DeMatha's lacrosse team earned a well deserved victory Thursday over a talented St. Mary's Ryken team that has been highly ranked all season. With their victory, the Stags are set to face the Gonzaga Eagles in the WCAC championship Monday night at the University of Maryland, College Park.
After an early holding penalty against St. Mary's Ryken, the DeMatha first-half scoring barrage began with a goal from midfielder Bobby Bigelow at the 8:50 mark. St. Mary's Ryken was not shaken by the early goal and within only a few minutes responded with a game-tying goal from senior Connor Summer.
DeMatha was successful early on in the face-off battle, which helped them maintain possession of the ball for the majority of the first quarter. After several back-and-forth goals, the Stags began to add to the scoring margin behind an offensive push from DeMatha's leading scorer, Steve Partlow. Partlow, who ended the game with a game-high three goals, scored twice at the end of the first quarter leaving his team up 4-2.
As the whistle rang to begin the second quarter of play, the offensive momentum remained with the Stags. Although, St. Mary's Ryken drastically improved their face-off's by winning 10 of the next 12 in the game, they were not able to keep control of the ball for any significant span of time. DeMatha continued to receive scoring contributions from their young guys, including a flashy, goal from sophomore Greyson Torain.
After goals from four different DeMatha players, the Stags led 8-2 going into the halftime break.
After being able to collect themselves, the St. Mary's Ryken Knights came out at the start of the third quarter with the spark in their offense approach that was missing in the first half. Continuing to win face-offs, the Knights were able to hold possession of the ball despite some troubles with turnovers. Back-to-back goals from Joe Joseph and Daniel Long at the 3:45 and 3:07 marks helped the Knights close in on DeMatha's four-goal lead.
As time in the third quarter ticked down, DeMatha found themselves in penalty trouble after a push in the back call that left them man down. Despite several shot attempts on goal, St. Mary's Ryken was unable to take advantage of the penalty time.
In addition to the DeMatha defenseman, the Stags' goalie Nick Ramsey deserves plenty of recognition for keeping the Knights from making a comeback. The fan-favorite sophomore had a great game that included two eye-opening saves in the second and third quarters.
St. Mary's Ryken, trailing 8-4 as the fourth quarter began, fought hard and fast in attempts to come back against the Stags squad. The Knights' leading scorer for the game, Connor Summers, helped them close the gap with a goal at 11:19.
After many fatigue-ensuing turnovers, both teams were unable to find the net for a span of nearly 10 minutes in the fourth until a goal from DeMatha's Steve Partlow ended the scoreless drought. St. Mary's Ryken scored with 62 seconds left in the game but it would not be enough to keep their season alive. As the shot clock buzzer sounded, DeMatha had defeated St. Mary's Ryken, 9-6.
The loss for the Knights ended a good season for John Sothoron and his team after going 16-5 overall and 6-2 in the WCAC. Although it was a season with many high points, Coach Sothoron was unsatisfied with the way in which their season came to an end.
“We didn't come close to playing to our potential and this was not the day to do that,” Sothoron said. “We lost it in the first half, no doubt. We couldn't catch and throw, and couldn't save a ball. It was a group effort. My hat's off to [DeMatha], they were a hustling team that deserved the win.”
No. 2 seeded DeMatha will face no. 1 seed Gonzaga, Monday, at the University of Maryland for the WCAC Championship game.
Gonzaga, who has been more than solid throughout the season, will take on a DeMatha team who has been getting everything together at just the perfect time. After starting the season off somewhat slow and very young, DeMatha has reached what Coach Scott Morrison said was one of their biggest goals, making the championship game.
After the game Coach Morrison stressed that his team must play together if they want to beat Gonzaga.
“We have to play together if we are going to compete, against anyone, whether it's Gonzaga or St. Mary's Ryken.” Coach Morrison said, laughing at his use of coaching cliches. “We've been young all year and we're starting to mature. We're going to practice for a few days, watch some film, and show up Monday.”