EVESHAM – A playoff feel arrived early between the Moorestown and Cherokee high school boy’s lacrosse teams.
The intense Saturday morning matchup packed both postseason poise and pressure. The non-league meeting was so good and competitive the two teams kept playing.
The entertaining game finally ended in the third overtime when Quakers senior attack Christian Snodgrass scored at the 2:45 mark for a 10-9 win over the Chiefs.
“Quinn (Willis) made a perfect pass, it was right on my stick,” Snodgrass said of his sophomore teammate. “It was a good play, everyone moved well and it shifted the defense.”
“That was a design play,” Willis said about the game-winning feed. “It was just my job to throw it to the guy on the backside. Coach (Baron Wallenhurst) drew it up and we executed it very well.”
Moorestown, ranked No. 3 in the Courier-Post Top 15, improved to 5-0 with the grinding win over No. 7 Cherokee. The Chiefs dropped to Cherokee 2-3, but all three losses were against top teams in the state.
After reaching the South Jersey Group 4 quarterfinals last season and finishing 14-5, Cherokee started this promising season with a win over Egg Harbor Township before losing to Bridgewater-Raritan and then losing 5-4 to No. 2 Shawnee. The Chiefs rebounded to post a 10-5 victory over Haddonfield before pushing Moorestown to the limit.
“I think we played one of our best games, we didn’t stop fighting.” Cherokee senior attack Jordan Krug said after scoring four goals. “We knew Moorestown has been the best in South Jersey the past 10 or 15 years, so for us to be able to hang with that team, we should be able to compete with anybody.”
Moorestown is the only team in South Jersey to win a state title. The Quakers, who play in the powerful Skyline Conference with Bridgewater-Raritan, beat Shawnee last year for the State Group 3 championship.
This was Moorestown’s first game against a South Jersey team this season. The Quakers play at No. 1 St. Augustine on May 5.
“I know everyone wants to beat us,” Moorestown midfielder Bryan Wright said after scoring three goals. “So we have to come out firing every game.”
Midway through the third quarter, Cherokee tied the game at 5-5 on a goal by Jesse Streb. Two minutes later, Krug gave the Chiefs the lead.
Krug scored to open the fourth quarter for a sudden 7-5 lead.
Wright scored to cut the Chiefs’ lead, but then Cherokee’s Max Bundesmann scored with 6:52 to play to make it 8-6.
Moorestown’s Kevin Tsao and Wright scored again to tie the score at 8-8 with 5:31 left.
“We really had to step it up in the fourth quarter,” Wright said.
Willis scored with 4:51 left in regulation to give the Quakers a 9-8 lead. Krug’s goal sent it into an overtime with 30 seconds left in regulation.
“They played hard, they wanted to take the game from us and they had that opportunity but we were able to fight back,” said Wallenhurst, who had to replace last season’s Player of the Year, Michael Handlan. “We are playing a lot of young guys. We did battle back and that shows a lot about the character of the team.”
Cherokee’s grit shined as well.
“Playing such a tough schedule, and that is what I told the kids, will pay off at the end of the season,” said Cherokee coach Pete Corelli. “Whether we have come out with wins or not, the team has improved every game and as a coach that is all you can ask for.”
Reach Kevin Callahan at kcallahan@gannett .com and follow on Twitter @CP_KCallahan
MOORESTOWN 10, CHEROKEE 9
• Player of the game: Moorestown midfielder Bryan Wright scored two of his three goals in the final eight and a half minutes to help send the game into overtime.
• Play of the game : Moorestown senior attack Christian Snodgrass took a feed from Quinn Willis to score the game winner at the 2:45 mark of the third overtime.
• Well said: “You would like to come out with wins, but this game was the best game we played all year against a great team like that.” – Cherokee coach Pete Corelli