Lacrosse Wins Third Consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League Championship
The Lacrosse Team at La Salle College High School defeated Saint Joseph's Prep by a score of 8-7 on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at Neumann University to win their third consecutive Philadelphia Catholic League Championship and the program's 19th championship in the last 22 years. The Explorers erased a 3-0 halftime deficit as junior Aidan Kerrigan notched a hat trick and senior Mitch Soufleris scored twice. Freshman faceoff specialist Anthony Giuliani won 18 of 20 draws and junior attackman Zach Drake scored with 8.8 seconds left in the game to break a 7-7 tie and catapult the Explorers into the District 12 (City) Championship game at 3:30 pm on Friday, May 23, 2014 at Northeast High School.
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"LAST SPIN" - GAME SUMMARY FROM DAILY NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND LA SALLE SENIOR DAN SPINELLI
Interestingly enough, the first La Salle sporting event I ever attended was a lacrosse game in 2005. The always-dominant Explorers had won the state championship in 2004 and would cruise to a nice playoff run before falling short in states. As fate would have it, the last La Salle sporting event I will attend as a student is tonight's Catholic League championship matchup between La Salle and Saint Joseph's Prep. These perennial rivals, meeting for the 13th straight year in the championship game, served up another instant classic. Every classic game needs its heroes, and tonight the spotlight fell on two juniors: Aidan Kerrigan and Zach Drake. Both players highlighted a sterling second half for the Explorers in a back-and-forth whirlwind of a game.
For most attendees, tonight's matchup felt like two different games. In the first half, St. Joe's played strong defense, shutting out the dynamic Explorers while gaining a 3-0 advantage. As any casual observer of lacrosse knows, goals can come in bunches (and they did), but St. Joe's first half lead kept the passionate La Salle crowd feeling uneasy.
What can only be explained as a seismic shift in play occurred in the second half. Within four minutes the Explorers tied up the score en route to a 5-1 run in the quarter. Coaches Bill Leahy and Tony Resch must have given some halftime speech! The Explorers put enormous pressure on the Hawks defense, allowing seniors Mike Rihm, Mitch Soufleris, and Steve Hudak to notch goals, and Kerrigan to score goals. Senior "middies" Adam Maiale and Trent Melsheimer as well as junior Cody Mazurek helped assist some of those goals, as well as others throughout the game. The Explorers utterly dominated face-offs, taking the ball 6 out of 7 times from the Hawks in the quarter. Freshman Anthony Giuliani frequently won face-offs for the Explorers. Almost always, these victories would translate into long offensive sets and an eventual goal. Senior Colin MacDougall only sacrificed one goal in the quarter, giving the Explorers a 5-4 lead heading into the final period. Senior defenseman Matt Laudadio helped protect the Explorers' zone.
A competitive and entertaining fourth quarter ended the game. Soufleris traded goals with Steve Tobia (his second of the day) of St. Joe's to maintain La Salle's one goal advantage. Aidan Kerrigan completed a hat trick on a spectacular goal at the 2:40 mark of the fourth quarter to give La Salle a 7-5 lead. However, the Hawks fought back valiantly and Pat Walsh of The Prep scored two shots in near succession to tie the game at 7-7. Walsh's second goal came at the 51 second mark of the quarter, and it appeared that we would be headed to an intense overtime period. However, the Explorers caught lightning in a bottle, or rather, Zach Drake caught lightning in a bottle. With eight seconds remaining in the game, the Lehigh-bound junior somehow got open on the right side of the net and tossed in the championship-winning goal.
I am sure the La Salle lacrosse faithful are no strangers to the familiar victory cry of a Philadelphia Catholic League champion. However, yet again, on a clear weekday night at Neumann University, Coaches Bill Leahy, Tony Resch, and a slew of devoted parents could hear the screams of joyful and victorious players.