There is no doubting the excellence of the Trinity boys’ lacrosse program. Leading Carlisle, 9-2, late in the third quarter of the Mid-Penn Championship game under the lights at Landis Field in Harrisburg on a more than chilly May 17, there was little doubt the Shamrocks were about to win their first ever Mid-Penn Championship after losing the last two years to their nemesis Cumberland Valley.
In March, the Shamrocks (19-3) easily beat Carlisle’s Thundering Herd in the season’s opening week of league play. But, Carlisle had not lost a game the entire month of April, proving the old lacrosse adage that what counts in a season is not how you play in March, but how you play in May.
Trinity was firmly in control of the title game, having built a lead on long possessions and accurate shooting. There was little thought the Shamrocks would have an epic fourth quarter collapse that saw the Thundering Herd score six straight goals, and when they knotted the score at 10-10 with 30 seconds left, it was Carlisle’s game to win.
But, as the entire season has gone for the Shamrocks, the dynamic senior duo of attacker Rajbir Chima (50-plus goals and 200 career points) and middie Owen Hammel contributed dependable senior leadership in the ’Rocks’ epic moment of peril. With only seconds left, Hammel broke free after scooping up a nifty ground ball and dodged his way to land bottom left corner the winning goal with only seconds left. It was a thrilling end to a great game, and Trinity’s jubilation on the field was more about a collective sigh of relief of not losing a big game that was well in hand with less than 10 minutes left than it was about winning.
Credit goes to Carlisle, who had zero quit in their hearts. They also exposed Trinity’s youth on defense, which has been literally crippled with injuries throughout the season. Goalie Brody Teter (17 saves) made a number of crucial saves late against a Carlisle offensive attack that was like a bunch of killer bees going after easy prey to sting. Carlisle beat Trinity in every key statistical category – ground balls, face-offs and caused turnovers – but key plays by proven field veterans saved Trinity from an embarrassing defeat in front of a large crowd.
After the game, amidst the hugs and congratulatory atmosphere, the first-year head coach reflected on winning the school’s first ever Mid-Penn Championship in lacrosse. “I feel like I am going to throw up now,” Coach Standford said, referring to the game’s roller coaster-like tension. “Look, there is a reason that team did not lose in the last two months; Carlisle is a very good team and well-coached…. No doubt about it, they exposed our youth on the back end, but I am so very proud of all of these guys for just preserving through to get it done tonight…. In the end, it is the school’s first ever Mid-Penn Championship. I’m proud of them.”
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness