor of the Eagles.
To finish up the quarter, Oak Hall’s Alex Constantinidis scored on a long shot while sweeping across the top of the defense and Chris Anderson finished up his 3rd quarter hat-trick by burying one from the crease off a Constantinidis assist.
We entered the fourth quarter with the Eagles up 8-5. The beginning of the final frame was all Oak Hall. They continued their run by scoring the next three goals, stretching their lead to 11-5 with only 8:03 remaining. In this span, the Eagles controlled the pace and the momentum, while Buchholz struggled to even settle the ball on offense.
The Bobcats only savior was at the face-off X. Evan Vogel dominated; he won 19 out of 27 and it seemed like the only ones he lost were from his wingmen getting beat on the groundballs. Following a face-off win, Buchholz called a timeout. The ball restarted in Finn Swanson’s stick about ten yards up from GLE on the offensive box. Swanson doesn’t need much space to make good things happen and the mandatory five yards was all he needed in this instance. He took one step and ripped an underhand shot past the Oak Hall net-minder. Vogel won the ensuing face-off and Chase Vasques drove from the back corner to score his second of the night and cut the deficit to 4 with less than six minutes remaining.
After Vogel won yet another face-off, it was really starting to feeling like the momentum was starting to shift in the Bobcats’ favor. Buchholz had a long possession with several good looks at the cage missing just wide and being backed up by the offense. They even had an extra-man opportunity with 4:15 left on the clock but they just couldn’t convert. The long possession ended with Oak Hall’s Matthew Davis making a big save and sending the ball the other way in transition.
With 2:43 left, Phillip Yonge scored for the Eagles to make it 12-7, but that was not the dagger. Just 11 seconds later, following a Vogel face off win of course, Swanson got his fourth of the night to cut the lead back to 4.
Despite the short time, Buchholz felt very much alive at this point.
Buchholz got another chance at offense, but a turnover lead to an attempted clear by Oak Hall. Swanson made his presence felt again when he stripped the Eagle goalie of the ball and fired from long range to score his fifth goal of the night. It was 12-9
Despite there being only 2:14 left, I completely believed Buchholz could score the next three goals to take the game to overtime. Surprisingly, Oak Hall won the ensuing face-off (it felt like the first one in a long time) but the Bobcat defensive unit lead by Chandler Coons was able to force a turnover and successfully clear the ball. The crowd was alive and well.
After working its offense and a shot barely missing the goal, the proverbial dagger finally showed up in the Bobcat’s chest. With less than a minute remaining, Buchholz’s Swanson received a slashing penalty (while on offense, away from the ball). Man down for the remainder of the game and without their best player, the Bobcats’ comeback effort was stifled three goals short. 12-9 was the final.
The games top performers were Alex Constantinidis (3G, 4A), Chris Anderson (4G, 4GB), and Matthew Davis (9 saves) for Oak Hall plus Finn Swanson (5G, 8GB) and Evan Vogel (19 of 27 at face-off x) for Buchholz. Chandler Coons and Tanner Merritt also impressed from the long pole position for the Bobcats, as did both Alex Spiker and Thad Spiker for the Eagles.
Oak Hall head coach Jonathan Montes had quite the respect for the Bobcats following the game. He said “The key to this game was control. Control Finn Swanson. He’s a great player.” He also added that he has much respect for close defender Chandler Coons’s play, he said of the Air Force commit “I’m glad this is over with because I love watching Coons play and now I can root for him at the next level.” Classy words from a coach following a big rivalry game.
The Oak Hall Eagles will face the Bolles Bulldogs in Gainesville in the first round play-in game of the state playoffs on Friday April 15th.