For the second straight year, it looked like Gonzaga's varsity lacrosse team was going to lose in the championship game. But for the second straight year, Gonzaga scored the final five goals of the game to win the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) title. The Eagles rallied from being down 8-5 in the second half to defeat Good Counsel, 10-8.
Despite trailing 2-0 after the first quarter and 8-5 less than five minutes into the third, Gonzaga managed to rally twice to stay even with Good Counsel. David Planning (Ohio State) scored his second goal of the game with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter to put an end to five straight goals by Good Counsel. The Falcons went from being down 5-3 to ahead by three goals in just under seven minutes of play, but Gonzaga's five-goal rally in the second half would prove to be the difference.
"I did not expect this," Gonzaga coach Casey O'Neill said. "I didn’t expect us to get 10 goals. That didn’t come easy. I didn’t expect them to get eight. We knew the game would be won in transition, and early on we were terrible in transition."
O'Neill said the team was taken back by their slow start, but they were able to pull it together as the game progressed.
"In the beginning we were a little in shock that we were shutout in the first quarter, but at halftime I had to tell them that we were playing an amazing defensive team, and we still scored five goals in the second quarter."
Planning, who scored nearly 40 goals this season, led the charge once again when he found attackman Sean Herman near the goal. The 6-foot-4 senior and Rockville native brought the Eagles within one, and Kyle Bruun (Saint Joseph's) scored his second goal of the game six minutes later to tie the game.
"The one thing we knew is that we had guys with experience," O'Neill said. "That’s the one thing with this game. Everything moves so fast. The girls game ends, time to stretch, time to get into it, and everything smells different, the look is different, the stans have 2,000 to 3,000 people in it, and it just goes."
With 9:40 left in regulation and both teams fighting for the league title, it was Gonzaga who controlled the pace. And just 76 seconds after Bruun tied the game, junior Matt Bowman scored the eventual game-winner. Sophomore Matt Borda added the 10th and final goal from behind his own net as the ball traveled the length of the field in front of a ecstatic and shocked Gonzaga crowd.
According to Coach O'Neill, the team played just as hard as they have all season.
"What did I tell my kids? Our slogan. Never give up. Keep moving the ball. Find the matchups we like and believe in each other, and all 40 guys on the sideline did that."
The Eagles were led defensively by sophomore goalie Timmy Farrell (6 saves).
Good Counsel had five different players score in the loss. Nick Buonomo, Graham Dabbs and Nolan Fillet all scored two goals while Brendan Durkin and Luke Poulos added one apiece.
--Video interviews by Paul Buckley