Haverford, PA – The Haverford College Black Squirrels came back from a two-goal deficit with back-to-back goals :09 apart in the last two minutes to force overtime. They needed overtime to top the fourth ranked Lynchburg Hornets. Lynchburg senior goalie Garrett Curran came up with a save in the extra period, but it wasn't enough. Haverford was led by senior Mike Distler with seven points (3g, 4a), as well as four point efforts from senior Dean Granoff (3g, 1a) and sophomore Brian Fleishacker (4g). Lynchburg was led by senior All-American Ryan Cranston (3g, 2a) and junior Michael Mundorf (1g, 3a).
One of the premier match-ups in Division III was forced to play for most of the first half in monsoon-like conditions, much like most games in the Baltimore-New York part line. The Lynchburg Hornets came in ranked fourth in the country in the coaches poll after a slim one-goal loss to Salisbury and a convincing win over Ohio Wesleyan. The Haverford Black Squirrels came in ranked 15th in the lax.com pre-season poll. The two teams opened up last year with a 14-9 Lynchburg win. This year’s game took it to another level.
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the tournament implications that South region games bring, but these two teams played with passion today. The weather, of course, contributed to some sloppiness throughout the game. Lynchburg jumped out early to a 2-0 lead. A theme emerged as Haverford quickly tied it up. There would be five ties in the second half alone. However, Haverford never possessed the lead until the game winning goal in overtime by senior Dean Granoff. Lynchburg could never get more than a two goal lead. And both teams combined for an exciting nine goal fourth quarter.
It’s unfortunate that the referees had to play a large part in one of the best college lacrosse games of the year. Haverford got the short end of the stick in terms of amount (ten penalties for 7:00), while Lynchburg wasn’t far off (six penalties for 6:30). Not that the refs favored one team over the other by any means, they were consistent in what they chose to call and not call, unfortunately, they often seemed to pick the wrong things.
After a questionable call late in the fourth quarter against Haverford, they decided to call a mouthpiece violation on Lynchburg and award possession right back to Haverford. This is a perfectly legal call, but one of those that the refs often don’t look for late in a one-goal game between two of the top teams in the country. Late in the first half, the game started to resemble an NLL game as players from both teams took shots at each other and the game got a bit out-of-hand. The no-calls allowed this to escalate.
To the refs’ credit late in the third quarter they did make a correct call on a rarely seen play. Haverford freshman Jason Leeds was driving to his right and got a shot off. As he shot he was hit. In the process of the follow-through his stick snapped. (This sequence could be seen from picture 93 on.) At first the goal was allowed by one ref and Haverford celebrated. Lynchburg goalie Garrett Curran grabbed the head of the stick, which had landed near the crease, and pleaded their case. After a long deliberation between all three refs, they came to the ruling (correctly) that the goal should not have been allowed.
As NCAA rules state, (you can find them here: http://www.ncaa.org/library/rules/2008/2008_m_lacrosse_rules.pdf) “Rule 4, Section 9 says “Under the following conditions, a goal shall be disallowed if the head of the shooter’s crosse comes off during the shot or the follow-through. In this case, award the ball to the defensive team.”
Late in the game, Lynchburg possessed a two-goal lead. Haverford senior defenseman Joel Censer stripped 2nd team All-American Ryan Cranston behind the GLE. Haverford managed to clear it and got it to sophomore midfielder Andrew Kim who dodged hard to his right, rolled back to his left and ripped a lefty shot past Curran. Kim’s goal cut the lead to 13-12 Lynchburg with just over a minute to play. Following Kim’s goal, Lynchburg requested a stick check on Haverford’s freshman defenseman Scott Kelley. One would think that due to the conditions, nearly every players’ stick would have an enlarged pocket. A flag was thrown for Kelley’s stick. Oddly it had nothing to do with his pocket depth. Instead, the freshman was awarded a penalty with 1:27 left in a one-goal game against the fourth ranked team in the country because the excess of his shooting strings that hung from his stick were too long. (picture 169)
Heading to the NCAA rule book, Rule 1, Section 19 states “Any strings or leathers used to attach the pocket to the crosse are limited to a hanging length of 2 inches. The use of pull strings to alter the depth of the pocket is illegal.” This was presumably started after the problem a couple of seasons ago with the prevalence of pull strings. Kelley however just had excess hockey lace. The rulebook goes on to give an example, “Player A1 has strings on his crosse that have a hanging length greater than 2 inches. Ruling: Officials shall instruct A1 to cut the strings to the proper length. If A1 does not, a one-minute, nonreleasable penalty shall be assessed.” Kelley was not given the option to cut his shooting strings, but instead directly awarded a one-minute nonreleasable penalty with his team down a goal with just over a minute left in what could be one of the program’s greatest upsets ever.
