Championship Game Summary

Christopher Lawlor

WASHINGTON – It was a beauty, eh?

For sure if you were The Hill Academy (Vaughn, Ontario) on Tuesday night. That means the result and another piece of hardware, featuring the GEICO logo and crossed lacrosse sticks is heading North of the Border.

Again! Call it a sweet repeat.

The Hill found a way to annex their second GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals championship as it dispatched senior-laden Salisbury (Conn.) School, 15-12, at Catholic University’s Cardinal Stadium.

The Pride of Canada is just that and kings of the schoolboy lacrosse world. No one would have conceived it when the Pride lost three straight games earlier this season and needed a moment to pause and refocus before entering a pair of national-themed tournaments on back-to-back weekends in the Mid-Atlantic.

That line of naysayers has dispersed. All that is left is Hill Academy left at the front of the line. A week prior to the GEICO Lacrosse Nationals, the Pride captured a quality prep school tournament in Philadelphia, where they beat top-ranked Culver (Ind.) Military by a goal in the final.

The Pride topped CMA in the GEICO semifinals on Monday for the second time in just over a week on a neutral field. Hill went 2-1 against its archrivals this spring.

When the latest national rankings are revealed, will Hill have enough juice to reach No. 1?

If you ask anyone who attended the prestigious, star-filled three-day event here and would be no arguments. Hill twice knocked off the No, 1 Culver Military and second-ranked Salisbury on back-to-back days. The Pride concluded 13-4, with two tournament chips in May and carry a six-game win streak into next season.

The Hill was just 12 minutes from a second straight championship at this event and carried a 12-8 lead into the fourth quarter. Salisbury pressed hard and went on a 4-3 run but the gallant effort fell short. The Crimson Knights fired 10 shots on cage in fourth but were outgunned, 33-29, for the match.

Josh Zawada, who was the most consistent on attack for three days, was named Most Valuable Player following his two-goal, five-assist night in the final. His teammate, Dylan Watson sank four of his seven goals in the before intermission when the fourth-seeded Pride seized control. Zawada added five goals and two assists in the pivotal semifinal triumph over CMA.

Salisbury, considered New England’s top-program this campaign, featuring 21 seniors, finished 16-1. A marvelous season, too.

As expected Salisbury did not go that easy. Taite Cattoni and Patrick McIntosh tallied to bring the Crimson Knights twice within three goals in the fourth frame.

Cattoni, who was shut out in the through three quarters, regained his scoring mojo when Salisbury needed it. His second-consecutive goal at 4:29 dipped the deficit to two goals, 13-11, for the first time since early in the third. Hill then scored twice last three minutes to salt away the title.

Dawson Wynne’s goal two minutes into the second half brought Salisbury within one at 8-7. Again the Pride is not a team that cracks when the pressure is turned up. That’s because in less than three minutes, Hill ripped three quick-strike goals from Graydon Pipher-Hogg, Watson and Owen Hill—in that order—and the Canadians were leading, 11-7, with 6:53 left.

Hill meant business.

The Pride were 10 of 11 on clearances and St. Bonaventure-bound goalie Brett Dobson stood tall making 16 saves and thwarted three point-blank to keep Salisbury from gaining traction.

The opening 24 minutes were action filled and featured a run of goals by both teams. Hill was came out firing, banging in the initial four goals while Salisbury displayed the jitters of participating in its first GEICO Lacrosse Nationals final.

Hill shed those nervy moments a year ago when the Pride was crowned champions.

The second quarter saw each team score four goals apiece, but the Pride were up 8-6. Watson was responsible for half of Hill’s goal production and Zawada contributed two goals and two assists. John Lombard (a Cornell signee) and Teioshontathe McComber (Albany), a Native American from Quebec, had two markers apiece for the Connecticut prep school. However, the twosome was blanked in the second half.

Yale-bound Joe Neuman showed how effective a quality fogo can be late in the half when he won the center draw, scooped the ground ball, dodged a Hill man and went untouched to make it 8-6.

Neuman, who was otherworldly in the semifinals, showed his quick hands through one half capturing 10 of 16 faceoffs to keep the Crimson Knights in the match. He finished 21 of 30 in the game.

At halftime, Salisbury committed seven turnovers and Hill led in shots, 17-12. The teams combined to go scoreless on four man-ups (three by Salisbury).

The quarter started out with the teams exchanging goals in the opening 103 seconds as Syracuse-recruit Zawada and Salisbury’s Cole Allen pegged the back of the net.

The first quarter ended with Salisbury halving the deficit at 4-2 as Teioshontathe McComber bagged a pair of markers in the final 3:39.

Zawada picked up where he left off in Monday’s semifinals after 2:56 of the first quarter, flipping a wraparound into the net. Less than a minute later, Dylan Watson doubled the score to 2-0 at 8:26 and Salisbury burned a quick timeout, like they did in the semifinal win over Bullis School (Potomac, Md.), to settle the crew.

Salisbury, a sternly tested squad, saw its win streak to open the season halted at 13 games in a 9-6 loss to Deerfield Academy on May 16. That was lone loss against Western New England Division I prep school competition.

For the game, Gilbert had three points on two goals and a helper and Lombardi had two goals and two assist and the Crimson Knights held a 28-22 advantage in ground balls.