BERLIN- The smallest of margins kept the Stephen Decatur boys’ varsity lacrosse team from exorcizing a demon in the season opener on Monday as the Seahawks fell to old nemesis Kent Island, 10-9.
Defending state champion Kent Island has become a measuring stick of sorts for the Seahawks, who fell to the Buccaneers three times last year including the Bayside Conference championship game and the state 3A-South sectional final. With an outstanding core of veteran players returning and a handful of talented newcomers, it was clear on the field, and on the scoreboard, that the Seahawks have closed the gap with Kent Island, but a handful of tiny moments that didn’t necessarily seem significant at the time conspired in a pulse-pounding 10-9 loss.
The Seahawk shooters hit at least three pipes during the tense back-and-forth game, and a dropped pass here and a missed ground ball there and a call or two that could have gone either way made up the infinitesimal difference. Decatur took a 9-8 lead with just under seven minutes remaining and appeared poised to vanquish their old nemesis, but in the end, it was the Buccaneers coming out on top.
Decatur scored first on a goal by Matt LeCompte with just under nine minutes left in the first, but Kent Island answered about 40 seconds later to tie the game at 1-1. LeCompte then hit Corey Gwin with an excellent assist and Gwin converted to put Decatur ahead, 2-1, as the first quarter expired.
In the second, Jackson Mumford found LeCompte with a great assist to extend the Seahawks’ lead to 3-1 just 30 seconds into the period. Kent Island scored on an unsettled situation at the 10:40 mark in the second to cut the lead to 3-2. A Buccaneer fast break goal about 40 seconds later tied the game at 3-3. With 3:39 left in the second, Kent Island fired a shot into the upper corner to take their first lead of the game at 4-3.
With 2:45 remaining in the second, Shane Moore scooped up a loose ball and fired a shot past the Kent Island keeper to tie the game at 4-4. However, Kent Island scored with under a minute remaining in the second quarter to take a 5-4 lead into intermission. Decatur keeper Will Hastings, who was outstanding all day, made a great save on a point blank shot, but a Kent Island player grabbed the rebound and fired it home.
In the third, Decatur scored first on an extra man situation when Gwin found LeCompte with a beautiful feed to tie the game at 5-5. Kent Island went ahead again, 6-5, with 7:14 left in the third. Decatur tied it again on a nice goal by Moore in traffic in front of the net with just over four minutes remaining. During that stretch, Decatur shooters hit pipes at least three different times on great scoring opportunities. Kent Island scored with 1:15 left in the third to take a 7-6 lead.
In the fourth, Decatur scored on a hard shot from Steve Alther from the perimeter to tie the game at 7-7 with 10:35 remaining. LeCompte then gave Decatur a lead at 8-7 with a laser from the top right corner with 9:24 remaining. Kent Island tied the game at 8-8 with 7:24 left in the game. About 30 seconds later, Decatur defenseman R.J. Hayman cleared the ball and hit Gwin for a fast break goal to put Decatur ahead, 9-8 with just under seven minutes left.
Kent Island scored an extra man goal to tie the game at 9-9 with just over five minutes remaining as the tension mounted. Another goal at the 3:20 mark gave Kent Island a 10-9 lead. Decatur had at least one more opportunity to tie the game again, but turned it over. Kent Island took a timeout with possession of the ball and just 1:38 remaining and was able to run down the clock with Decatur never getting another chance.