FRANCONIA >> Brian McCarry’s path to the goal appeared to be blocked. But after backtracking a few steps, the Upper Dublin junior spun free from a Souderton defender and unleashed an overhand shot that bounced into the top of the net, putting the Cardinals up four with just 10.5 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“It felt great cause I was struggling the first half with my shot,” McCarry said. “So getting the momentum going in the fourth really helped us out.”
After a slow start Friday night, Upper Dublin got its offense working in the third while never allowing the host Indians get their attack on track as the Cardinals kept pace in the Suburban One League American Conference boys lacrosse race with a 7-3 victory.
“We had to turn, change a little bit of a mind set and we let the leaders, the seniors really start taking over,” Upper Dublin coach Patrick Lacon said. “And that’s what we’re about. We had a tough game yesterday (a 12-11 win over Academy of the New Church), tough week and we had to really ride this one and we look at it as a gritty win, as a big, gritty win.”
McCarry had two goals and three assists while Zach Young scored twice — both assisted by McCarry — as the Cardinals (8-6, 5-1 conference) never trailed in winning their fifth straight.
“I think in the first half we came out a little sluggish cause we had a big game yesterday, really hot out,” McCarry said. But in the second half we were just clicking, started communicating more and played better.”
UD jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Young and Bret Rama before the Indians’ Dylan Anderson bounced one in coming around the goal at 4:29 in the first quarter. But with the Cardinals’ Lucas Roselli controlling the faceoff X, Upper Dublin scored five of the next six goals to build a 7-2 advantage after a Young tally at 9:13 in the fourth.
“When you don’t faceoff consistently or you don’t faceoffs hardly at all, you have to be excellent in the other elements of your game,” Souderton coach Mark Princehorn said. “You can’t turn the ball on clears and you can’t throw balls away and you can’t make bad plays offensively. And again, some of the things that have cost us games recently against good teams is shooting ourselves in the foot.
“You can’t make those kind of fundamental and mental mistakes against good teams, you’re not going to win.”
The victory keeps Upper Dublin even with both Springfield-Montco and Wissahickon atop the SOL American standings, with the three teams all sitting 5-1 in conference play. The Cardinals, the defending American champs, were 2-5 overall after falling to Springfield 9-8 in overtime April 9, but since then have won six of their last seven.
“So in the beginning we got off to a tough start, we lost a lot of guys from last season,” McCarry said. “So over the course of the season we’ve been gelling together better, playing together better.”
Souderton (10-5, 4-3) came into the week still in the conference title hunt but an 8-7 loss to Springfield Tuesday followed by Friday’s result now has Big Red putting its focus on preparing for the District 1-3A postseason.
“I talked about this being our last game, being hypothetical about it, as if we were in a playoff situation to try and get them to perform as they need to perform two weeks from now,” Princehorn said. “And I think the approach and doing whatever we need to do to correct some things to get ready for the playoffs is occurring and that’s where we’re at right now.
“But we still need some work and we still need to clean some things up but the minute that Springfield loss, the buzzer and the clock ready zeroes across the board, we kind of flipped the page and we’re on to the playoffs.”
The Indians and Cardinals each have conference matchups 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Souderton, 10th in the district rankings, visits Upper Moreland while Upper Dublin, 14th in the rankings, hosts Abington.
“Our goal is to continue to get better throughout the year,” Lacon said. ”And work on the little things and the little things that mean that most from inside the locker room to inside the community and it carries onto the field.”
After leading 2-1 at the end of the first quarter, Upper Dublin extended its lead just before halftime, McCarry collecting the second quarter’s lone tally by driving in and putting a ball into the top of the net at 1:04.
Jason Scott’s goal put the Cardinals up 4-1 at 10:38 in the third before Brock Azeff scooped up a rebound and scored to pull the Indians within two at 7:58.
Upper Dublin, however, doubled its advantage with two goals in the quarter’s final minute. Roselli cut to the middle from the left side and ripped an overhand shot into the net at 51.9 seconds while McCarry bounced in his second goal of the net at 10.5 seconds.
“Whereas our defense may have played well, you can’t even have a lull even for half of a quarter,” Princehorn said. “And they got some good, high-percentage shots off off some hard dodges then they won the faceoff, killed some clock and did the same thing. And I don’t think our offense hardly touched the ball in the third quarter and when we did we threw it away and gave it right back to them.”
McCarry found Young in front of the net to give UD its biggest lead at 7-2 with 9:13 remaining. Matt Rauch’s goal at 51.8 seconds made the final margin four.
UPPER DUBLIN 7, SOUDERTON 3
Upper Dublin 2 1 3 1 — 7
Souderton 1 0 1 1 — 3
Upper Dublin Goals-Assists: Brian McCarry 2-3; Zach Young 2-0; Bret Rama 1-0; Lucas Roselli 1-0; Jason Scott 1-0.
Souderton Goals-Assists: Brock Azeff 1-0; Dylan Anderson 1-0; Matt Rauch 1-0.