2017 GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals, Day 2, Game 1

By Christopher Lawlor

WASHINGTON – T Ridgeway just let it fly in overtime.

And with a powerful right-handed shot from 20 yards, the junior attackman from Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, Md.) produced one of the most memorable goals in the school’s storied history.

“I saw that their goalie was leaning to one side; I just pulled the trigger and it went in,” Ridgeway said.

Did he, ever!

Sudden goals are exciting and this one took your breath away and IMG Academy, a powerhouse from Bradenton, Fla., at shot at the championship. Ridgeway blasted home the winner from straightaway after 26 seconds of the extra period and the Little Hoyas took down top-seeded IMG, 13-12, in overtime Monday in the semifinals of the inaugural GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals at Catholic University’s Cardinal Stadium.

“Discipline was the main theme,” Prep first-year head coach Scott Urick said. “We needed to stay the course because IMG has such great athletes and they play a fun style. I thought if we played with organization and discipline on both offense and defense that we could win.”

Fourth-seeded Prep (14-5) will play third-seeded St. Sebastian’s School (Needham, Mass.) or second-seeded Hill Academy (Ontario, Canada) for the championship Tuesday at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPNU.

The bitter loss ended IMG’s season at 12-2, halting a 12-game streak. The Little Hoyas upended a team that entered the GEICO Nationals as third-ranked nationally and coming off a game in which they netted a season-high 26 goals.

“Sometimes the ball drops in for you and other times it doesn’t. Tonight it didn’t,” IMG head coach Jason Basso said. “Sometimes the ball bounces your way; give them credit.”

The game marked the end of a brilliant prep career for IMG’s Tehoka Nanticoke, who had four goals and an assist. The Albany-bound attack finished the season with 48 goals and 18 assists, including 12 goals and two assists in the GEICO Nationals.

“You just have to keep your stick when he has the ball because he can shoot from any angle,” said Prep goalie Justin Clark, who had seven saves in the second half.

Nanticoke was double and triple teamed all night but still managed the equalizer with 95 seconds left to tie it at 12. It was the third tie of the evening as the teams headed to overtime, with the Little Hoyas a man-up and retaining possession to start.

“They [Prep] did a good job of defending and sliding,” Basso acknowledged.

Prep built a 12-10 lead on Aidan McCleary’s laser shot from the left wing, but Devon Buckshot made it 12-11 with 5:54 left in the game.

When Virginia-bound Connor Humiston scored off Ridgeway’s fed from the X at 9:40 suddenly the Little Hoyas were up by their largest margin at 11-8.

With 3:09 left in the third, Prep’s Jared Fernandez completed his hat trick rolling around the cage and unleashing a wicked righty rising shot that handcuffed the goalie and it was 9-7.

Fernandez, a Syracuse signee, said, “we just didn’t execute today.”

There was a reason why the Little Hoyas rallied in the second quarter after trailing 6-3: They led in four key statistical categories; must notably 2 for 4 on man-up situations.

Kaleb Fernandez fired in two goals and Ridgeway and Thomas Graham tallied in succession in the final seven minutes for a 7-6 lead at the break. Nanticoke fed Cameron Badour at 2:17 to pull the Ascenders within a goal at 9-8 after three. IMG also had a potential equalizer nullified by a crease violation with 18 seconds.

The Little Hoyas outshot IMG, 33-14, and won 8 of 14 draws to maintain possession and allow the disciplined offense and hard checking defense take shape.

The Ascenders might have fell behind in the first found their rhythm. Scanlan and Nanticoke each flipped in a pair of goals.

IMG’s Scanlan and George Prince worked a nifty one-two passing combination that resulted in Prince’s first goal of the game and a 6-3 score.

IMG overcame an early run by Prep, taking a 4-3 lead into the second. Humiston’s laser into the upper corner with 2:11 to go reduced Prep’s deficit to a goal.

Following an early hiccup in the first four-plus minutes, IMG regained their swagger, pumping in three goals for a 3-2 edge. Nanticoke tallied on a pair of spins moves and Scanlan ripped a left-handed shot at 5:55 before Prep called timeout to regroup.

The Little Hoyas needed just 56 seconds to the produce the game’s first goal courtesy of Jackson Luck from 15 yards on the left of the cage. Moments later Luck struck again for a two-goal bulge.

Prep’s 56-30 shot advantage and 15 of 27 faceoffs were key numbers. It allowed the Little Hoyas to maintain possession and keep IMG’s lethal scorers off the ball. Though frustrated at times on defense, the blue-clad locals refused to wilt.

For the game, goalie Tyler Armstrong made 10 saves for the Ascenders. While Badour and Scanlon had two goals and an assist apiece.

Kaleb Fernandez, Ridgeway and Luck notched hat tricks in the victory and Humiston added two. Ridgeway’s six points, including three helpers, solidified the offense and Jack Van Slyke (one save) and Clark teamed for eight saves in the crease. Bryant Boswell and McCleary each gathered four groundballs.

Yet it was Ridgeway who let it fly at the end and it stuck in the net.

“Growing up you dream of a game like this; it’s really surreal,” Ridgeway said.

Prep’s ultimate dream is one victory from reality.