Although the North team had 18 players from New York, it was ultimately the South's Empire State native — goalie Bobby Wardwell — who changed the course of the game.
Wardwell, who will play atSyracuse, turned in a 12-save performance, leading his team on a second-half surge and helping the South to just its second win in six tries. The South took advantage of the North's 26-minute scoreless streak, tying the game early in the third quarter and never trailing again. The South squad — led by the MVP Wardwell — pulled out an 11-9 victory in front of an announced crowd of 4,238 at the boys Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic.
"There were a lot of things going right [after halftime]," coach Rick Brocato said. "Bobby Wardwell was seeing the ball so well. We really, really played terrific defense. Our kids were playing team defense, we were getting the first, the second slide. Packing inside, in a game like this we started getting the third, fourth and fifth (slide), but we felt like if we could get three we'd be in good shape. We did a great job there."
The North played well early, putting on an offensive showcase with four goals on 16 shots in the opening quarter. It took the North just five seconds to get on the scoreboard, as Brandon Gamblin (Massachusetts) picked up the opening groundball, raced toward the goal and whipped a low ball past Conor Kelly (Notre Dame). After St. Paul's Jay Carlson (Maryland) tied the score with a high shot over Navy-bound goalie John Connors' shoulder, the North went on a 3-0 run to end the quarter.
Patrick Keena (Navy) ended a 12-minute scoreless streak for the South team when he rocketed a shot past Connors to open the second quarter. Other than a mid-quarter scoring spree, when the South notched three goals in a 70 second span, the North maintained control. However Kelly kept his squad in the game, and after 30 minutes he had nine saves — three less than the All-American game record set by AJ Fiore in 2009.
But at the start of the second quarter Wardwell took Kelly's spot between the pipes, and the substitute outdid the starter. Wardwell, who starred at Shenendehowa in Clifton Park, N.Y., held the North team scoreless in the third quarter, the first time in the game's six-year history that a squad went an entire quarter without notching a goal. While Wardwell's New York classmates were slotted on the North squad, because three of the four goalies chosen for the game were from New York, one of them had to play for the South.
Like Brocato, Wardwell gave all the credit to the defense.
"The defense was playing phenomenal," Wardwell said. "I only saw outside shots — shots outside seven or eight yards — and those are the kind of shots I've been seeing all season."
Meanwhile the South stormed ahead with another scoring spree. This time Carl Walrath (Virginia), Kevin Forster (Maryland) and Gilman's Ryan Tucker (Virginia) each scored in a 35-second span late in the third period to give the South a 10-7 lead. Brocato said he was pleased with the way Boys' Latin product and future Johns Hopkins attacker Wells Stanwick ran the offense.
"I was just trying to get everyone involved," Stanwick said. "I was just drawing my man, hitting the open guy and trying to get some motion going."
The North quickly notched two fourth-quarter goals, but Wardwell's nine fourth-quarter saves kept his team ahead. Wardwell's 12 stops ties him with current Cornell netminder AJ Fiore for the most in the All-America game.
Saturday's 11-9 game was also the lowest scoring contest in the game's history.