Haverford, PA - The #8 Cabrini Cavaliers knocked off the #6 Haverford College Black Squirrels. Cabrini was paced by sophomore Casey Grugan and freshman Paul Skulski who both had two goals and two assists. Haverford was led by senior Mike Distler and freshman Jason Leeds with three points apiece. The difference in the game came as Cabrini capitalized on man-up opportunities, going 5-for-7 on the day with an extra man.
Haverford got the scoring started pretty quickly into the game. Defenseman Grant Firestone found Brian Fleishacker who found the back of the net just :18 in. Firestone wound up with two assists on the day, giving him nine points on the season.
Cabrini would knot the game three minutes later on a Paul Skulski to Matt McKinney connection before the penalty flags started flying. Of the 12 overall goals scored in the first half, six of them were man-up and one was man-down. Cabrini was a perfect 5-for-5 in the first half on man-up opportunities. Haverford held a 3-2 lead for the last time at the end of first. Three straight goals started in the second started to give Cabrini the momentum they needed. Haverford’s Mike Distler managed to squeeze a man-down goal after a three goal Cabrini run for a little damage control. Two more man-up goals by Cabrini and another Distler goal sent the game into the half at 7-5 Cabrini.
“We just talked about intensity. Our play between the boxes I thought was key, just making aggressive plays,” said Cabrini head coach Steve Colfer.
“We play loose, we play aggressive. A couple of times early, we made the upfield plays trying to get groundballs and Haverford’s attackmen leapt on us and got some transition. That was tough. I thought between the boxes we did a better job in the second half in getting those looseballs and really getting on it. I thought that was really the difference. That got the ball to our offense and we were able to settle down a little bit and play with a little bit more poise, another thing we talk about on offense and I thought we did that.”
Two Matt McKinney goals in the third quarter proved to be all the scoring that Cabrini would need. The Cavaliers weathered a run by Haverford to start the fourth quarter when the Black Squirrels cut the lead to 9-7. Cabrini answered with two goals of their own to stretch the lead back to four. An Andrew Kim goal with 5:48 remaining gave Haverford some life. Cabrini cruised to the 13-8 victory and added two more late goals as Haverford started pressuring out to try to get the ball back.
This was an important game for both teams as it gives a decent gauge of where they stand heading towards the NCAA tournament. To be fair, Cabrini probably had a bit more time to prepare and treat it like a playoff game. Since losing to Cortland on March 29th, the Cavaliers have had a couple of weeks of mopping up on their Pennsylvania Athletic Conference opponents. The late Haverford game gives them a chance to stay up to speed for some of the competition they can expect to play come NCAA tournament time.
“Haverford’s tough, they’re just so tough and I tell Murph [Haverford head coach Mike Murphy] that all the time,” said Colfer.
“This team is just so much different than it was 10 years ago 15 years ago. The program is solid top-to-bottom and they’re so well coached. They’re a tough match-up because you’ve got to prepare for a lot of things they throw at you. The last two days we treated it like an NCAA playoff game. We really did, the way we scouted them and prepared for it. Our practice plan and everything we did, the film prep, was really just like an NCAA tournament game. Win or lose, I thought it was going to be a good experience for our kids. If we’re fortunate enough to get back to the tournament, they’d have this experience and I thought our kids answered the bell.”
“It’s important for us to continue to work hard. This is why this game is so important for us, because it’s a late season big-time match-up, where the last couple years we didn’t get that. We play all our tough teams in March, in April we’d go back and play some of those still developing programs and then have to get back up for Ithaca and Gettysburg and Salisbury and they’re just at fifth gear and we’re in third gear. But we can play in that gear, it just takes too long, they’re up four or five to nothing and then we’re trying to get up to their speed. I think that’s why I love this game and we’re going to keep playing this game. I think it helps us and its great for local Philly college lacrosse, it’s going to be a good rivalry,” said Colfer.
For Haverford, they don’t have quite the same luxury of treating this game for as much as it could be worth. With the uber competitive Centennial, every game is practically an NCAA tournament game for them. Their goal is still to win the Centennial Conference playoffs, that is the only guarantee into the NCAAs. If things stay the way they are now and everyone ranked higher than Haverford wins their conference, Haverford would be the second at-large bid into the NCAAs (whoever doesn’t win the Centennial between Washington and Gettysburg would be the first). However, if they can take care of business by winning at least one of their remaining two games and beat either McDaniel or Swarthmore then they’ll be in the Centennial Conference playoffs again and will have a shot at revenge after earlier losses to Gettysburg and Washington.
The win today should serve as a nice reminder for Cabrini that, as Colfer preaches, they have the ability to play at the upper level. After a disappointing loss to Cortland, this win should give them some confidence.
“Cortland’s a tough place to play. It’s cold. A lot of mental things that you have to get over, and our kids didn’t do it. But that’s why we play it, because if you’re ever going to get into that next level as a program that we’re trying to get to, you have to go on the road and play in venues like that and play out-of-region. We haven’t played well up at Cortland yet, but we’re going to keep trying, we just can’t get over the hump,” said Colfer.
“You think about it, we played Roanoke on the road, Hampden-Sydney on the road, Widener on the road, Haverford on the road, Cortland on the road, we’ve been on the road a lot this year at some tough venues. But Widener always plays us tough and I think that’s to their credit, but we found a way to win. I told them in the locker room, good teams find a way to win even when they don’t playing very well.”
“Now you’re getting everyone’s best efforts. Once you get up in those rankings, now teams are coming after to you and our kids have to adjust to that. I think our kids are doing that, they’re developing. The only disappointment so far, I didn’t know if we’d win every game obviously, you never expect that. I didn’t think we’d get blown out and I was disappointed in the Cortland loss. It was 13-4, but we were never really in that game. We played on our heels all day.”
|Mike Distler||(2, 1)|
|Jason Leeds||(1, 2)|
|Brian Fleishhacker||(3, 0)|
|Grant Firestone||(0, 2)|
|Andrew Kim||(1, 0)|
|Max Hjelm||(1, 0)|
|Jake Mendlinger||10 (0.435)|