Four minutes into Tuesday’s nonconference game against Pennsylvania power Haverford, the Loyola Blakefield lacrosse team surrendered four unanswered goals.
For first-year coach Gene Ubriaco, it provided a unique situation to see if his Dons would respond.
They made some adjustments, showed poise and fight, managing to answer and even take a brief lead. But in the end, the resources needed to claw back took a toll as Haveford had another four-goal spurt in the second half that was pivotal in an 11-9 over the host Dons.
After Matt Dixon gave the home team a 5-4 lead with 6:04 left in the third quarter, the Fords went on the decisive game-turning roll with five straight. Jack Leary provided the lead for good at 6-5 with 12 seconds left in the third quarter and then the Fords scored twice with the extra man to start the fourth quarter and take hold of the game.
The No. 6 Dons (1-2) got a fine 10-save performance from junior goalie Kevin Ellington, three goals and an assist from Henry Tolker and three goals from senior Chase Llewellyn, but it wasn’t enough to offset dominating faceoff play from Chris Tsetsekos and four-points games from Adam Salvaggio and Brennan McBride.
“I loved the way our guys competed today. I just felt like we were always in comeback mode,” Ubriaco said. “A couple little plays here or there – a couple goals we would like to have over and maybe a couple missed opportunities offensively. But that’s a great lacrosse team and we’re still figuring some things out. We got a lot of young guys playing key roles, but I’ll tell you what – the boys in white really got after it today.”
Tsetsekos continually gave the Fords (3-1) the ball early and they wasted little time breaking out with Salvaggio’s first of the game pushing the lead to 4-0 with 8:01 to play.
But the Dons started digging in on ground balls and Ellington settled in to make six stops to keep the visitors at 4 while the Dons attack chipped away. With an extra man for three minutes after the Fords were called for an illegal stick, the Dons got goals Tolker and Llewellyn to cut the lead in half with 5:24 left in the first quarter. When Llewellyn scored again – cutting to the middle with a pass from Jack Koras finding him in stride, the lead was 4-3 less than two minute later.
Ellington and the Dons kept the Fords scoreless for 28-plus minutes and they took their only lead on Dixon’s goal midway through the third quarter.
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Salvaggio and McBride took over the game’s pivotal stretch – they combined on four goals and three assists to build the lead back up to 9-5 early in the fourth quarter. The Dons would twice get within two goals, but no closer.
“It obviously took a lot of effort and energy to get back even, then we got a lead there and then I just think we ran out of gas a little bit,” Ubriaco said. “We had a lull there when they were able to stretch it a little bit. We kept coming back but we just couldn’t get all the way back.”
Senior midfielder and captain Alex Bruschi applauded the effort from Ellington and the Dons’ defense to allow them get back in the game and also gave Haverford its due in claiming the win.
“It makes it easier when you have Kevin Ellington back there. They have our back on defense and they just kept giving us more and more chances to put the ball in the cage. But we just weren’t able to get quite enough this game,” he said.