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Cardinal O’Hara stuns La Salle in OT, advances to Flyers Cup AAA semifinals

Cardinal O’Hara goalie Troy Percival watches as teammate Ronan Plummer battles La Salle’s Brandon Leer for a loose puck in front of the net during their Flyers Cup AAA quarterfinal on Thursday, March 8, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

HATFIELD TWP. >> Jacob Pohlig put away a rebound off his own initial shot seven minutes and 12 seconds into overtime, lifting Cardinal O’Hara to a thrilling 3-2 victory over La Salle in the quarterfinal round of the Flyers Cup AAA tournament Thursday night.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Pohlig said. “It was like a dream.”

Pohlig had a breakaway, his first shot saved by keeper William Affel, but then Pohlig got to the rebound and put it away to send the fifth-seeded Lions to the semis. They will face off against top-seeded  Holy Ghost Monday night at 7 at Grundy.

The fourth-seeded Explorers nearly ended it when a they got a shot to trickle past keeper Troy Percival, but O’Hara’s Ronan Plummer knocked it out of the goal mouth just in time. That would trigger the breakaway the other way, leading to Pohlig’s game winner.

Just like that, a tremendous season for No. 4 La Salle was over.

La Salle’s Michael Casey receives a pass during the Explorers’ Flyers Cup AAA quarterfinal game against Cardinal O’Hara on Thursday, March 8, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

“O’Hara played a great game,” Explorers coach Walter Muehlbronner said. “It could have went either way there in the last 10 minutes – there were a lot of good opportunities for both teams.

“We hit a couple posts and (O’Hara) had some great opportunities too. It was a good game, we fought hard, and (O’Hara) came out on top.”

The two teams battled back and forth early, the game remaining scoreless until Liam McCanney scored on a power play for O’Hara, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the first.

La Salle seemed to come to life when Daniel Sambuco scored off an assist from Michael Casey, tying things up at one apiece four minutes into the second.

Both teams struck again.

McCanney set up John Paul Ahearn for a go-ahead goal for O’Hara but six minutes later the Explorers drew even again, with Michael Casey finding an opening with just a couple minutes to go in the second period.

La Salle’s Daniel Saobuco takes a shot on Cardinal O’Hara goalie Troy Percival during their Flyers Cup AAA quarterfinal on Thursday, March 8, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The two teams went into the third tied at two. Affel and O’Hara keeper Troy Percival didn’t allow a thing in the third, sending the game to OT.

La Salle hit the crossbar in the opening minutes of overtime and then O’Hara had a flurry of shots at the other end, but the score remained deadlocked until Pohlig put away his rebound.

“Troy played really well and our team stuck to it the whole way,” he said.

The Explorers graduated 15 players last year but were able to make another run into March this season.

“We’re definitely a very young team this year,” Muehlbronner said. “There were a lot of guys playing in this game for the first time. So it’s a learning experience and we’ll be back at it next year.”

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