PEABODY, Mass. – Both sides were prepared for the photo finish. It’s how they got there that came as a surprise.
Catholic Central League lacrosse rivals Austin Prep and Arlington Catholic play each other twice during the regular season and a third installment came Monday at Bishop Fenwick High in a second-round matchup of the Division 3 tournament. For the fourth time in the teams’ last five meetings, they played to a carbon copy 9-8 result. And, while they split the season series, Austin Prep saved the best for last, coming back from a two-goal, fourth-quarter deficit to advance to the tournament quarterfinals.
“We were luck to have the run at the end,” said a relieved AP head coach Peter Smyth.
Holding on to a 6-3 lead early in the third quarter, AP (18-2) watched its lead turn into a deficit by the fourth, as AC (12-8) rattled off a string of five straight goals in the next 11 minutes.
Then, AP got on a run of its own, rallying to score two quick goals within 18 seconds and tie the game, 8-8, with 4:05 remaining. Justin Demichaelis tallied the game-winner with 2:50 remaining.
“Bobo Carpenter’s done a great job cutting from the top of the box all year, so I thought they thought he’d probably do the same thing,” the senior attackman said. “But I saw the open lane, he put it on my stick and that’s really all it was.”
While AC had taken the only “blow-out” decision in the teams’ recent history (an 8-3 win in April), the Cougars started slow on Monday.
“When it was 4-1, I said, ‘I think we’re in trouble,’” AC head coach Dan Brothers said. “We didn’t seem to have much. There were breakdowns, we were missing passes, missing slides, missed a couple shots here and there.”
After Carpenter tallied his game-high fourth of game at 8:53 of the third quarter, AC closed with three goals, including two from Billy Barrett (hat trick) to tie the game, 6-6, at the end of the period. Bryan Hunt provided the go-ahead goal at 9:26 of the fourth before Bryan Daly made it a two-goal game.
Charley Shippee and Sam Morgan brought AP back even before Demichaelis’ eventual game-winner.
AP finished the comeback victory with an impressive possession display after winning the final faceoff. They cycled through the box for more than two minutes to ensure AC would not touch the ball again.
“We work on that every practice, our two-minute drill, we call it,” Smyth said. “I have a stopwatch, set it to two minutes and they have to keep it in the box for two minutes against our defense, which is throwing everything at them. Sometimes we’ll put seven guys out there trying to kill it.”
AP advances to host No. 10 seed Hanover Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Brothers hoped for a better ending for his senior-laden group, but considered the larger picture
“They’ve been a big part of the program, a lot of them have been with us for four years,” he said. “This will hurt them for a while, but tomorrow we’ll all wake up, put our feet on the ground and realize this was a great four years.”