Pacer scorers overwhelm Lincoln
Statistically speaking, last Wednesday's state lacrosse semifinal game did not represent Lakeridge's best effort of the season. As it turned out, it hardly mattered.
Still, it was hard to ignore the fact that the Lincoln Cardinals won three-quarters of the face-offs that were taken. Plus, the Cardinals attempted eight more shots than the Pacers and they had a slight edge in groundballs won.
Lincoln had to feel good about its chances in the semifinals after claiming hard-fought playoff wins over Southridge and Sheldon. However, the Cardinals had no answer for Lakeridge's high-powered offense, which made efficient use of its 25 shot attempts en route to a 15-7 victory.
To their credit, the Cardinals made the first half interesting as they won most of the face-offs. That put more pressure on the Lakeridge defense than it had seen all season. Yet, the Pacers still led 7-3 at halftime.
That lead dwindled to 7-4 early in the third quarter, but the rest of the game belonged to the Lakeridge offense.
Andrew Clayton got the second-half onslaught started with a goal at the 6:50 mark of the second period. Three minutes later, Clayton scored again on a spin move in front of the net. Then, Max Schlesinger, who would play the role of hero in the championship game, scored to push Lakeridge's lead to 10-4.
Lincoln tried to stem the tide with a goal by Patrick Rogers late in the third. But Lakeridge's Joe Cramer negated the Cardinals' momentum when he scored nine seconds later with an unassisted run down the right side.
That gave the Pacers a comfortable 11-5 lead heading into the final period, but there would be no coasting to the finish. Instead, Cramer won the face-off to start the fourth and raced down the left side before converting from 12 yards out.
Danny Purcell kept the run going when he scored a minute later on an assist from Corey Rosenfeld. The scoreboard then seemed to be stuck on the 13-5 score until the 5:32 mark of the final period when Cramer found the net from the point.
Then, with the game well in hand, Clayton came up with possibly the best move of the Final Four when he ran over a defender who was trying to flatten him. Clayton then used a spin move to free himself from a second defender and fired a shot past the goalie.
Clayton and Purcell wound up sharing game scoring honors with four goals apiece. Schlesinger and Cramer added three tallies each and Jordan Schrader had one. Cramer also had a team-high three assists while Clayton assisted on two scores.
Afterward, Lakeridge coach Curt Sheinin decided to award the game ball to his team's 14 seniors. Chosen to represent those seniors was Brett Klitz, a first-team all-state midielder who missed the playoffs with a knee injury.