EMMAUS >> The Lansdale Catholic boys lacrosse team has had its share of tough patches over the course of this season.
But almost every time, the Crusaders banded together, focused on the goal at hand and did what was necessary to survive.
Saturday afternoon at Emmaus High School in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals, the Crusaders were looking at another rough scenario.
After leading for the bulk of its game against semis foe Crestwood, LC found itself trailing, 9-8, with 2:07 left on the third quarter clock.
One more time the Crusaders dug deep.
And one more time they pulled through.
The Crusaders scored the game’s final four goals, including the only three of the fourth quarter, to emerge with a 12-9 victory over the Comets, a victory that puts LC in the Class AA semifinals, where they’ll meet Springfield-Delco, which took out Central Catholic of Allentown Saturday, 12-9, at a site and time to be determined.
“In the program’s history, we’ve never made it this far,” said sophomore attack Ryan Flanegan, whose goal with 8:39 left turned out to be the game winner. “We knew the fourth quarter was going to determine the result, so we just put our emotions aside and went all out in the fourth quarter.”
Still, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Comets had a chance to tie it.
Instead, the Crusaders defense stood tall, held their foes without a shot, then notched two goals of their own in the final 38 seconds.
“For those of us in the senior class, we’ve worked hard for four years and we weren’t going to give up,” said Nick Heiler, who dominated the face-off circle. “We’ve played tougher games than this, and we were determined to finish this one out.”
That the Crusaders did.
And while head coach Thomas Nace was not around at game’s end (he had a previous commitment to attend a wedding and left in the contest’s final seconds), his team was razor sharp and determined to do right by its leader.
LC opened the game by scoring three times before the contest was three minutes old, as two goals by Flanegan and another by Heiler gave the Crusaders a 3-0 lead at the 9:11 mark.
But the Comets, and their amazing freshman Anthony Caporuscio, came storming back, scoring four of the game’s five goals to take a 5-4 lead at the 4:52 mark of the second period.
The Crusaders would have none of it, however, and they scored three of the game’s next four goals to carry a 7-6 lead into halftime.
Crestwood answered right back, however, and with Caporuscio notching two of his team’s next three goals, the Comets took that fateful 9-8 lead with 2:07 left in the third.
But the Comets (15-8) would not score again, as the LC defense would stiffen, and the Crusaders offense would hold onto the ball for long stretches of time.
Meanwhile, LC (18-4) got two goals from Mike Basilii and single goals from Flanegan and Grady Kelly to tuck the game away.
And it was on to the state semis.
“When the game gets close you have to put emotions aside and play hard,” Flanegan said. “That’s what we did today and now we’re two wins away from a state championship.”
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 12, CRESTWOOD 9
Lansdale Catholic 3-4-2-3_ 12
Crestwood 2-4-3-0 _ 9
Lansdale Catholic goals: Ryan Flanegan (4); Joe Walsh (3); Nick Heiler (2); Mike Basilii (2); Grady Kelly (1).
Crestwood goals: Anthony Caporuscio (5); Kyle Richards (2); Owen Grigas (1); Zachary Anderson (1).
Saves: LC – Bob Bausman 6; Crestwood – Reed Karaska 8.