Tower Hill boys lacrosse coach Brad duPont finally figured out how to make his team play its best game.
Just put the Hillers up against an undefeated, highly ranked opponent.
No. 4 Tower Hill dominated possession from start to finish Saturday but still had to repel repeated comebacks to win 16-11 at second-ranked St. Mark’s.
“Coaching has more to do with how to get these kids focused than the X’s and O’s,” duPont said. “I haven’t been very good at getting them focused. We can play with anybody – the best teams and the weakest teams. We play at their level.”
The Hillers (7-1) were at their best against one of the state’s best, handing the Spartans (7-1) their first loss.
It was 2-2 after one quarter, although Tower Hill outshot St. Mark’s 7-2. The Hillers found the net three times in the first 90 seconds of the second quarter, with goals by Andrew Pettit, Will Mette and Ben Manning putting Tower Hill up 5-2.
St. Mark’s came back with goals by Mike Walsh and James Magnani, and the Hillers led 7-5 at the half. Tower Hill got off to another great start in the third quarter, as Ben Watson scored 16 seconds into the period and Pettit lit it up twice for a 10-5 lead with 9:30 left in the frame.
Again, the Spartans came back. Magnani scored three straight goals, two assisted by Morgan Madonna and one off a Rhett Schweizer pass, to pull within 10-8.
“They kept fighting back,” Pettit said of St. Mark’s. “We never got a great lead on them. We just had to keep going.”
The Spartans pulled within 11-10 on Madonna’s man-up goal with 8:55 left in the game. But Tower Hill scored five of the last six goals. Pettit fed Mette for a score, and Sam Murphy and Manning found the net off back-to-back assists by Brett Hinckley. Pettit put it away with two goals in the last two minutes and finished with seven goals and three assists.
“It’s great. They were undefeated,” Pettit said. “We came out really hard. We knew we had to match their intensity, and we did it.”
The Hillers credited faceoff man Reed Boyden with helping lead to an edge in possession that resulted in a 48-19 advantage in shots. Spartans goalkeeper Alex Manges kept it close with 19 saves, and Magnani scored six times.
“Their goalie is a phenomenal athlete,” duPont said of Manges. “He made some saves that I don’t know how he did that. I was a goalie, and I was very impressed. I wish I could have been half as good as he is. He kept them in there.”