Poly played two distinctly different halves against visiting Lake Clifton yesterday, and coach Augie Waibel let his Engineers know which one he preferred.
"We're outshooting them 11-3, and we're losing 2-1, and we're not picking up ground balls; we're booting them out of bounds," he shouted to his players on the sideline late in the first half.
"They're giving us the game and we don't want it."
Waibel's comments didn't fall on deaf ears. His Engineers (9-1) responded with a 7-6 decision over the Lakers (6-2), capped by a four-pass sequence that ended with DeVaughn Maddox stuffing the game-winner past keeper Dave Fulgham (10 saves) from two yards out.
Defender Jeff Hamm started the play, scooping a shot deflected by keeper Dan Bukowski (10 saves) and firing it to Thong Vu just beyond midfield. Though immediately covered by a defender, Vu, while falling to the ground, lifted a pass to Gary Davis (two goals) in the box.
Davis took a few strides toward Lake Clifton's defense, led by Tory Gilliard and Derrick Hayes, and found Scott Hermes (two assists) six yards out. Hermes passed to Maddox.
"My defender left me to get Hermes, and their goalie came out to hit me," Maddox said. "The goal was empty, so if I'd missed it, I'd have been ashamed."
Maddox deflated the Lakers, who just one day earlier took an 8-5 decision over Northwestern behind Fulgham's 13-save effort. Poly disrupted an extra-man opportunity with 40 seconds left, then ran out the clock when the Lakers were penalized for slashing.
With remaining games against Northern and Southern, Poly all but secured the city league crown with its fourth one-goal victory of the year. A fifth one-goal game, against Patterson, resulted in Poly's only loss, 9-8.
Yesterday's game was tied at 3, 4, 5 and 6, with the Engineers taking their first lead, 5-4, on Dave Neuberger's unassisted one-hopper with 38 seconds left in the third period.
Neuberger's tally came shortly after Bukowski stopped two point-blank attempts just seconds apart.
"We get behind and we don't play until the third and fourth quarters," said Neuberger, who had two goals and an assist. "If we played four good quarters, we'd really do well."
The Lakers took a 2-0 early lead on goals by Paul Preston, who scored five times. And with 3:48 left in the first half, Damian
Mason made it 3-1.
But 38 seconds before halftime, the Lakers were penalized, and Mike Alt, assisted by Neuberger, made them pay.
"The penalties ate us up, and they played good defense -- smart and hard -- to take us out of our game," said Preston, whose high-scoring teammate, Nate Moyd (one assist), was collared by Hamm, Mike Bayne and a host of swarming Poly defensemen.
Said Alt: "Preston's a great player who's going to score on you, but we just said, 'Let's shut off everyone else and double-team him on the pass.' Our defense did that."