Upper Dublin explodes late, rolls past Wissahickon

UPPER DUBLIN — A funny thing happened en route to Upper Dublin High’s rout of rival Wissahickon in Monday afternoon’s Suburban One League American Conference showdown.

The Cardinals did not put the Trojans away.

Sure, the Cardinals came away with a 14-7 victory.

But at the start of the fourth quarter the host Cardinals led by only three goals after enjoying a number of six-goal leads throughout the first half.

The Trojans comeback, which included holding Upper Dublin scoreless in the third quarter, might have turned into a monumental upset if Wissahickon had taken advantage of a 2:00 man-up situation late in the third quarter.

But the Cardinals righted the ship just in time, then scored on their first four shots of the fourth quarter to put the contest into the win column.

“They’re a great team,’ said Trojans first-year head coach Dan Layfield. “But we messed up a lot. We messed up three man-up situations that really hurt us.

“We executed our game plan, and we got it to 9-6, then we threw away three man-up situations.’

“Any time you play Wissahickon, you know they’re going to play hard,’ said Cardinals head coach J.P. Banks. “We made some errors and they were opportunistic and capitalized on them.’

Early on, that wasn’t the case.

The Trojans outshot the Cardinals, 9-7, in the first quarter. But Upper Dublin made its shots count, and a pair of goals by Evan Scott and another by Michael Mullen had the home team on top, 3-0.

“We had a lot of looks in the first quarter that we didn’t finish,’ Layfield said. “That’s why. when we got behind, 9-3, we were still confident.

“We had confidence we could get those looks again.’

Meanwhile, the Cardinals were finishing their chances. And when Max Winebrake polished off a four-goals-in-four-shots run early in the second quarter, Upper Dublin was in command, 7-1.

And even though the Trojans would score two of the half’s last three goals to pull within 9-4 at the break, there didn’t appear to be much reason for concern on the Upper Dublin sidelines.

But the third period was a different story.

In a strong defensive period for both sides, the Trojans scored the only two goals.

The Cardinals had good chances, but failed to capitalize. And suddenly, it was a game.

“We let our guard down, and we were our own worst enemy,’ Mullen said. “We had to settle down, take a step back and play our game.

“And it worked out.’

It worked out because the Trojans failed to score on a full 2:00 man-up situtation which came as Eric Kaufman scored to pull the visitors to within 9-6, with 2:37 left in the quarter. Upper Dublin’s Nick Vernacchio was called for a cross check, and locked in for the next 2:00, but the Trojans lost the ball and watched helplessly as the Cardinals ran off most of the penalty time.

That golden opportunity foiled, the Cardinals were able to get back their swagger. And soon, behind two goals from Mullen and single tallies from Conor Wall and Scott, the Upper Dublin lead was 13-6 and the comeback try was dead in its tracks.

“This team fights,’ Layfield said. “By the fourth quarter, we felt we had the momentum. But we couldn’t capitalze on those man-ups.’

“Any time we play Wissahickon we’re happy to get off the field with a win,’ Banks said. “With us, we’re still a work in progress and we’re trying to get better each time out.’

With nationally ranked Haverford School on tap for Wednesday, the Cardinals are looking forward to the challenge.

“This was good today, getting a rivalry game going into playing Haverford,’ Banks said. “We feel fortunate to be getting the opportunity to play a great team like Haverford.’

LAXNOTES: Michael Sowers led Upper Dublin with one goal and eight assists, while Mullen had four goals and two assists and Scott had three goals. Max Winebrake added two tallies. … For Wissahickon, Kaufman had three goals and an assist, John Esposito had two goals and John Carrozza had a goal and an assist. … Upper Dublin outshot Wissahickon, 30-25 … Upper Dublin goalkeeper Bobby McPeake had seven saves, while Trojans netminder Jack Myers had five.

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