In retaliation, Haverford decided to call a stick check on one of Lynchburg’s face-off men, Jeff Schwartz. Allegedly Schwartz heard this going on and was seen switching his stick to one that was presumably not illegal. (Going back and looking at pictures is inconclusive because the stick – head and shaft – he used earlier in the game appeared to be the same model they checked.) Anyway, the alleged switch turned out to work in Haverford’s favor. The ball would not fall out of Schwartz’ stick. This infraction was good enough for a three minute non-releasable penalty.
Kim scored again shortly after the penalty trade-off in the 5-on-5 with 1:14 left in the game. Neither team could break the tie in regulation. Both teams traded possessions in the overtime before Mike Distler found Dean Granoff with 1:07 left who finished the winning goal.
Haverford held the edge at the face-off circle going 16-for-27 as junior Peter Hannapel returned to complement freshman Kiley Norton.
Lynchburg’s Cranston showed numerous times why he is one of the best around. The 6’5” middie showcased his ability to split dodge to create shots, which he did successfully on a number of occasions. Lynchburg attackman Michael Mundorf had a highlight reel goal late for the Hornets. He shook free of his defender with the stick in his right hand coming down the side. With no angle, he managed to put a behind-the-back shot in that broke a 10-10 tie. Short-stick d-middie Eddie Bilinkas certainly had his work cut out for him today. It seemed that Haverford was inverting their shortsticks on nearly every possession. More often than not they were dodging against Bilinkas. I’m not sure how many times they were successful, but Bilinkas did as good a job as you can expect from a shortstick in that situation, playing pretty tough defense. Garrett Curran finished with 11 saves on 25 shots on goal and looked solid in the net.
There were a few things that Lynchburg will need to fix to get back on track before the ODAC starts. For starters, Lynchburg certainly had their opportunities, but only successfully clearing the ball 15 out of 25 times won’t cut it. Some credit can be given to the weather and Haverford’s riding, but overall, they’ll need to get better there. Also, 1-for-10 on man-up is something that sticks out that they need to improve on. On the season, they’re just 8-for-30, but in their two losses (Salisbury and Haverford), they’re a combined 1-for-15 on man-up opportunities.
The time of possession seemed to be largely in Haverford’s favor, probably partly due to game plan to slow the game down since Lynchburg has some depth on the offensive side of the field. But the Black Squirrels proved that they can run with some of the top teams, where depth is supposed to be the issue. Last year, Haverford used a ball-control offense and solid defense to beat then #2 Gettysburg, 6-5. This year they managed to outrun Lynchburg in an overtime win in a game that’s probably more catered towards Lynchburg’s style of play.
Lynchburg has a couple of games to work out the kinks before they take on Villa Julie at home. Haverford has a rematch with Gettysburg on Saturday after they were on the winning and losing side of one-goal games with the Bullets last year.
|Mike Distler||(3, 4)|
|Brian Fleishhacker||(4, 0)|
|Dean Granoff||(3, 1)|
|Andrew Kim||(3, 0)|
|Max Hjelm||(1, 1)|
|Peter Hannapel||(0, 1)|
|Alex Guy||(0, 1)|
|Jake Mendlinger||11 (0.458)|