The Bears Varsity Boys Lacrosse team won its second straight with a heart-stopping win in overtime against a difficult competitor, the Fellowship Christian Paladins, by a score of 14-13 on Thursday, Feb. 21st.
The Bears opened in good form playing challenging defense and a capable spread offense leading to an effective first quarter. The team gained an early lead on a shot from Junior Captain, Reese Pieroni, on a feed from fellow Junior, Ian Dexter. During the first quarter, the team successfully won over half of the face-offs and executed well on defensive clears with a 75% clear average early allowing for the 1st quarter lead. Team Captain, Chase DuMond, delivered the team's second goal with an effective dodge from behind the goal drawing a penalty by a late Paladin defender as the ball drilled the net. On the ensuing man-up possession, Perioni made the visitors pay by adding his second goal of the game taking the lead to 3-1 to end the quarter.
During a lengthy Bears possession, which included multiple shots at the net, the Bears stayed patient ultimately leading to an Ian Dexter goal midway through Q2 and a 4-1 lead. The offense, while passing crisply and moving the ball, saw its shooting percentage hit a game low 17% during Q2. The visitors cut the Bears lead to 4-2 as the quarter reached its midpoint. A few minutes later, during a quality man up possession by Cambridge where several shots just missed, Dexter drilled an effective pass into the waiting stick of Zach Shiffman for the fifth goal of the game. Fellowship continued to push the ball up field and scored two goals as the half closed thus gaining a bit of momentum for the second half.
Things picked up after halftime as the Paladins saw more possession time. For the game, the Bears defense hung tough during many possessions and gained advantages via effective ground ball play led by Zach Ellington, Matthew Schnetza and Bryson Hawkins each achieving four ground balls for the game. Sophomore goalie, Danny Dexter, and his defensive teammates held strong during the 3rd quarter. In one series, Junior defender Ian Woods--who played key minutes at both defense and long stick middie--held off his offensive counterpart allowing Dexter to thwart a score attempt. Both teams forced turnovers on each other throughout the quarter but the Bears broke through to gain a 6-4 lead on a sweet shot from Bryson Hawkins via a Shiffman assist. Minutes later, Shiffman's passing prowess led to another goal as he fed Ian Oblen on a misdirection play and a 7-5 lead. Hawkins added his second of the game with a nice cut a few yards above the crease receiving a pass from Ian Dexter, who had three assists for the game. Chase DuMond put distance between the Bears and their foes with another creative dodge play that led to two Paladin defenders knocking each other down allowing for a clean shot into the net and a 9-7 lead. Oblen's second goal of the game, on a sweet lefty fireball kept the team ahead 10-8. The offense was perfect in the quarter hitting five goals out of five shots.
It was during the 4th quarter that the game got exciting. Holding a two-goal lead, Cambridge fell prone to a series of mental mistakes, penalties and busted assignments that allowed the Paladins to seize a lead, scoring three straight goals. The team settled in leading to a well-executed two man play by Freshman, Tyler Morris, and DuMond. Morris fed the Junior Captain at the crease allowing a quick catch and shot by DuMond and an 11-11 tie. The Paladins didn't blink as the Bear defense grew tired. Down 12-11, Bryson Hawkins had one of the game's highlights with a looping dodge move that drew a cross check penalty by his defender. As the play continued with the yellow flag on the ground, Hawkins achieved the ultimate pay back by taking his defender to the goal and slapping the ball just past the goalie. Tied at 12, the Bears carelessness led to a two-man down situation. Playing six on four, the visitors were able to take the lead again with less than three minutes to play. The next Bears possession came up empty but a brilliant midfield strip on a trap play by Pieroni, Hawkins and Morris led to a turnover. Junior Zach Shiffman came up with the loose ball finding Chase DuMond up field in the offensive zone. DuMond was not to be denied as his fourth goal of the game led to a 13-13 tie. The offense had three shots in the final minute to seal the game in regulation but good defensive play by the visitors thwarted the effort.
During OT, Danny Dexter played brilliantly helping stop several quality Paladin shots, including one man down situation caused from a Bears offsides play. Dexter's 18 saves were a key reason he received Player of the Game honors. A costly Paladin turnover with less than two minutes left in the extended period led to the final Bears possession. With the ball knocked free on the offensive side, Bryson Hawkins scrambled to collect a pivotal ground ball. Once settled, Zach Shiffman was able to shake his defender on a dodge move from behind the net putting the winning shot into the goal and a 14-13 win. It was a gutsy performance by many on the team.
The win puts the Bears at 2-1 on the season. The team hosts South Forsyth on Saturday, Feb 23rd.