HAVERFORD >> For the first three weeks of the lacrosse season, Alex McKendry established himself as an important cog in the Haverford attack.
The junior midfielder was one of the select group that the Fords regularly deploy, and while he didn’t put up the most eye-popping numbers, he did score in six of Haverford’s first seven games.
Then came a lifeguarding class, an ill-timed jump in the pool and a bruised right heel, which led to the suboptimal combination of gel insoles, bags of ice and two lost weeks.
“I’m definitely upset about it but I try to keep it in the back of my mind and hustle through it,” McKendry was saying Tuesday.
Those lost games are behind him, and the road to redemption in the postseason started in auspicious fashion.
McKendry scored twice, his most prolific output since Game 5 of the season, to contribute to a 10-3 romp for the No. 10 seed Fords over No. 23 Wissahickon in the first round of the District 1 Class 3A tournament.
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) May 17, 2017
Haverford (13-5) advances to Thursday’s second round to meet No. 7 seed North Penn.
McKendry tallied with eight seconds left in the third quarter, a ferocious goal in which he lowered his shoulder and sent two would-be Trojan defenders sprawling to the turf before rifling home. He added a second tally in the fourth off a feed from Luke McCallion, who was plenty busy on the night.
McKendry is up to 13 goals for the season, and while that ranks comfortably sixth in the Fords’ attacking rotation, McKendry’s reemergence presents another option in an arsenal stocked with weapons. Allocating short sticks against the Fords is a dangerous proposition, even more so if McKendry is feeling as bullish as he did Tuesday.
“With the guys we have now, most of us have been playing since club lacrosse,” McKendry said. “We go back three or four years. When everything is clicking and passes are going, shots are flying, it’s a beautiful thing out there. They’re incredible.”
It certainly didn’t hurt that the Fords so ruthlessly denied the Trojans the ball, thanks to McCallion. The senior University of Vermont commit thoroughly overmatched the four Wissahickon players thrown his way on draws, going 15-for-16 at the X. He augmented that with two goals and two assists.
Wissahickon (7-12) defended tenaciously and caused its share of turnovers despite the lack of a devoted faceoff specialist. But often, the energy expended trying to get the ball back left too little on the offensive end, a pursuit not aided by Haverford’s crispness in riding out clears that led to three 10-second infractions, an immensely rare occurrence.
“It’s really rough when you have to clear the ball to create an offensive possession,” senior goalie Cooper McMasters said. “It just gives them such an advantage right off the bat.”
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) May 16, 2017
The Haverford defense did the rest. They received a wakeup call when John Esposito opened the scoring at 8:37 of the first quarter, and nominal FOGO Thomas Clements cut the deficit to 3-2 in the final minute of the period.
But Nick DiIorio buried the second of his three goals with 22 ticks left in the frame, and the Haverford defense kept Wissahickon off the board for the next 35 minutes, a drought broken only with 72 seconds to play courtesy of John Dickson.
“It wakes us up,” junior defenseman Tom Fredericks said. “We played more focused, played our game. … As long as we play our game, we shouldn’t give up anything.”
Wissahickon’s defense keyed on Jack Daly, the 44-goal man who was held to just a goal and an assist Tuesday. But that attention came at a price.
“A lot of time when we thwarted the things that we knew were coming, they ended up bringing (the ball) to X,” said McMasters, who made eight saves. “And a lot of times they had guys back-side that were pretty sneaky and caught us being lazy and ball-watching and were able to sneak a lot of back-cuts in. … Sometimes it was a matter of size, and sometimes they were just moving the ball too quick.”
Cole Lukasiewicz scored twice in the first half. McCallion often drew a short-stick middie, and he exploited that ill-advised tactic with pinpoint passes and dogged dodges from behind the crease that carved the defense open.
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) May 17, 2017
That attack averages a shade under 12 goals per game this season. And with McKendry on the mend and fully back in the fold, the Fords are that much more daunting to quell.
“Having those six guys we have is a beautiful thing,” McKendry said. “Everyone plays really well, and it’s really fun out there.”
Also in the District 1 Class 3A tournament:
Ridley 15, Council Rock North 10 >> Brock Anderson and Cade Stratton scored four goals apiece, Anderson adding an assist as the No. 17 seed Green Raiders pulled the minor upset against the No. 16 Indians.
Ridley’s reward for a long drive north is a longer ride west in Thursday’s second round at top-seeded Avon Grove, which beat Ridley, 17-4, just last week.
Zane Johnston added a hat trick and an assist for Ridley (11-8). Sean Crowley paired two goals with a helper, and Devon Tavani contributed a goal and two assists.