MEDFORD – The state lacrosse tournament doesn’t begin until next week. But the boys from the Shawnee and Lenape high school teams got an early glimpse of the level of post-season intensity that’s to come.
Shawnee ended Lenape’s bid for a perfect regular season with a 7-6 overtime win Thursday in an Olympic Conference American Division game.
The game-winner came from Grant Parkas with 14.9 seconds to play in the extra session, with an assist from Bailey Pringle.
Both Parkas and Pringle scored two each as Lenape saw its record fall to 15-1 with one regular season game left against highly regarded St. Augustine.
“Going into the playoffs it’s really fun to beat a team like that,” said Pargas, who also scored the game’s first goal. “They’re a great team and it was very hyped, especially considering they’re in our district. I think this should give us some momentum going into the playoffs. It’s great for us.”
The Renegades finished the regular season at 12-3, including a recent win over St. Augustine.
They went into play ranked No. 4 in the South Jersey Sports Digest’s Top 10, while Lenape went into the game ranked No. 1.
It was the second meeting between the two Lenape Regional School District rivals and there will not be a third this post-season as Lenape is in Group 4 and Shawnee is in Group 3.
Lenape, the Olympic Conference American Division champion, defeated Shawnee in their first game this season. However, things were different the second time around as neither team would give an inch.
“I’m glad we played up to the level Lenape was going to play with,” said Shawnee goalie Dan Falzone. “I feel like that’s what came through at the end. We didn’t slack off. We played the whole game.”
The biggest lead of the game was 4-2, held by Lenape in the first half, and there were three ties and two lead changes in a taut fourth quarter.
There were two quarters, the first and the third, in which Lenape didn’t score.
“Our defense has been outstanding,” said Shawnee coach Jim Dunn. “We needed a good game to go into the playoffs with. Lenape is a great team and we always have a great game against them. We knew we had to play together to beat a team like that.”
On the other sideline, Lenape coach Mike Sutphin gave Shawnee its due, but he said his team didn’t play its best.
“They played well, but we didn’t do fundamentals right,” he said. “We had too many drops. The better team won today.”
There were points in the fourth quarter in which it seemed each side had control of the game. But, in reality, neither squad was able to shake the other.
The quarter began with Shawnee trailing 4-3, but the Renegades turned that round when goals by Kyle Korchack and Gavin Willson gave them a 5-4 lead with 6:28 to play in regulation.
It turned out at that point, however, that Lenape was down but not out.
The Indians regained the lead at 6-5 on consecutive goals by Mason Bregman and Matt Lajoie, the latter coming with only 2:21 to play.
Shawnee then had a chance to tie and Lenape had a chance to extend their lead, but both sides turned the ball over under great defensive pressure.
The final change of possession gave Shawnee a chance to tie the game, and the Renegades took advantage when Pringle scored his second goal of the game with 1:06 to play.
Neither side could connect in the opening minutes of the four-minute overtime period, but Shawnee had the final chance before going into a second overtime and they made it work.
According to Pargas, the winning goal came on a broken play.
“We drew up a play and it went wrong,” he said. “But we handled it well. I didn’t even know the ball was coming to me, but we put it together well and we were able to finish – every one of us.”
Lenape 0 4 0 2 0-6
Shawnee 1 1 1 3 1-7
Len: Matt Donaghy, Drew Bregman, Dom Albanes, Mason Bregman, Matt Lajoie, Luke Cole.
Sha: Grant Pargas 2, Bailey Pringle 2, Chris Lyons, Kyle Kolchack, Gavin Willson.