WHITEMARSH >> It was a game North Penn’s lacrosse team seemed to have under control.
That is, until the final quarter.
The Knights built a five-goal lead, then had to hold on for dear life in the closing minutes as they used four goals by Reece Udinski and a strong defensive effort to subdue host Plymouth Whitemarsh, 8-6, in a non-conference matchup Wednesday afternoon at PW’s Victory Fields.
North Penn built a 4-1 halftime lead and actually led 7-2 as late as the second half of the third quarter, but the Colonials streaked back, got three fourth-quarter goals from Shane Sullivan and pulled within 7-6 before a Udinski goal thwarted the comeback.
“PW went on a heckuva run there in the second half,” said North Penn head coach Rick Smith, “but we got a couple of big stops — one, on that man-down situation, and our goaltender, Matt Rinck, was terrific between the pipes.”
The Knights began the game as if they’d never have to concern themselves with fourth-quarter heroics.
Udinski scored three first-quarter goals, the Knights led, 4-1, after one and everything was hunky dory.
The contest remained at 4-1 at the half, and the Knights actually increased their lead to 6-1 and then 7-2 late in the third.
But the Colonials forgot they were supposed to lie down, and after pulling within 7-3 late in the third, used the aforementioned three goals from Sullivan to pull within 7-6 with 4:24 left.
The Knights hung on, however, mostly behind the play of their defense and the play of Rinck, who made a 10-bell save on Alex Savarese with just over a minute left and the Knights leading by two.
They led by two because of a goal by Udinski, who came out from behind the Knights net and slipped a shot just past the reach of the Colonials netminder to give the Knights a desperate dose of insurance.
“When the game’s on the line, I want the ball in my hands,” Udinski said. “Then I just try and make the best play that I can.”
The Colonials huffed and puffed down the stretch, but couldn’t get the game back they’d been chasing since the first quarter.
“We came out a little flat in the first quarter, and I don’t know why,” said PW head coach Bryan Gregg. “We weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunities we had early.
“We we got down, we just kept telling our guys, ‘One goal at a time, one goal at a time,’ but we gave them too much early and we couldn’t get it back.”
By game’s end, the Knights had survived, but Smith wasn’t about to pass out celebratory praise.
“Friday is our first league game, against Neshaminy, so we’re going to have to get ready for that.
“PW is a heckuva team. Their off-ball movement was impressive, and they never gave up.
“But we have to play better than we did today. We won, but we didn’t make it easy on ourselves.”
Top Photo: North Penns Nick Kiem takes a shot on goal during the Knights’ game against Plymouth Whitemarsh on Wednesday, April 5, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)