CHERRY HILL – Going into this week, wins were in short supply and confidence was even less for the Washington Township High School boys’ lacrosse team.
So Minutemen coach Dan Fowler challenged his two-win team at practice on Saturday.
Washington Township has responded, winning its second-straight game Wednesday with a comeback 7-6 victory over Cherry Hill East, ranked No. 8 in the Courier-Post Top 15.
“It was a slow start, but we talked about this week being the turning point,” said Fowler, who is in his third season as head coach. “We are calling it our turning point week. We are taking it one game at a time, but we want to get to 3-0 for the week.”
The Minutemen (4-7) beat No. 12 West Deptford Monday and play Kingsway on Friday.
“We had a Saturday practice and it was kind of slow because of our record, so coach told us the turning point starts on Monday,” Washington Township senior goalie Chris Burns said. “So far he is right. We want to keep it going.”
Minutemen senior Joe Pandolfi kept it going with his second goal for the game winner midway through the fourth quarter to knock off Cherry Hill East, which dropped to 9-3 with its second straight defeat.
“It is the biggest win we had this season,” Washington Township senior Jordan Dzierzgowski said. “We know the potential that we have and what we can play up to as a team.”
Dzierzgowski, a midfielder, netted a hat trick and collected two assists in the Olympic Conference American Division matchup.
“We stuck to a play that was working and they didn’t have an answer for it,” Dzierzgowski said.
East led at the half, 5-2, before freshman Jake Dzierzgowski – Jordan’s brother – scored with 9:39 seconds left in third quarter. Four minutes later, Pandolfi cut the Cougars’ lead to lead to 5-4.
In the fourth quarter, Josh Phillips scored to tie the game with 11:09 left for the Minutemen. Then Jordan Dzierzgowski scored two minutes later to a 6-5 lead.
But 16 seconds later, Cherry Hill East senior Brandon Stern scored to knot the game.
However, Pandolfi scored with 6:29 left and Burns didn’t allow East to tie the game.
“It was more of a team effort than anything,” Burns said. “We were talking more on defense and our sticks were up backside.”
Washington Township lost the first meeting to East, 8-6.
“We didn’t want to have that feeling again today,” Burns said.
With the season turning around, Washington Township is looking also toward the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.
The Minutemen play at Cherokee on Monday and home against Eastern Wednesday before the May 9 cutoff.
“The way the seeding works, it is through Laxpower, the top 16 teams go,” Fowler said. “Because of our strength of schedule, we are still in the top 16.
“We know with the slow start of the season there was a lot of things we forfeited, including the conference championship, but we know if we can turn the season around this week and take it into the next couple of weeks that we can make some noise in the playoffs.”
Kevin Callahan; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com