WASHINGTON — With the game tied and less than nine minutes to secure a spot in the semifinals, midfielder Josh Zawada took matters into his own hands.
While No. 3 Hill Academy’s offense was stuck in a rut, Zawada scored two goals in less than two minutes.
Hill (Concord, Ontario) then added another goal and went on to an 11-8 quarterfinal win against Lawrenceville (N.J.) in the GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals on Sunday.
“He seemed to want the ball in his stick in that pressure situation when it was tight,” Hill Academy coach Brodie Merrill said of Zawada. “That was a good sign for a young player. I thought it was a turning point in the game.”
Hill, ranked No. 3 in the Super 25 and the tournament’s No. 2 seed, will play St. Sebastians (Needham, Mass.) on Monday at 9 p.m. ET in the second semifinal.
The Pride dominated possession in two ways. They scooped up 38 ground balls, nine more than Lawrenceville (17-7) and they won 16 of the 23 faceoffs. The Pride won every faceoff in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t want to sound cocky, but being the faceoff guy, you have to have the mindset that you’re the best guy and you’re going to win it,” midfielder Justin Iancio said. “So you have to be confident, of course, and if you lose you can’t let it affect you.”
While Hill Academy started strong, it only held a two-goal advantage at halftime. The Big Red came out hunting to tie things up in the third quarter. As they made stops on the one end, they quickly transitioned to offense and put pressure on Hill Academy.
“It was a little faster paced than we expected,” Lawrenceville coach Allen Fitzpatrick said. “I thought both offense shot well. A lot of plays made, they came out with more goals than we did.”
The Pride played aggressively all evening. At one juncture toward the end of the third quarter, goalkeeper Brett Dobson ran the length of the field to put a shot on net. It would have been a goal, if not for a goal-crease violation.
Lawrenceville responded, and tied the game at 8, on a play drawn by Fitzpatrick after a timeout. Midfielder Harrison Bardwell attacked the net from the sideline and slung the ball into the net.
Goalkeeper Ryan Verducci helped keep Lawrenceville in the game despite The Pride’s shot advantage. Verducci made 13 saves on the night.
“He’s always stepped up for us,” defender John Whiting said. “We always trust he’s going to do that.”
In the end, The Pride was able to slip away from Big Red in an instant at the end of the game. Located in Ontario, this team strives to challenge themselves and travel to face various programs in America. So, this weekend is a culmination of that.
“It’s really exciting,” Merrill said. “It’s great for us to be in this kind of playoff scenario. I think it brings out a different level of lacrosse. You have to elevate your play in this situation when your backs against the wall.”