Connect with us

Top Story

Cool Springfield rallies past Radnor to reach district final

All-Delco Kyle Long, left, assisted on the winning goal as Springfield rallied in the second half for a 9-5 victory over Central League rival Radnor Tuesday night in the District 1 Class 2A boys lacrosse semifinals. (DFM File)

SPRINGFIELD >> Carrying a deficit into halftime isn’t something the Springfield boys lacrosse team has gotten much practice at in recent weeks. But as the goal-scoring runs ping-ponged between it and Radnor in the first half Tuesday night and the host Cougars toted a one-goal disadvantage into the break, the message from coach Tom Lemieux was clear.

The halftime theme would be calmness. The first goal of the second half would be crucial. And it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to pick who on the Springfield sideline would be most likely to deliver that big moment.

Kyle Long evened the score after six tense minutes, then set up Aidan Shandley’s game-winner later in the quarter as the No. 2 seed Cougars outlasted No. 3 Radnor, 9-5, in a District 1 Class 2A semifinal.

The win sends Springfield (16-2) to its fifth straight PIAA tournament and third district final in four years. It has won the last two district crowns (in the one-classification iteration in 2016 and 2A in 2017). Waiting is top seed Bishop Shanahan, which ousted Strath Haven, 9-6. Radnor (15-5) and Haven (15-5) will battle for the district’s third and final states bid.

Springfield’s progress owes less to halftime adjustments than to the equanimity not to make big changes.

“We were cool, calm and collected,” midfielder Jack Spence said. “Lemieux just kept us cool. He said we were in it, we just had to finish the ball. It was our offense that was struggling.”

“That next goal is huge,” Long said. “The first goal in the second half is one of the biggest goals of the game. We responded well and we got the next one.”

Long did the deed after the Springfield defense withstood a possession of more than four minutes from Radnor, featuring five shots and two saves from Jimmy Donegan. The payoff for all that Radnor pressure was a quick outlet, a Long dodge and a shot poked past Archer Darrach to tie it at 4.

Radnor’s offense responded quickly, aided by a penalty and a momentum boost from the sidelines. Connor Pierce, the all-state midfielder and University of Delaware commit, had missed the last eight games with a stress fracture in his leg. His first game out was against Springfield, an 11-9 loss in April.

But Pierce suited up for the first time since then Tuesday night, and after watching the first half, got a few runs in the attacking half and on man-up situations. He entered to a rousing cheer from the Radnor fans and gave a visible lift to his mates, even if he didn’t look 100 percent.

“It was definitely a big moment because we missed him a lot,” attackman Drew Brown said. “Guys like Jack Dooley and Eric Halpern, they all stepped up, but we were just happy to see Connor come back and play the way he did, not 100 percent but he definitely showed that he deserves everything that he gets.”

Pierce had an impact on the score sheet, too, his skip pass to Brown on a man advantage teeing up Brown’s fifth goal of the night to restore a 5-4 Radnor edge at 5:04 of the third.

But not only would it be Radnor’s last goal, it proved to be the last shot on target. Part of the cause was eight flags whistled on a slash-happy Radnor defense to just one on Springfield. But with only a 28-23 disadvantage on total shots, the Raiders simply didn’t find the cage enough, and a Springfield D that gritted its teeth after a shaky first was ready to punish such wastefulness.

“My teammates did a really good job of finding me open, and they did a good job of getting open,” Brown said. “We just didn’t finish all the shots that we needed to.”

“We just had to play within our system,” Spence said. “We weren’t communicating enough. But leaders like Pat Clemens and Donegan, they kept us in it, kept us communicating and that’s what led to a better second half.”

Springfield, on the other hand, tinkered just enough. Darrach was stellar in the first half and finished with 11 saves, gobbling up low efforts time and again. Joey DeBernardi bested him twice in the first quarter, but Darrach posted a second-quarter goose egg and held the Cougars off the board for 20 minutes, enough time for three Brown goals in the second stanza to nudge Radnor ahead.

But part of the Cougars’ halftime chill-out meant reassessing where to shoot on Darrach.

“He played amazing,” Brown said. “When he makes some of those crease saves or body saves, those are real juice plays. That definitely helped us out. He stopped a lot of really good opportunities and that helped us out a lot.”

“He had a really good night tonight,” Long said. “He stopped, I would probably say, 80 percent low. When we get a goalie going like that, it’s hard to put some in the back of the net. But we just keep chipping away, keep chipping away and we got some to fall late.”

Having Long, the All-Delco with more than 400 career points, doesn’t hurt either. Spence (two goals, assist) found Mike Tulskie for one of three man-up goals to knot the score at five in the third, then Long dished to the big sophomore Shandley to absorb punishment on the crease and rifle home with 12 ticks left and a flag down.

“That’s what he does,” Long said of Shandley. “He’s tall; it’s hard to save that shot when it’s coming off that high. He just does what he does well and he shot the ball. We tell him all the time, ‘listen, you’re a really good shooter. Just do what you do well.’ And he did.”

Long set up Spence with Radnor rashly reduced to three defenders in the fourth, then Spence dodged a short-stick mid to grow the lead to three. Long capped the scoring at 4:46, his second goal to augment four helpers on a patented curling dart from behind the cage.

Comments

comments

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

11 + 2 =

Recent News

More in Top Story