After losing for the first time this season to the Louisville Collegiate Titans, the Lacrosse Wolves bounced back with a crucial 4-3 win over chief rival Jesuit on April 6 at Hunter Stadium, followed up by landslide 10-2 defeat over Brother Martin in the Quarter-Finals on April 21, to send the team to the Final Four Championship on April 27 in Lafayette.
“Last year was our first trip to the Final Four weekend,” said Head Coach Austin Speni. “You have to play two of your toughest games on back-to-back days. We learned that winning a championship is a mental and emotional roller coaster.”
This month’s match-up between SPS and intense rivals, the Jesuit Blue Jays, was a highly anticipated event. Stands filled rapidly with people ready to see the state finalist vs. the state runner-up rematch. Lacrosse players from earlier matches sat in the stands in their uniforms to watch the rivalry happen. What people witnessed were two skilled teams wanting to make their school proud by putting everything they have out on the field.
The Blue Jays had exacted some revenge in a 7-3 semifinal win over the Wolves at the Battle by the Beach Tournament last month, after losing to the Wolves in overtime at the Allstate Sugar Bowl High School Classic in February. The Wolves knew they had to come out strong.
The Blue Jays came out with a bang, winning the first faceoff, and instantly getting a shot off. Senior goalie Alex Autin blocked the first shot, but the Wolves could not get their offense together. Jesuit regained possession and took it down for two more shots that were just wide of the goal, with one more that was blocked by Autin. Goalkeeper, Autin had a great first quarter with five saves. The Jesuit defense was locking down the Wolves, limiting them to only one shot on goal. Finally, with only 1:09 left in the period, Jesuit scored, giving them an early lead.
Second quarter, St. Paul’s showed what they were really made of and scored in less than a minute of the beginning of the period, equalizing the score to 1-1. The Wolves defense was on point for this period, limiting the Blue Jays to four shots on goal and successfully killing two penalties.
In the third quarter, Jesuit came out with momentum, scoring while St. Paul’s was a man down on defense. Jesuit, taking advantage of the penalty, scored and tied the game at 2-2. The Blue Jays, not wasting much time, scored again making it 3-2. The Wolves almost instantly answered with a goal, once again tieing the game at 3-3 with 2:24 left in the quarter.
Fourth quarter starts with only 12 minutes and the board and the score still tied. Jesuit got two men down, but held their ground and killed the penalties. St. Paul’s scores with 2:00 minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the defense held Jesuit off until the time ran out, giving St. Paul’s the win 4-3.
The win earned St. Paul’s first place in the LHSLL East District, with a 4-0 district record. Following the crucial win against Jesuit, the Wolves went on to defeat Brother Martin 10-2 in the LHSLL Quarterfinal Playoff on April 21 and will go on to play host St. Thomas More in the first round of the Final Four Championship on April 27 in Lafayette.
“This year, we have proven that we are both mentally tough and extremely athletic. If we play St. Paul’s lacrosse, I like our chances a lot to win the state title,” said Speni.