Haverford downs Gettysburg
Haverford captures first men’s lacrosse Centennial tourney crown
GETTYSBURG, Pa. (5/2) - The Haverford College men's lacrosse team never trailed during its 11-8 win over second-ranked Gettysburg College in the Centennial Conference championship game Sunday afternoon on Shirk Field at Musselman Stadium as the Fords claimed their first tournament title.
Haverford (11-5), NCAA tournament participants the past two years via at-large bids, earned its way to the national party 'automatically' this time by building, at one point, a five goal lead midway through the second period then closed the deal late in the fourth with an empty net, man-up goal by Andrew Kim though Gettysburg (15-2) netted one more tally to create the final three-goal margin.
Max Hjelm opened the game's scoring with his first of four goals on the day, taking a pass from Phillip Valliant and burying a shot past Bullets goalie Jon LeClerc in the fourth minute.
Not quite two minutes later Zack Cohen notched an unassisted goal then Valliant followed with his own unassisted mark less than three minutes later to stake Haverford to a quick 3-0 lead.
Gettysburg's Chris Cahill ended the Haverford string with his 14th of the season but the Fords opened the second period with another three-goal outburst as Hjelm scored the bookend goals with Cohen getting the middle tally for a 6-1 lead with just under nine minutes remaining in the half.
After trading scores with the Fords the Bullets got consecutive goals from Pat Sartory to cut the Haverford lead to three but Brian Fleishhacker found the back of the Gettysburg net with one tick left on the clock to allow the 'underdogs' to take an 8-4 lead into the halftime break.
Throughout the regular season the Fords at times waffled between big, early deficits that they would battle back from, and leads that got away. Eight times during the season games were decided by one goal with the Fords winning five of those nail-biters.
In the league semifinal Friday afternoon Haverford faced a Dickinson College squad that in the regular season meeting trailed the Fords by multiple goals in the fourth but rallied for a one-goal victory. And against the Bullets, the Fords were way down early but rallied falling one goal short in that regular season meeting.
The end of the season has been what head coach Colin Bathory had been waiting for, though. His Fords were now finding the ways to win those close ones finishing on a four-game win streak -- three in overtime, one in double-overtime, and the other a one-goal victory -- heading into the Centennial tournament.
"We played (Dickinson and Gettysburg) these teams to one-goal losses during the year, and we felt we were better than those results," said Bathory after Sunday's championship victory. "They are obviously quality teams and they're going to get their goals, but over the end of the season we started doing more things right, and from that, our confidence grew in both ends of the field. Now it's a six-game streak and it's time to get ready for NCAAs."
Over Sunday's final 30 minutes the Bullets planted the seeds of a comeback, after Hjelm and Kim had netted two quick scores to open the third and make the score 10-4, registering three unanswered of their own but Kim's final empty-netter sealed the deal and gave Haverford the opportunity to hoist the conference trophy for the first time in the program's history.
Joe Banno stood tall in goal all day for the Fords finishing with 15 saves in the win while LeClerc took the loss making four saves.
Dillon Hamill and Grant Firestone each registered three caused turnovers to help lead the defensive effort in front of Banno that allowed just 23 of Gettysburg's 46 shots to make it on frame
So now the Fords wait. National selection day for the NCAA championship is next Sunday with the opening round kicking off Wednesday, May 12, followed by the second round Saturday, May 15.
Haverford is in, and both Gettysburg and Dickinson, each with only two losses on the year, will likely get in via at-large bids allowing the Centennial to have three teams in the tourney. Whether the Fords, or the Bullets and/or the Red Devils, get a buy into the second round will be determined by nightfall next Sunday.