Mount Greylock pulls off stunning rally to drop St. Bernard's in Central/West DIII semifinal
WILLIAMSTOWN — If the Mount Greylock boys lacrosse team was dead in the water, no one bothered to tell them.
Down two goals with two minutes to go, the top-seeded Mounties stormed all the way back and scored the winning goal with two seconds remaining, lifting themselves to an 11-10 win over No. 4 St. Bernard's that sends the team back to the MIAA Central/West Division III finals for the third year in a row.
With the game seemingly slipping away, Sean McCormack got the Mounties back on track with an unassisted effort with 1:47 to go. Thirty-three seconds later, Pat Storie leveled the game up out of nowhere with a diving effort at the goal.
But with the threat of overtime looming — and the Mounties struggling through their most difficult game of the season — Thomas Astle made sure there would be no chance of an upset.
After a St. Bernard's procedure penalty gave the Mounties the ball back with under a minute to go, Greylock took a timeout to draw up a play. That play failed, but it made no difference.
The Bernardians thought they had the ball cleared after Sean Kelley made the last of his whopping 17 saves. Instead, Owen Politis scooped up a ground ball in a sea of bodies around midfield and turned back to the attacking area. Seeing Astle with a sliver of space on the right wing, Politis fired the ball to Astle. Astle, in turn, sized up Kelley's goal and fired off a shot as a defenseman closed down on him. The ball beat Kelley to his near post, and sent the Mounties into pandemonium.
"Obviously it was very hectic those last couple of seconds there," Astle said. "I guess at that point it's dodge, find the gaps, and we did that. We found the very little gaps and we executed. I mean, I really don't know what to say right now."
No one did.
The comeback was one the Mounties had to claw and scratch to get. Down 3-2 after the first quarter, Greylock took a 6-4 lead into halftime. But out of the break, St. Bernard's rallied and went up 9-6 on a goal from Zach Bingham. Mount Greylock pulled one goal back through Michael Wellspeak, his fourth of the day, but trailed 9-7 after three.
Reilly Parker pulled the game within a goal with 7:28 left in the fourth off an assist from Storie, only for Curtiss Vachon to put the Bernardians back up two with his fourth tally of the day. With 4:45 to go, the Bernardians were feeling good about the prospects of an upset after falling to the Mounties twice in the last two postseasons.
"It was a game of back-and-forth," St. Bernard's coach Mike Kelley said. "We had the first quarter, and they took some momentum away from us at the end of that quarter, and obviously they dominated the second quarter.
"Then we dominated the third quarter [and] until the last two or three minutes there, we had the fourth quarter pretty well in hand. But that's why we play the games."
Greylock also benefitted from a bit of luck that seemed to not be there for a majority of the game. After McCormack's goal, the Bernardians were called for a procedural turnover with 1:31 to go to set up Storie's tying goal.
Then, off of the faceoff, the Bernardians again turned the ball over on a procedural turnover. Still, the luck meant nothing if the Mounties didn't convert on their chances.
"Well, when we got that one goal to make it a one-goal game, we just kept riding our momentum, kept our heads up, didn't get discouraged," Astle said. "We pushed through it. We got those last couple of goals and we finished it off."
Back down the other way, senior captain Cal Filson (11 saves) did his part to keep the Mounties in it. After playing an up-and-down first half, Filson came up with three huge saves at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth to keep the game from getting away, including a point-blank save to start the final period when Zach Zarrella had him beat.
"I mean, yeah, that's extremely tough," Filson said of battling his mind. "Lacrosse is a game of a lot of goals. If you let one in, even if it's a bad one, even if it's one I think I should have had, I just have to put it past me and get the next one. It's a task, and I'm definitely up to it."
Or, as Astle put it: "Cal — great player. I'm going to miss him a lot next year, no doubt. But, this year, excellent season. I'm at a loss for words. He's our leader."
The Mounties now turn their sights to a rematch of the last two Central/West title games against Grafton. The Mounties won in 2014, but fell in 2015. The game is scheduled for Friday at West Springfield High School.
There's a lot to work on before the game for the Mounties, and it starts with getting themselves right.
"We are going to talk a little bit about or opponent, we know they are a very good team," Mount Greylock coach Brandon Asplundh said. "But we also need to figure out how to play a lot better than we did today. The vast majority of the focus will be on us and how we can get ourselves to play with more discipline and fewer turnovers."
St. Bernard's goals — Curtiss Vachon 4, Zach Bingham 3, Nick Bagley 2, Zach Zarrella 1. St. Bernard's assists — Vachon 1, Zarrella 1, Mark McKew 1, Pat Vachon 1.
Mount Greylock — Michael Wellspeak 4, Sean McCormack 2, Thomas Astle 2, Pat Storie 2, Reilly Parker 1. Mount Greylock assists — Owen Politis 2, McCormack 2, Storie 2, Astle 1, Parker 1.
Saves — SB: Sean Kelley 17, MG: Cal Filson 11.
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.
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