Late in the afternoon Wednesday, things didn't look very good for Georgetown Prep; fortunately for the Hoyas, their IAC lacrosse semifinal against St. Stephen's wouldn't be decided for another twenty-six hours. Prep (18-3, 6-0) overcame both an early two-goal deficit and a day's postponement to defeat the Saints 10-6, punching their ticket to the IAC championship game vs. Landon on Saturday.
The Saints (17-4, 3-4) came out in the first quarter as a team with a purpose. They dominated the early action, jumping all over a Hoya defense that looked a bit complacent in the early going. Junior middie Peter Millie opened the scoring action at the 2:14 mark when he took a Peter Labovich pass and fired it past Hoya goalkeeper Ford Martin. The Saints added another tally at the 5:14 mark, when senior middie Collier Kelley found paydirt, making the score 2-0 in St. Stephen's favor.
The Hoyas clawed back at the 6:37 mark when senior middie Nick Perfido beat Saints' goalkeeper Ben Levy high, cutting the deficit to 2-1. The breakneck pace of play continued, and at the 9:26 mark Saints junior attacker David Solomon took a beautiful Stephen Upton feed and deposited it in the back of the net, stretching St. Stephen's advantage to 3-1.
With a little under a minute remaining in the first, it appeared that the quarter would conclude with that same score, as the Saints were slowly working their possession in Prep territory, holding on for the last shot. But a turnover with :30 remaining sparked a full on rush down the field that concluded with Prep senior attacker Mike Pirone (Denver) firing a shot past Levy from point-blank range with only :21 to play. Pirone was assisted by Pat Glading. The first period ended with SSSA leading Prep 3-2; and then the heavens opened up. After an hour delay, the final decision was made to postpone the remaining three quarters until five o'clock Thursday.
When Thursday came and the action resumed, the change in atmosphere was tangible. This time around, it was the Hoyas who came out as the focused squad, and it reflected on the score sheet. Hoya senior middie Matt Smith tied the game at three on a strike just 27 seconds into the second quarter. He was assisted by junior Bobby Gribbin, who tallied two on the day. At the 7:41 mark, Prep took the lead 4-3 behind Michael Pirone's second goal of the day. Pirone would finish with a game-best four goals, and he spoke about his team's renewed focus on Thursday.
"I just think we came out slow yesterday," said Pirone. "(Today) we came out harder, we did the little things right, won the groundballs, and just played as a team. I think that's what won it for us."
While Pirone directed the scoring effort, Prep's defense tightened up considerably, with the longpoles consistently winning their one-on-one battles. Junior goalie Ford Martin faced only one shot on goal during the second period. The Hoyas added another goal at the 10:24 mark when junior middie Bobby Gribbin snaked past three Saints defenders and unleashed a scorcher that got past Levy. At the conclusion of a very eventful second quarter, Prep led 5-3.
The third quarter brought more of the same as Prep added two goals in the first two minutes of the period. First, at the :16 mark senior middie Matt Smith took a Bobby Gribbin feed and found the back of the net. About a minute later, a costly St. Stephen's defensive end mistake led to Mike Pirone scoring an empty net goal, his third of the day. At the midway point of the quarter, both teams exchanged goals and the score stood 8-4 Prep. At the 9:45 mark, the Hoyas added a shorthanded tally courtesy of Bobby Gribbin's diving effort just outside of the Saints' crease. Prep would take a commanding 9-4 lead into the fourth quarter, knowing that just 12 minutes separated them from a trip to the title game.
At the 2:03 mark in the fourth, Prep stretched their lead to six when Mike Pirone capped off his day by scoring his fourth and final goal of the game. He was assisted by junior attacker Cory Dobyns. Two late goals by the Saints made it closer, but the outcome wasn't ever in doubt and the blowing of the final whistle saw the Hoyas emerging victorious 10-6.
When asked what winning this important game meant to him, Prep head coach Kevin Giblin talked about his leaders. "I'm happy for our seniors, it's something we've been working for all year," said Giblin. "They came together and they played a whole 36 minutes today."
With the win Prep advances to the IAC championship game vs. Landon. The game will be played Saturday at 4:30.
St. Stephen's season will continue as they play in the Virginia Independent State Semifinals today.