Oh man, this was a beauty!
If you like intensity in a game, great goaltending by both Ryan Leahy and Christian Tomei, and their defenses, and some chess level offense you’d love this one . . .
Some really strange facts . . . in the first 22 minutes of the game the teams combined for ONE GOAL . . . and in the last 1:53 of the half they combined for FIVE
Until Oxbridge scored with 1:16 left in the second they were fighting a simple fact. Almost SIX periods of play against STA without scoring a goal. Talk about a weight being lifted.
In reality, you can point to one part of this game that ended up being the deciding factor. STA led 4-2 at the half and dominated possession and scoring chances in the 3rd quarter but their shooting let them down as they hit the cage in the 3rd on only two of their 9 shot attempts and many of those were excellent looks. This could have easily been a 7-2, 7-3 game going into the 4th but Oxbridge was able to hang around and Jack Kilian scored the only third period goal to make it 4-3 heading to the fourth and momentum had certainly swung. i was a little leary of STA’s offense going into the season given how much talent graduated the last two years and it looks like there will be some work to be done.
Oh, and one other fact . . . none of us in the stands has ever heard so many ‘pings’ on shots before . . . not because they shots were off the post and out, but because they were off the post and in . . . that was about the only way these two goalies were going to be beaten all night.
What also made the difference to me was an adjustment that the Oxbridge offense made in second half, as they started ‘reverse inverting’, running Connor Davies on the right wing instead of his more familiar behind the goal and starting cutting down the middle right off that and the winning goal came about from that pattern. Kilian scored three of the four goals of the second half as Oxbridge’s suffocating defense, which has now held THREE Top 10 teams to a COMBINED 13 goals, held STA scoreless in the second half, a complete reversal of last year’s STA playoff masterpiece.
One thing I also want to note: great to see Noah Cash back on the field! The freshman starter has now bounced back from two season-ending knee injuries to become the top senior defender we all knew he’d become. And Noah, I think you owe us a Submit Recruit Commitment article, don’t you?
If we get this rematch in April you need to be there . . .
STA opened the scoring with 4:26 to go in the second as Grant Laman took the Nick Yovino pass on the left wing and fired a bullet to the top short side on EMO. Then at 1:53 Max Schwarz went backdoor to the crease and Laman found him from the left wing for the low left hand shot to the right corner for 2-0 (I would be remiss in not noting this was the only backdoor cut for a goal by STA last night, which was a staple of their offense the last three years) and that was followed 8 seconds later as Jared Chenoy popped forward the faceoff, found Laman on the left wing and Laman found Brock Gonzalez all alone on the low right for the left hand to the top short side for 3-0, and it was starting to look like a familiar game.
But at 1:16 Jerry Annunziata took a lengthy Tomei pass, kind of similar to those who saw the end of Syracuse and Army, in stride, and was able to go down the right alley before nailing the top left corner from 10 yards out to make it 3-1. And with 7 seconds left it was Annunziata again, with the split dodge from up top and his 15 yard shot clanged in just under the cross bar for 3-2. Of course, there had to be some more drama. After resetting the clock to 7 seconds, STA won the draw on procedure and Yovino bulled his way through two defenders, dropped the ball, regained it and fired low to low, hitting the low left for a goal with no time left on the clock for what could have been a backbreaker, to make it 4-2 at the half.
Those last two minutes were worth the ticket cost all by themselves . . .
Kilian scored with 8:41 left to make it 4-3 on the right wing spin dodge and his right hand shot also went in off the bar and that’s were it went to the fourth.
Kilian tied it up at 4 with 9:41 left as Davies won a key ground ball behind right, and as the offense moved around he found himself behind left, where he fed Kilian cutting down the middle right for the step down to the low right corner. With 5:36 to go Davies, working near right GLE found Ryan Comforti in a similar location for the top left corner shot to give Oxbridge their first lead at 5-4. After some back and forth possessions Kilian put up the insurance goal on an individual effort, curling from behind right and getting to the crease, finishing with the left hand low with 1:36 left.
STA earned an EMO with about a minute left but was not able to threaten the goal needed to bring the game back to a one possession chance and the final score remained 6-4.
Oxbridge is back in action Monday, hosting Wellington. Then on Wednesday they travel to Jupiter in a game that the area needs to turn out for. STA plays NSU-University on Tuesday before hitting a slate of three straight MIAA matchups!
Faceoffs: STA 8-4
Shots: Oxbridge 26-22
Shots on Goal: Oxbridge 15-12
Turnovers: 15 each
Penalties: 4 each
Jack Kilian 3G
Jerry Annunziata 2G
Ryan Comforti 1G
Connor Davies 2A
Christian Tomei with 8 saves
Grant Laman 1G/2A
Nick Yovino 1G/1A
Max Schwarz and Brock Gonzalez with 1G each
Ryan Leahy with 8 saves
Thanks to Coach Ross and Coach Crowley for talking to me before and after the game