North County's boys lacrosse team almost found itself in an unfamiliar position last night against host Annapolis.
With 9:48 left in the game, Annapolis defenseman David Winegrad scored off a feed from Taylor Boone to tie the score at eight. Had the Panthers converted one of their many opportunities during the next minute, they would have been the first team to lead the No. 11 Knights all season.
Instead, coach Jon Appelt's team withstood Annapolis' four straight second-half goals and went on to win, 9-8, on Greg Sabo's third and final goal, off a pass from Andy Mocarsky.
North County raised its record to 12-0.
"To tell you the truth, I'm glad we won the game, but I'm even happier that we came away healthy," Appelt said. "That was a very physical game, and I'm glad that we didn't suffer any injuries. Annapolis is a very physical team."
Sophomore attackman Ian Stevenson set up the game-clinching goal by deflecting a pass from Panthers goalie Tobin Poole.
Stevenson finished the evening with a goal and a game-high four assists.
Down 8-4 in the middle of the third period, Annapolis (7-3) scored four consecutive goals to tie the Knights.
Before Winegrad's score, Brendan Bellotte tossed in two goals and fed Josh Morgan for another.
"Annapolis outplayed us during the entire second half, but I think we showed a lot of character. We could have folded up the tents, but we hung in there even after they tied the game up," Appelt said.
North County came out fast during the first quarter, taking a 4-0 lead in the first eight minutes.
Mark Collins (three goals) began the spree by shooting between several Panthers defenders. Sabo then scored off an assist from Mocarsky.
Shawn Moyer bounced a shot past Poole off an assist from Stevenson. Then Collins bounced in a pass from Mocarsky to give the Knights its fourth unanswered goal.
Annapolis came back with three unanswered goals, spread over the first and second quarters. Eric Morgan led the charge, scoring twice and assisting on a goal by Clancy Cornwall to bring Annapolis within one.
North County went up by two 39 seconds later, when Lauren Reich converted a high pass from Stevenson. Eric Morgan's look-away shot closed the gap to 5-4, but Stevenson collected two assists on goals by Collins and Sabo, giving the Knights a 7-4 halftime lead.
"I'm thrilled to come out of here with a win. I think it was a case of us coming up with the big plays when we needed them. Sabo, Mocarsky and Stevenson came up big for us," Appelt said.