District 1 Class 3A Boys Lacrosse: Upon icing championship, Springfield suddenly forced to go ‘next man up’

WEST GOSHEN — Tyler Gougler’s fourth goal was the one that sealed Springfield’s 10-8 win over Radnor in the District 1 Class 3A title game Wednesday at West Chester East High School.

Gougler made a shifty move from behind the cage and sent a quick shot beyond the reach of Radnor goalie Nick DeCain with 1:39 to play. Pure elation ensued on the Springfield bench. Gougler ran over to celebrate with faceoff master Lucas Aaron, but fell to the turf, clutching a knee.

When the game was final, Gougler hobbled off the sideline with a bag of ice wrapped securely around his knee to join the Cougars in their well-earned celebration.

He was aided by two Springfield coaches for the post-game medal ceremony. Moments later he was carted off the field to receive more medical treatment.

Springfield’s Tyler Gougler sends what became the winning goal in the fourth quarter as the Cougars defeated Radnor for the District 1 Class 3A title Wednesday night at West Chester East.(Pete Bannan – MediaNews Group)

Everything about Springfield’s championship win felt somewhat subdued as players, coaches and fans kept Gougler in their hearts.

“We’re praying that Tyler will be OK,” said Patrick Flaherty, who scored three goals. “If he’s not we know we have to go next-man-up and go from there. I know he will be the first one cheering for us if he is out.”

Sean Donaldson scored with 9:45 left to break a 7-7 tie, snapping a string of three straight goals by Radnor. Cooper Mueller pulled Radnor even 59 seconds into the period.

“I have full faith in our team, no matter what,” Donaldson said. “We practice these situations where the game is close. It’s just the grit and the heart that we have. I have full trust in my teammates that in a close game like that, they are going to come through.”

The Cougars’ game-winning goal came after goalie Jackson Kennedy (four saves) helped disrupt a play behind the net, forcing a turnover. Springfield took its time and let Gougler go to work, a maestro with the stick. He received a clean pass from Aidan Kreydt and made his move, beating DeCain, who earlier in the period made two incredible saves back to back to keep the game tied.

“Ty’s a huge asset to the team, our best attacking player and one of the best goal scorers,” Donaldson said. “Losing him, and it depends on the injuries, I know it will just bring this team closer than it already is.”

A teary-eyed Tom Lemiuex was processing what could be a very serious injury to his star player. But he sought to praise every one of his players, who overcame the odds and defeated the No. 1 seed in District 1 and the 16th-ranked team in the nation, according to USA Lacrosse.

“The effort today,” he said. “It wasn’t the cleanest game by any means, but I just couldn’t be more proud of how hard our kids compete, all of them. There were a number of mistakes, including myself, I had a terrible timeout in the third quarter. But the way they fight and the heart they show, it leaves me speechless. That’s an unbelievable (Radnor) team. They have a number of all-everything players and they are the top notch. I think our kids just fought and fought.”

Springfield avenged a 6-5 loss to the Raptors during the regular season to win its first District 1 title since 2021.

“We never really talk about goals, we talk about the game in front of it and taking it one step at a time and having a good practice,” Lemieux said. “We never, ever talk about long-term goals. I know it’s cliche, but we just try to get better every day. And I think our kids  bought into that and worked really hard and have the discipline. You know, the spring is tough. There’s a lot of distractions that could easily sway a team from doing the right thing. And I think because we’re so close, it kind of keeps us in check and they stick by each other no matter what happens.”

Gougler scored two goals in the second half to help the Cougars erase a 3-1 deficit.  Flaherty assisted on the second goal that put Springfield ahead 4-3 with 17 seconds to go before intermission.

Radnor’s Mason Montrella tied the game at 4-4 90 seconds into the third period. Montrella finished with a hat trick for the Raptors. Springfield responded with three goals in a row, one by Jimmy Kennedy and two by Flaherty, and went into the final quarter with a 7-4 advantage.

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