Well, I didn’t see this one coming.
Not the result . . . the way the game was played.
It was a pretty ugly game to watch.
These two teams have played some beautiful games the last few years. Lots of top end talent . . . OT . . . rhythm and flow. The ball not hitting the ground. Fast breakouts and precision passing. Great ground ball play.
All of that took a vacation last night.
Frankly this was simply Jupiter outworking SA last night. Whether there was a hangover from the Boys’ Latin game, the affect of some sickness, or whatever, Jupiter outworked SA last night. Plain and simple.
While preparing for this article I was intrigued by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the character Puck in particular. So I read up on him a little and found some interesting tidbits.
For those who are new to Shakespeare’s mirthful character: “Puck is a clever, mischievous elf, sprite or jester that personifies the wise knave. In the play, Shakespeare introduces Puck as the “shrewd and knavish sprite” and “that merry wanderer of the night”; he is a jester to Oberon, the fairy king. (Wikipedia)
Puck utilized the nectar of a flower to influence events and if you know the whole story you know I am kind of picking and choosing here but if you saw the game you get what I am referring to. As if there was a nectar drizzle before the game from above.
Last night’s game had a certain Puckish feel to it . . . certainly the last 4 minutes were almost divinely designed.
If you were there to watch you saw a game that could not be written as a plot, it would not be green-lighted by a movie studio as reasonable.
It was everything the previous SA-Jupiter games were not. It was physical, far more than any other game these two have played for a long time. It was undisciplined at times when it came to positioning. Nothing designates that more than the loose ball scrambles. These teams have a history of long poles with great ground ball skills. There were at least four times where the loose ball scrum encompassed TEN players. These two teams could go a whole season without that happening again.
SA’s shooting was awful in the first half. Some shots missed the cage by at least 10 feet.
Dropped passes were all over the place.
The nectar of love being used more nefariously. Puckish.
And for 56 minutes it looked like Jupiter had ground out a significant win, taking a 9-5 lead into those final four minutes, and looking like they were going to take a run out the clock end to this.
Only to see a stunning reversal of fortune that almost cost them the game.
The ghosts of SA’s past showed up and decided to duel with Puck for control of the game.
But they were a few seconds too late . . .
Those last four minutes deserve their own story.
It all started innocently enough with a few mental errors.
Trying to do a little too much with a late lead. A long pole taking a lengthy shot on a fast break when it wasn’t needed. A middie going to goal to add to a lead that should have been enough already. And an attackman going down the left alley but not getting off his shot with his better hand when it was there and the backup wasn’t in place either.
Just a few little mental mistakes that almost cost the game, although it wasn’t too evident when they happened, within a couple of minutes in the middle of the fourth.
But that small opening became a giant chasm quicker than you could write this paragraph.
At 3:34 it became 9-6 as SA’s Mark Heatzig took the up top feed from Michael Lizzio on the left wing and his step down beat Jupiter goalie Ethan Randell on the far side for the EMO tally that ignited the fireworks.
Then at 2:26 it was 9-7 as Heatzig found Carl Klepper on the low right side for the short side shot . . .
And at 1:52 it was Heatzig working the right wing, spinning to his right and placing it low to the short side and we were now in a nail-biter at 9-8.
But Puck decided to fight back.
With about 1:25 left, it was Jupiter ball deep in the left corner and it was entrusted to a freshman named Rasmus . . .
(Author’s Note: Wells watched the replay a few times and texted me that is was Radice not Rasmus on the empty net goal, the 19 and 18 are really tight on the uniform backs . . . well, that’s for the record . . . but the story really reads well the other way and I DID find a Radice connection too, so take that Wells . . .)
Of course, being the anally retentive researcher I had to Google to see if any Rasmus connections appear in Shakespeare and the first one that popped up was a reviewer of Shakespeare works with that last name too, Agniezka Rasmus, who was quite prolific in her publications on the author’s works. And just as interesting . . . Plymouth University holds a Shakespeare festival to celebrate his 400th anniversary . . . in DEVON, England . . .
