BERLIN- Wednesday’s highly anticipated match-up between
old neighborhood rivals Stephen Decatur had a little bit of everything
including rumbling thunder, a 30-minute lightning delay, great shots, big hits
and lots of penalties, but in the end, the Mallards edged the Seahawks, 8-7, in
front of a big bi-partisan crowd at Decatur.
Fans from both area schools filled the stands on either
side of the field as the two teams prepared for the annual dust-up between the
neighborhood rivals with nothing more at stake than bragging rights in the
community for another year. The game ended up being everything as advertised as
both teams exchanged blows in the heavyweight fight before the Mallards emerged
Decatur got out to a quick early lead on a pair of early
goals by Bruce Howe and a third by Nick Hogan. Worcester’s Dan Bunting got the
Mallards on the board and the first quarter ended with the Seahawks leading
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to score in a very
physical, penalty filled second quarter, but steady goalkeeping and stingy
defense on both ends of the field kept the score at 3-1 as the clock ticked
down. Meanwhile, the dark skies out to the west crept closer and closer to
Seahawk Stadium and the rumbles of thunder grew louder with each passing
Worcester ended the scoring drought with 4:24 remaining in
the second quarter when Max DiFillipo hit Alex Fisher on the crease and Fisher
finished the play to cut the Decatur lead to 3-2. Then, with 2:40 remaining in
the first half, Worcester’s Travis Gregory fired a hard bounce shot from the
perimeter that nestled under the crossbar and the game was tied at 3-3.
About 30 seconds later, Decatur’s Logan West provided the
answer with his first goal of the game at the 2:04 mark in the first half and
the Seahawks took a 4-3 lead into half-time. At the start of the third quarter,
Worcester methodically worked the ball around the perimeter of the Seahawk
defense before Gregory found a seam and fired a shot to tie the game at 4-4
with 7:48 in the period. With 6:27 left in the third quarter and the game tied
at 4-4, the referees spotted a lightning flash in the distance and suspended
play for 30 minutes.
Both teams retreated to the locker rooms and the big
bi-partisan crowd cleared the stands for shelter, but hardly anybody was going
home early. When play resumed after the interruption, Gregory hit Will Regan
with a perfect feed on the crease and Regan converted the shot to stake
Worcester to a 5-4 lead.
Worcester scored again at the 1:52 mark in the third
quarter when Christian Payne found Brian Carey on the crease and Carey scored
on a perfect quick-stick to extend the lead to 6-4, but the game was far from
over. On an unsettled situation in front of the Worcester goal, a Decatur
middie scooped up the loose ball and flipped to McGarry who fired a jump shot
passed Mallard keeper Christian Coates to pull to 6-5 with 56 seconds left in
Worcester’s Hank Fisher then scored on a crank shot from
the perimeter with nine seconds left in the third to push the lead back to two
goals at 7-5 with a whole quarter to go. Decatur’s West wasted no time getting
the Seahawks right back in the game when he took the ball coast to coast and
converted the hard shot to cut the lead to 7-6 with 10:41 to play in the game.
After Coates made a big save to kill a Seahawk extra-man
situation, Decatur defender Drew Murray intercepted the clear and hit McGarry
streaking to the goal and McGarry converted the fast break to pull even at 7-7
with 6:59 remaining. With the score tied and the tension building, Gregory made
another big play to put the Mallards back in front.
After Decatur was flagged for a penalty, the Mallards
worked the ball around the Seahawk cage in the continuation before play was
stopped when Gregory found a gap on the right side and fired the shot to put Worcester
up 8-7 with 4:34 remaining but there was still plenty of time left for Decatur.
A Worcester penalty with 2:39 left gave Decatur a one
minute extra-man situation, but the Mallards were able to kill the penalty
after several close calls. Worcester passed the ball around its offensive end
to kill the clock, but a huge hit jarred the ball loose and Decatur had one
last chance. The length-of-the-field clear landed harmlessly in the Mallard end
and the game ended with an 8-7 Worcester win.
The Mallards bench rushed the field and congratulated
their teammates on the field, while the sullen Seahawks appeared dejected and
quietly walked off, but there were no losers in the game. It was well played
from start to finish and illustrated just how far high school lacrosse in
Worcester County and across the Eastern Shore has come.