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Saint Andrew’s Ends Columbus Catholic Run 16-11 With Late Heroics – Again . . .

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
Remember how your Mom taught you that ‘cream rises to the top’? It’s usually a good thing to listen to her. In a reprise of their fourth quarter heroics against Boca, the SA Scots saved their best for last, scoring six of the last seven goals of the game to win 16-11 against a game Columbus Catholic team that had tied the score early in the fourth on Gabe Perez’s unassisted goal at 10-10 with 8:15 to play. How did they do it? The usual suspects; the star players making key plays at key times combined with Grant Mahler completely dominating the face-off circle. SA was able to overcome an uncharacteristically horrible shooting performance for the first three quarters, taking 43 shots and only hitting the net 18 times. In the fourth they managed to put 9 of 13 on goal and scored six times to finally pull away late. And on the defensive side of the ball SA focused on keeping CC from running its’ isolation strategy of utilizing their athleticism to break down SA’s defense. SA started keeping an extra player in the hole to take away the one-on-one dodges. Kudos to SA’s long poles for really stepping it up late. The key strategic change made by the SA coaching staff in the second half was for the attack to dodge from behind while the other attack played up top and on wing. Jake Levine, in particular, was able to take advantage of his match-up and score on dodges from behind the goal. Eventually this caused CC to come out of its’ comfort zone defensively and led to other dodging breakdowns that put the game away. Making CC’s task more difficult was Mahler’s 18 of 20 face-off wins in the second half. Neither goalie had a particularly sharp game as the setting sun and darkness (the lights didn’t really kick in well) kept them from seeing the ball well. Corey Etcheverry ended with 4 saves on 15 shots on goal and Michael Davide stopped 8 of 24. To be fair to both, most of the goals scored were within 5 yards of the goal. Grant "Taco" Mahler wins the face off CC’s Perez opened the scoring 7 minutes into the game on a center dodge set up from being isolated on the right side against the run of play, as SA had controlled the ball for most of those seven minutes. CC turned the ball over 10 times in the first, mostly on attempted clears. But SA was missing the net with their shots and found themselves trailing because of it. After Perez’s goal Andy Wheeler scored twice in 52 seconds, both on left alley dodges and low shots, sending the teams to the second period with SA leading 2-1. CC opened the second by tying the game on Alex Ferran’s goal off a pretty crease feed from behind by Alec Carreras at the 8:40 mark. 45 seconds later Keith Mahler tied the game on a similar left alley dodge at 7:55. Just 8 seconds later Cody Brais picked up the face-off and scored off a quick move to the middle of the field, and 33 seconds after that Grant Nordlund took a behind the cage feed from Sebi Cancio to make the score 4-3 CC with 7:14 left in the period. With 3:42 left Nicky Quintairos fired home a step down shot from a behind the crease feed from Carreras on the EMO to make the score 5-3. Conor Whipple then replied a minute later after curling from behind the net on the right side to send the game to halftime with CC up 5-4. At this point the game was looking like a replay of the STA game Friday, as CC had stayed close and even taken the lead despite being dominated statistically. In the second quarter CC had scored 4 goals on 6 shots, all of which hit the net. They actually won the face-off battle in the period 4-3 and cut down the turnovers to only three. SA only put 6 of 13 on net, committed four turnovers and took the only penalty of the period, which CC scored on. Fair to say that CC played pretty much the perfect quarter for them and it showed on the scoreboard. SA Columbus Regional Final 919_opt CC came out and pushed the lead to two on Nordlund’s second of the game, picking up a loose ball in front of the crease and potting it at 10:40. 27 seconds later Levine scored his first off a curl dodge set up by Whipple’s screen, beating the CC long pole to the front (a theme that would be repeated a number of times). Less than a minute later Whipple tied the game at 6 with pretty much the same move. A minute after that CC took back the lead on an EMO goal scored by Nordlund off Steven Hernandez’s feed from the left wing. But just 5 seconds later Mahler popped the face-off forward and went straight down the middle to tie the game again. This might have been the turning point of the game; CC spending a lot of energy staying with SA in an up and down game surrendering the lead so quickly. 5 goals in 2:31 of game time giving your intrepid reporter writer’s cramp . . . SA continued the run, adding goals by Whipple and Levine to stretch the lead to two for the first time in the game. At 4:11 Whipple took a fast break pass from Levine, burying a shot from the right side. Levine then scored at 3:02 unassisted with another curl from behind, as the CC long poles started to tire. But 44 seconds later Nordlund scored off a fast break pass from Carreras to cut the lead to one. And just 15 seconds after that Levine duplicated his previous goal to make it 10-8 SA after three. Another 4 goals in 2:08 – time to reach for the aspirin . . . SA continued their poor shooting, hitting the net on 7 of their 16 shots (6 went in!), but won 8 of 10 face-offs to offset that. CC scored on 3 of their 7 shot attempts. SAColumbusRegionalFinal128_opt In the fourth, just like Friday, CC came to life early. At 9:49 Hernandez scored his lone goal of the game (keeping Hernandez in check made a significant difference) off Carreras’ third assist of the game from the left wing. Perez scored his goal to tie the game and set up the final SA flurry. At 7:33 Whipple made an All-American spin dodge and buried a far corner shot off a narrow angle. At 5:53, Stephen Reall scored his first on a fast break where he cut between two defenders towards the middle. 14 seconds later Nick Ranta added one off a Mahler feed, firing home a step down laser from about 10 yards out. At 4:29 Whipple took Reall’s cross-crease feed to make it 14-10. 3:04 of game clock. 4 goals. Cream rises to the top . . . again. Just like Boca. Why not just do this in the first quarter next time? CC got one back at 3:21 with Brais putting one home from the right side after curling from behind the net. But Keith Mahler and Reall added last minute goals to push the final to 16-11. Mahler won all nine face-offs in the fourth and SA’s shooting finally got on track. SA Columbus Regional Final 1341_opt For CC – an end to the best season in school history. A large senior class that helped take their program on the path to a level they probably only dreamed about a couple of seasons ago. A great job by their players, Coach Delang and his staff, the CC Administration and their fans, who were loud, rabid AND well-behaved. Let’s hope they keep the momentum and help Dade County join Broward and Palm Beach as mainstays for high school lacrosse. For SA, once again they show what makes this group so special. Keeping their poise while trailing on the road, keeping their poise while surrendering the lead in the fourth and keeping their poise when they needed to pull the game out late. Now on to Orlando, or more accurately West Orange (dear FHSAA – Port St. Lucie was a great venue, please remember it for the future), as they look to add one more title to the display case in Boca. Team statistics: Face-offs: SA 24 – CC 7 Shots: SA 57 – CC 24 SOGs: SA 24 – CC 15 Turnovers: SA 22 – CC 21 Penalties: CC 4 – SA 2 Whipple led the Scots with 5G and Jake Levine put up 3G/1A (as well as causing his usual havoc on rides with some key caused turnovers). Wheeler and Keith Mahler with 2G each, Reall with 2G/1A, Grant Mahler with 1G/1A and 11 groundballs and Ranta with a goal. Nordlund led CC with 4G, while Brais and Perez added two each. Hernandez (1G/1A), Quintairos and Ferran with a goal each. Josef Shabaz and Cancio added an assist each. Thanks to Coaches DeLang and Dawson for taking the time to speak with me after the game.