Jupiter’s Rasmus then makes the play that saves the game . . . at least I thought so at the time . . . by splitting the double team and heading towards the wide open cage for the easy shot to stretch the lead to 10-8.
And when SA took an offside penalty on the ride with about 35 seconds left it should have been the ball game.
But the ghosts of SA made one last effort at pulling it out. A turnover led to possession and with 10 seconds left Tito Thompson was able to elude the defenders to get to the middle and his left hand shot hit the low right corner for 10-9 . . .
Seriously, you had to see this as it played out, because no one believes you if they don’t.
Then throw in SA gaining the last faceoff and getting into position to call timeout with about 4-5 seconds left.
That gave SA a chance to get off one last shot and they set up a play that did get that look, only to have Randell swallow it up to end the game. Pretty fitting for him too . . . given he missed the FHSAA playoff game last year due to an injury in practice.
Puck wins out in the end . . .
Yogi Berra would have been proud . . . It ain’t . . . you know the rest.
SA took the lead with 7:08 left in the first on Nick Iznaga’s left alley step down to the top right corner from Adam Stiefel’s right top feed. Jupiter then went on a run of three goals to make it 3-1 after the first. Rasmus was fed from Denver Aranda on the top right and his step down hit the low left corner at 5:09. That was followed at 2:11 as Chris Radice was the beneficiary of a fortunate deflection off Trevor Sousa’s crease feed, as the ball dropped into the top left corner. And less than a minute later it was Tanner Gabriel walking in from the top right and his bullet found the top left corner for the third.
SA long pole Oliver Albert made it 3-2 on a terrific solo effort, stripping the ball in his own end and going all the way down the right alley before bouncing one low from about 10 yards out at 10:38. Radice then found Aranda down low on the the right wing just 22 seconds later to make it 4-2. Klepper made it 4-3 at 9:02, taking Matt Adams behind the net feed on the right wing for the top far corner shot and with 1:33 left in the half SA tied it on Adams’ individual effort, working behind and curling from the right side for the low left-hand shot to make it 4-4.
The teams went back and forth in the third as both goalies were making key saves and finally at the 5:01 mark Gabriel made a solo dash after causing a turnover, beating his defender down the alley and finding the top short side from in close for 5-4. He pretty much replicated the move at 3:50, to make it 6-4. Thompson got that back at 2:21 (sorry was writing when it went in so I don’t know if it was assisted) to make it 6-5 but less than a minute later it was again a two-goal lead as Michael Dean worked the right wing, spin dodging to the right before finishing with the right hand to the top middle of the net to make it 7-5 after three.
Jupiter scored two goals in 17 seconds early in the fourth to make it the 9-5 score referred to at top. At 11:11 Radice and Rasmus teamed up (get used to hearing that one for the next 3-plus years) with Rasmus finishing with the top right bounce shot and at 10:54 it was Dean taking the pass from long pole Kai Stampar off the turnover and Dean’s left hand hit the top short side, leading up to the paragraph at top . . .
Coach Loftus getting a few grey hairs . . . Coach Seaman has certainly seen this type of ending a few times before . . .
And the lacrosse Gods once again can smile a mirthful chuckle . . .
There’s no rest for SA as they are back in action tonight, hosting #8 Lake Highland Prep at home, while Jupiter awaits LHP at noon on Saturday at home. Observing the after game I suspect LHP is going to be put to quite the test . . .
Faceoffs: 11 each
Shots: Jupiter 40-26
Shots on Goal: Jupiter 22-16
Turnovers: SA 15-13
Penalties: SA 4-1
Chris Radice 3G/2A
Tanner Gabriel 3G
Michael Dean 2G each
Denver Arand 1G/1A
Devon Rasmus 1G
Trevor Sousa and Kai Stampar with 1A each
Ethan Randell with 7 saves
Mark Heatzig 2G/1A
Tito Thompson and Carl Klepper with 2G each
Matt Adams 1G/1A
Nick Iznaga and Oliver Alpert with 1G each
Michael Lizzio and Adam Stiefel with 1A each
Andrew Busel and Nick Ferraro combined for 12 saves, each playing a half
Thanks to Coach Seaman and Coach Loftus for talking to me before and after the game