Early leads turned out to be quite meaningless in both the boys and girls lacrosse championship games of the Monsignor Martin Association on Thursday night.
St. Joe's and Mount St. Mary fell behind by 3-0 scores in the early going of their games. But by games' end, both of those teams were holding a championship trophy. The Marauders took a 14-5 win over Canisius in the boys game, while the Thunder's Maeve Kearney scored the winning goal with 2:01 left for a 7-6 girls win over Mount Mercy. The games were played at the Demske Sports Complex at Canisius College.
One fact sums up the night for St. Joe's: It scored 11 straight goals after falling behind by three in the first four minutes. Canisius went more than 28 minutes without a goal along the way.
"It's kind of funny because we've started a couple of games like that," coach Peter Hudecki said. "But our guys had great composure. I knew we were going to do our job."
A look at the scoresheet says a great deal about how the game went. In the 11-goal run, six different players scored: Jack Lalley had four goals, Blake Zachau and Cole Campbell had two, and Casey Kelly, Kellen Pulera and Hunter Parucki got one each. The Marauders moved the ball flawlessly in getting excellent scoring opportunities, and they capitalized on them.
"We stressed on increasing our percentage of assists," Hudecki said. "Good teams assist a lot. If you have a lot of straight-goals, you're not going to beat good teams. I think we had assists on almost every goal."
"Our whole team played well," Lalley said. "In the first half, we really laid it to them. In the second half, we didn't want them to get on any runs and we did that."
The Marauders also had a big edge in time of possession throughout the game, as Canisius just didn't have the ball enough to keep up.
The one-sided win was a little unexpected, because the two teams had played close contests in their last three meetings. Two of them came earlier this year, while the third was in last year's championship game - when Lalley scored in overtime to give St. Joe's the win.
"The comeback win was great, but this was a lot better," Hudecki said. "These guys worked really hard to win this."
The Marauders still have a game to play - the Catholic state championship on Long Island next week against an opponent to be determined. But Thursday's game was Lalley's last in Monsignor Martin competition, and it was the latest in a series of triumphs.
"In the last two years, I've played five seasons and won five Monsignor Martin championships," Lalley said. "It's been great. It couldn't be any better than that."
Speaking of senior moments, Kearney couldn't have ended her career at Mount St. Mary any better - scoring a title-winning goal, on her birthday no less.
"I was really hoping, but I never imagined that I would be the one getting the game-winning goal, especially on my birthday," the senior said after the contest. "But I worked really hard. I wasn't the big standout the whole season, and I didn't compare to the others on the team. But I needed to do this for our team."
"She's really stepped up the last couple of games, and played with her all," Thunder coach Mackenzie Berger said.
It was a bit of revenge for the Thunder, which had lost in the championship game to Mount Mercy last year.
"I wasn't here last year, and I did not even mention last year," Berger said. "I said this was a new start, this is our team. For the most part, they did that."
The Thunder fell behind, 3-0, after about three minutes, but slowly came back to tie by the early part of the second half. It was back and forth from there, with Molly Meegan of MSM tying the game with her third goal of the game with 7:19 to play. Then Kearney turned into the hero.
"I hardly remember it, I was so into the moment," she said. "I kind of rolled the crease, came straight on, shot low like Coach has been telling us to do. I was so happy."
From there, it was time for the traditional award ceremony, and a team photograph was taken on the field. Then the rest of Kearney's teammates sang "Happy Birthday" to her and lifted her up into the air.
"It was amazing," she said about her day. "It was something I'll never forget."