FRANCONIA >> Tyson Bui had to laugh when the oddity of a game-winning goal being scored with nearly 13 minutes left in a lacrosse game.
However, thanks to his goal in the final minute of the third quarter and some involved defense for the entire fourth quarter, that’s what Bui did Tuesday night. The midfielder, who also plays plenty on the defensive end, and the No. 11 Indians spent a lot of time holding their ground in the second half against No. 22 Hatboro-Horsham but aside from one early score, didn’t give up much of anything.
Thanks to their willingness to grind out defensive possessions, the Indians outlasted the Hatters 7-6 in the opening round of the District 1-3A boys’ lacrosse playoffs.
“We knew we weren’t playing our best, but it’s the playoffs, you just have to grind,” Bui said. “A win’s a win, we wanted to open it up a little bit more but it’s just grit. It’s why we train the offseason so hard so when we come into this kind of second half, we just work hard.”
The second half featured just two total goals, an extraordinarily low number on its own and one that stood out even more following a back-and-forth first half that looked primed to continue after the break. Souderton hasn’t had a lot of trouble scoring goals for the most part this season, the hosts jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead off finishes by John Martin Vince and Sean Landis.
However that lead didn’t stick for too long as the Hatters, making their first postseason showing in five years, came back with two goals a minute apart. Senior David Benjamin, who led HH with a hat trick, scored his first off a nice feed by Max Mariano then played set-up out of a timeout, turning a quick clear off the restart into an assist for Alex Cerminara.
Cerminara scored a nice solo goal early in the second quarter, giving the visitors their only lead at 3-2. The end result didn’t play out the way they wanted, but the Hatters had plenty to be proud of both in their performance Tuesday and in their season overall.
“I think if we had a couple more minutes, we would have won it, but looking at the beginning of the season we weren’t sure where this season was going to go,” Benjamin said. “I’m really proud of the whole group of guys. We defied all odds making it to the playoffs for the first time in five years, I’m proud of group and excited to see what they do.”
Benjamin was really good in the second quarter, scoring two goals that gave the Hatters a spark going into the break after Souderton scored three unanswered to regain the lead after Cerminara’s long-range rip. His second goal in particular was terrific, the senior facing the brunt of a juiced-up Souderton defense and finishing a take while going to ground and eating a bit of contact on the way down.
That was also a good indicator of how tough goals were to find on Tuesday. HH goalie Brendan Kim and Souderton stopper Matt Malaga were both on their game, making some tough stops and timely interjections from first to last whistle and the defensive units in front of them were locked in as well.
Hatboro-Horsham senior long pole Will McCabe had four caused turnovers and fellow poles Brett Yorko and Tommy Pedicone contained the elusive Souderton attackers. On the other end, poles Jackson Hirschmann, Max Ryon and Ryan Rothenberger and LSM Sean Ryon had their hands full, especially in the second half.
“It was important for everyone to stay within our plan,” Max Ryon, a freshman, said. “Everyone had to constantly be talking and communicating, any time we needed a slide or someone’s moving, we needed to communicate that. We just had to get each other through every single play and stick to our systems.”
Mariano had three assists, the last coming when he hit Shane Phillips on a trailing cut right down the lane for a goal that tied the score 6-6 with 11:13 left in the third quarter. That was all the Hatters would get the rest of the night thanks to a gutsy effort from Souderton’s defense, despite a heavily skewed time of possession for the visitors in the quarter.
Bui chalked it up to a mixture of communication, depth of guys who can step on the field and defend, willingness to do the work and some unselfishness from mids and attackers willing to step over the halfway line and grind a bit when they saw a teammate too tired to keep going. It also helped that when they got a chance, the Indians took it.
A turnover by the Hatters in the final minute of the quarter gave Souderton an opportunity to restart quickly, leading to Vince slipping a pass to Bui who ripped the one-timer under the bar for the eventual game-winner.
“It’s knowing when you have the numbers and when to push it,” Bui said. “It was really important to get that goal and switch the momentum back going our way.
“I knew their goalie was really good, we knew coming in he was good, so I told myself at halftime just stop thinking and shoot the ball like I know how to shoot. I take plenty of reps so at some point, you have to take everything you know about a goalie, throw it out the window and be confident in what you do.”
While the Hatters were frustrated by Souderton’s defense in the fourth quarter, they kept battling any time they lost the ball, always seeking the next chance to find a tying score. Even when the final horn sounded, the players took the field to go get their teammates with heads up and Benjamin said he couldn’t have asked for anything more, especially with the amount of growth he saw in the team in their time together.
“We talked a lot before the game about playing as a family,” Benjamin said. “We had all the boys read an article by Marc Poust, he’s an HH alum, a really great goalie who played at Stevenson, which was all about family. I think that helped connect us all together.”
Souderton’s defense had some big plays throughout the fourth, one crucial turnover coming with about nine minutes left just after HH called a timeout. Short-stick defensive mid Logan Wrubel aggressively pressured the dangerous Cerminara out on the edge, with Max Ryon coming over in support and the duo forcing an errant pass that hit off Ryon that allowed the freshman to collect the loose ball and clear it.
The Indians move on to face No. 6 Wissahickon on Thursday. Souderton was one of just two teams to beat the Trojans this year, taking down the SOL American champs 8-6 on April 22 but Bui and Ryon agreed the Indians will need to be much sharper than they were Tuesday to try and pull that off again.
“We understood what we needed to do,” Ryon said. “Everyone was ready for the game. If we had issues, we were able to talk through them and we communicated through the plays to continue making good plays.”
Souderton 7, Hatboro-Horsham 6
SOUDERTON 2 4 1 0 – 7
HATBORO-HORSHAM 2 3 1 0 – 6
Goals-Assists: S – John Martin Vince 2-2, Sean Landis 2-0, Seth Grossman 1-1, Ty Quintois 1-0, Tyson Bui 1-0; HH – David Benjamin 3-1, Alex Cerminara 2-0, Shane Phillips 1-0, Max Mariano 0-3