Spring­field edges Exeter in OT in state opener

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Jack McCaf­fery jm­c­caf­fery@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Jack­McCaf­fery on Twit­ter

RADNOR » At some point in any lacrosse tour­na­ment, the even­tual cham­pion will look back one game and be thank­ful for its goal­tender.

For Spring­field High, which out­lasted Exeter Town­ship, 9-8, in over­time in the PIAA Class AAA tour­na­ment at Radnor High, that game was Tues­day.

“I thought Ai­den Gallagher,” said Cougars coach Keith Broome, in some­thing of an ex­hale, “saved our butt.”

In a game sub­stan­tially tighter than their first-round rout over Exeter last sea­son, the Cougars needed three mas­sive, game-defin­ing saves from Gallagher in the sec­ond half to im­prove to 19-4 and win a spot in the sec­ond round. The sopho­more keeper made crit­i­cal stops with 14:10, 11:30, 10:30 and 7:22 to play in a 17-goal game in which nei­ther team ever trailed by more than a goal.

That was enough to create sud­den-vic­tory over­time, which Erin Gorm­ley ended with a goal at 2:27.

“It was nerve-wrack­ing,” Broome said. “I give a lot of credit to Exeter. They re­ally came to play.”

Olivia Lit­tle scored three goals and added an as­sist for the Cougars, who re­bounded from their loss to Gar­net Val­ley in the District 1 fi­nal. Dana Carl­son and Gorm­ley added two goals apiece, and Is­abelle Mas­tropi­etro added a goal and an as­sist.

“I don’t think we played well,” Broome said. “I don’t think we played to the best of our abil­ity. I was wait­ing for some­body to step up and get ahead by two goals. And we never did that. We beat them last year. But they are a bet­ter team. And their goalie made some saves at the end.”

Like Gallagher, Elli Godinez kept Exeter com­pet­i­tive, gen­er­at­ing nine saves. And when Is­abella Karstien scored with 2:09 left, the Ea­gles forced an 8-8 tie and, as it would hap­pen, the ex­tra time. Given that the Ea­gles had lost, 15-5, to the Cougars in the first round last sea­son, that meant their 17-6 sea­son ended in some level of sat­is­fac­tion.

“I think that was a huge im­prove­ment over last year,” said Exeter coach Jill Rudy. “The girls played awe­some. We played a good, solid game. We made a few men­tal er­rors at the end. But over­all, I was happy with the way they played. They played un­selfishly. They played to­gether. They ex­e­cuted our plan. It could have gone ei­ther way.”

Kylee Hu­biak and Karstien scored four goals each for Exeter, which took a 7-6 lead with 13:16 left.

“They had all their goals,” Broome said. “One had four, the other had four. So you would think we would play a lit­tle bit bet­ter de­fen­sively, clos­ing space. But, hey, we live to play another day.” Gallagher was a ma­jor rea­son.

“It’s just that once the game gets go­ing, and once I get into it, I get the adren­a­line flow­ing,” Gallagher said. “And then you get some big saves, and your confidence goes up.”

In a sport where the goal-scor­ers typ­i­cally get to do the most cel­e­brat­ing, Gallagher had a cer­tain urge to make her con­tri­bu­tions at the other side of the field.

“I knew it was a big role to play,” she said. “So I liked the idea of that. And we’ve had a lot of close games lately.”

With sec­onds left in the first three-minute over­time pe­riod, Gorm­ley ended one Tues­day from a free po­si­tion, shoot­ing low and to the stick side.

“That’s what I was go­ing for,” Gorm­ley said. “It was a good game. And our team re­ally worked to­gether and all came to­gether and came out with a win.

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