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SA Rallies to Stem Boca Upset Bid 12-9

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
  The heart of a champion Sometimes that phrase gets thrown around a little too easily.  On Thursday night that moniker was earned, and earned under the most pressure-filled way.  Boca came to play and play they did.  After Connor Collins scored his second goal in 35 seconds those who looked up at the scoreboard were either stunned or exhilarated.  Even Boca’s mascot got into the festivities of being a Bobcat fan at that moment.  With a little over six minutes left in the game Boca Raton had snatched a 9-7 lead and was playing with all of the confidence in the world.  And they should have been confident.  They were going toe-to-toe with the 800-lb. gorilla of Florida lacrosse, on their field, and were on the verge of taking control. And somewhere deep down in the glorious history that is Saint Andrew’s lacrosse there were the ghosts of comebacks past.  And this one was one heck of a fairy tale.  Somehow, the stars reached down and found the next gear that had eluded them most of the game. Mahler to Levine; Levine to Whipple.  Wheeler picks up a loose ball.  Levine to Whipple and then Mahler dodging three defenders.  All in 4 minutes and 22 seconds of glorious play.  The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse strike and send the dagger into Boca’s dream of finally taking down their District foe.  All of the years of having to go through the Scots with no success was finally sitting there, ready to be taken.  And the lion roared and said ‘not this time’.  Make no mistake; this game was not lost by Boca, it was won by a mostly-senior group of talent that all Florida lacrosse fans will miss watching next year. The heart of a champion SA Boca District Final 2013 193_opt Boca played a fantastic lacrosse game.  Patient.  Tenacious.  Nick Martin set the tone with two doorstop saves in the first six minutes, stoning SA’s attack one-on-one.  Gone was the wild long distance shooting; in was an appreciation for controlling the ball.  And it worked.  Nick Schultz opened the scoring at the 9:59 mark by shoveling a loose ball into the net off a deflected pass for a 1-0 Boca lead.  Nick McCabe then scored twice in a little over a minute, both unassisted.  The first on an EMO bullet from 12 yards out and the second on a right alley dodge to make it 3-0.  Cue Act One of the fairy tale. Stephen Reall, who played a monster game to keep SA in it until the late fireworks, scored off a crease feed from Connor Whipple on the EMO to cut the lead to 3-1 at the 1:39 mark.  With 10 seconds left in the period Grant Mahler took Reall’s cross-crease feed to cut the lead to one.  Corey Etcheverry made two key saves in the last minute of the period to allow SA to stay close. After a defensive struggle in the second, led by sterling play by both goalies and clamp-down defense by both sides, Whipple broke through with 3:47 left on a Ben Kennedy feed that bounced past Martin.  At this point it was starting to look like so many SA games in the past; slow start and then turn it on to pull away.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum.  Over a span of 14 minutes between the second and third periods Boca held SA scoreless.  And Boca basically reversed roles by scoring twice in the last minute of the half to take a 5-3 lead.  Schultz scored both goals on feeds from Ryan Clinton. The first came on a delayed penalty call as a short feed from Clinton found Schultz cutting down the middle.  Two penalties were called on SA after the goal and Boca was able to capitalize on pretty much the same offensive scheme as Clinton fed Schultz from the left wing and Schultz buried it to send Boca to the locker room on a surge of momentum. The second half started off the same way.  Boca’s terrific long pole, Harrison Rodormer (coaches, PLEASE remember him next year when you discuss the All Americans) went half the length of the field and buried a 10-yard rocket to stretch the lead back to three at 10:20.  Less than a minute later Schultz dodged two defenders to stick in his fourth at the 9:25 mark.  Four goals in less than four minutes of playing time and incredibly Boca led 7-3.  About a month ago, when these two teams played, SA comfortably won 11-2 so this was quite the turnaround. Cue Act Two of the fairy tale. With 4:22 left in the third Reall and Whipple combined for the second time on an EMO, with Whipple finding Reall alone on the right side of the cage.  Just 33 seconds later they switched roles with Reall feeding Whipple from behind the cage to cut the lead in half at 7-5.  In the last minute Boca took two penalties and SA capitalized, with Whipple again feeding Reall for the third goal of the run to send the teams to the fourth with Boca leading 7-6. The game was tied only 6 seconds into the fourth.  Mahler popped the face-off forward, scooped it up, went straight down the middle and beat Martin clean to tie it at 7.  And again, it was starting to look like so many SA games. But not this time. Collins took Brad Singer’s cross-field feed, again on a delayed penalty, and fired home a bullet from the left wing at the 6:55 mark and then followed it just 36 seconds later by scooping up a rebound and slipping it past Etcheverry to set the final fireworks. Cue Act Three And the rest was history. Heart of the champion SA Boca District Final 2013 822_opt The term ‘reality television’ has become quite popular the last decade or so.  But the phony, edited drama of a ‘Survivor’ or other of its’ ilk are no match for what a live sporting event can produce.  That brings with it a heavy burden; what years ago ABC’s Wide World of Sports coined ‘the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat’.  For these two teams they will live this out for a long time to come.  For Boca, it will always be known as the one that got away.  Kids, you will not be able to get this one out of your mind.  At your 50th high school reunion you will all get together and after the polite talk of spouses, jobs, kids and maybe grandkids by then, the whiskey and beer will flow and you will spend 75% of the reunion talking about this game.  Don’t avoid it, embrace it.  Most kids don’t get to experience a moment like this.  And even though you came out on the short end of the result you did yourselves, your sport and your school proud.  For those of you who don’t go on to play lacrosse at the next level: what a memory you will have.  And believe me when I tell you that 80% of the non-lacrosse players who show at that reunion will claim to have been there to see it.  Smile and thank them for it. As for SA; you have once again shown those who were in attendance why this program is so good.  A number of talented kids that just refused to lose.  Whether this group goes on and adds to its’ collection of titles or not, thanks in advance for this memory. Heart of the champion SA Boca District Final 2013 214_opt The team statistics were very close: Faceoffs:  SA 12 – Boca 13 Shots:  SA 33 – Boca 32 SOGs:  SA 24 – Boca 21  Great shooting both teams! Turnovers:  SA 20 – Boca 19 SA Boca District Final 2013 591_opt Individual statistics Schultz led Boca with 4 goals, with McCabe and Collins adding 2G each.  Rodormer with his goal, Clinton with two assists and Singer with his assist. SA was led by Whipple’s 4G/3A (five of his points in the second half), Reall’s 3G/2A, Mahler with 3G/1A, Levine’s 1G/2A all coming in the five goal comeback, Wheeler with a goal and Kennedy adding his assist. Both Boca’s Martin and SA’s Etchevery ended with 12 saves, many of them spectacular. Kids, thanks for this one . . . Thanks also to Coaches Dawson and Holly for spending time with me after the game.  They’ll be able to talk about this one over beer right away.  I’d love to listen in . . .