Tower Hill School boys lacrosse coach Brad duPont figured the odds favored his No. 3 seed Hillers when they went to a second overtime against No. 1 seed Salesianum School in the Delaware High School Boys’ Lacrosse State Tournament championship.
That is because duPont and the rest of the Tower Hill team knew they could count on midfield Ripley Nielsen to keep winning face offs, allowing the Hillers to set up shots in the two sudden-death overtime periods of the boys’ lacrosse state championship held Saturday, May 29 at Caravel Academy’s Bob Peoples Stadium.
One of them was going to eventually find the back of the net, duPont said.
After Tower Hill took its last time out, assistant coach Dan Deckelbaum drew up a play for the boys and they executed, duPont said.
Hillers attack Chas Robino took the ball to the top, dodging the wing as fellow attack Michael Pettit set up a pick. When Robino beat his man, he saw Pettit wide open to the right 15 yards away and passed him the ball.
Pettit shot the ball past Sallies goalie Daniel Rodgers from 10 yards out, and the Tower Hill bench as well as several student fans rushed onto the field to celebrate.
The Hillers (14-3) were state champions, avenging their 13-4 stomping at the hands of Salesianum (14-3) in the 2009 championship. It was their second title, with the first coming in 2005.
Tower Hill struck first blood in the game when Pettit scored unassisted at the 8:41 mark of the first quarter.
Sallies would finally answer in the second quarter when attack William Cowan assisted Dillon Walker at the 8:32 mark to forge a 1-1 tie at the half.
Sallies came out firing in the third quarter as Blundin scored consecutive goals, both assisted by Walker, less than two minutes apart. Then, midfield Andrew Salvitti scored unassisted to give the Sals a 4-1 lead at end the third quarter.
Things were looking good for the Sals until Tower Hill’s Pettit scored on an assist by midfield Blaise Taylor to bring the Hillers within 4-2.
“I looked up at the clock and there were eight minutes left – the same time we turned it around against Cape Henlopen in the semifinals,” said senior defenseman Patrick “Trip” Ashley, of Wilmington. “I looked at [goalie Demetrius Murray] and the other defenders and said, ‘This is when we did it last game. Let’s do it again today.’”
Five minutes later, with his team still up two goals, Sallies coach Bob Healy told his troops they were “three minutes from a state championship” as they broke out of a time out.
But Tower Hill’s Robino spoiled that message when he scored, unassisted, at the 1:38 mark to bring the Hillers within 4-3. Midfield Jake Graham then tied the game up with 12 seconds left.
Page 2 of 2 - “They realized they hadn’t nothing to lose,” duPont said. “Sallies thumped us good in the championship last year. The sun came up the next day and I think we didn’t feel any pressure on us.
“All we had to do was play hard to win and not play hard to avoid making mistakes,” he said. “Any errors we made were errors of commission, not errors of omission and being tentative.”