Cameron Carpenter turned in a perfect relief performance for the St. Joe’s boys lacrosse team on Thursday night.
The senior goaltender took over in net with 2:01 left in the third quarter and helped the Marauders turn a 9-6 deficit into a 10-9 overtime win in the Monsignor Martin championship game at St. Francis High School.
Carpenter made five saves over the game’s final 15 minutes and watched junior Jack Lalley net the sudden-death winner 1:12 into overtime, The Marauders won their first ever lacrosse title in front of an estimated crowd of 800 at Polian Family Field.
“Cam stood on his head,” St. Joe’s head coach Peter Hudecki said. “Incredible saves.”
With the game tied at 9-9, Carpenter saw a Canisius shot whiz by his head and ring off the right post. The ball came right back to Michael Tierney, but Carpenter snagged the senior’s shot with 35 seconds left and came up with another key save with 11 seconds on the clock to force overtime.
Hudecki said St. Joe’s had a 5-goal limit in place for his starter, Eric Deakin, at even strength. Carpenter, who played the field most of the game, had “no idea” a change was coming.
“I wanted to get on the field so I played a little bit of (long) pole and shorty on the field,” Carpenter said. “But in the third they gave me a chance.”
Canisius starter Danny Lafferty made 13 saves for Canisius (10-6) in the loss, while Deakin made six saves for St. Joe’s (10-10) before he was pulled in favor of Carpenter.
Canisius scored six straight after Carter Stefaniak struck first for St. Joe’s 43 seconds into the game. Joe Cooley netted a hat trick in the first for Canisius, while Reid Martin, Michael Tierney and Henry Popko each had a pair of goals.
“I thought we were playing really well,” Canisius coach Joe Smith said. “A change of momentum happens so quickly in this game. Unfortunately for us we were on the other side of that.”
Canisius, regular season league champions, led, 8-3, early in the third but as the score inched closer and Carpenter shut the Crusaders offense down, Joe’s fans sensed the comeback was on.
“Last time we beat them was a pretty big comeback so I knew I could do it,” said Carpenter. “I was just seeing the ball pretty well.”
With 10:23 left in the fourth, Lalley and Garrett House scored to make it a one-goal game with 8:08 left, and freshman Kevin Pulera scored his second of the game to tie it with 4:02 to play in regulation.
After winning the overtime faceoff and calling timeout, St. Joe’s looked for a short stick matchup on defense for more than a minute until Lalley found space on a defender and curled to the net. His shot found twine and set off a wild St. Joe’s celebration on the field.
“Last year we won the regular season championship and weren’t able to get it done in the playoffs,” said Lalley, who scored four goals on Thursday. “It’s unbelievable. Beating Canisius every time is great.”
St. Joe’s moves on to play Fordham Prep on Monday in Long Island, time and place still to be determined.