GEICO Lacrosse Nationals: Hill Academy wins to reach championship game

GEICO Lacrosse Nationals: Hill Academy wins to reach championship game

GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals

GEICO Lacrosse Nationals: Hill Academy wins to reach championship game

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated that Hill Academy led throughout the game; St. Sebastian’s had a 4-3 lead with 8:55 remaining in the second quarter.)

WASHINGTON — Ninety seconds into a semifinals matchup, No. 3 Hill Academy (Concord,  Ontario) attacker Keegan Khan scored an unassisted goal. A minute later, he scored another unassisted goal.

St. Sebastian’s (Needham, Mass.) would answer and take a 4-3 lead, but Hill scored the next four goals in four minutes for a 7-4 edge and went on to a 12-10 victory Monday night at the GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals at Catholic University.

Hill (13-1), the tournament’s second seed, will face No. 5 seed  Georgetown Prep (Bethesda, Md.) in the championship game Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

RELATED: Georgetown Prep beats IMG Academy in OT

While Khan had played mostly at midfield this season, his transition to attacker paid off Monday night.

“We wanted to come out fast,” Khan said. “We just wanted to beat them at their own game. I got the ball behind, liked my matchup and scored the first two goals.”

Khan’s early goals got his team into a rhythm that they carried throughout the game, Hill coach Brodie Merrill said.

Much of the Pride’s success came as a result of converting their opportunities. Midfielder Justin Inacio won 11 of his 13 faceoffs in the first quarter. Hill had 23 shots in the game’s first 24 minutes.

When Inacio left the game in the second half with a hand injury, his team lost 10 of the following 11 faceoffs. Inacio will miss the championship game.

“He’s someone we’ve relied upon heavily over the course of the year,” Merrill said. “We had to have other guys try to step up.”

Hill Academy midfielder Justin Inacio (32) attempts a shot between St. Sebastian’s defensemen Patrick Reed (7) and Will Frisoli (Photo: Rafael Suanes, USA TODAY Sports)

But not only did their offense find success. The Pride were able to swarm St. Sebastian’s offense and often get their sticks on shots. The Arrows (17-3) rarely had open space to operate.

Throughout the year, Hill academy has made it a priority to attack opposing offense from the middle and force them into a different pace of play, Hill defenseman Teddy Leggett said.

“Pressure hard, get on sticks and try to force turnovers,” Leggett said.

The Arrows seemed discombobulated at times with teammates moving one way while someone passed the ball the other way. The team lacked communication and harmony, particularly in the third quarter.

They had nine turnovers in the quarter and 18 in the game.

“I think being down a couple goals it might change your psychology,” St. Sebastian’s coach Adam White said. “We were trying to make plays we don’t normally make.”

Hill Academy attack Keegan Khan (76) runs toward the net in front of St. Sebastian’s defender Cameron Martin (Photo: Rafael Suanes, USA TODAY Sports)

No matter how many runs St. Sebastian’s was able to muster, the efforts were always countered by Hill Academy.

“They did a good job of battling back every time we tried to make it a game,” White said.

Now, the team from Canada will face off against hometown Georgetown Prep for the inaugural tournament title. Not only is Hill representing its team and school, but the players even feel like they are representing their country.

“Any time we get to play for a championship is special,” Leggett said. “Being a Canadian team playing against teams from the United States you have your country in mind, too.”

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