CLAYMONT– The Wilmington Friends boys lacrosse team kept hanging around, answering Archmere’s goals, refusing to go away.
Until the Auks’ defense took the game away from the Quakers.
Senior goalkeeper Jake Mottola made a big save with 3:09 left, and Archmere controlled possession the rest of the way and scored a couple of late goals into an open net for a 13-8 home victory on Thursday.
The second-ranked Auks (3-1) were stung by a 15-6 loss to talented Academy of the New Church of Bryn Athyn, Pa., on Tuesday, and had to work hard before ultimately prevailing over No. 4 Friends (2-1).
“We were coming off not our best performance on Tuesday,” Archmere coach Peter Duncan said. “I think the boys responded to the challenge and beat a good, playoff-caliber team.”
The Quakers hit the board first when River Harper converted a pass from Peyton McNeill. Meanwhile, the Auks missed the cage on their first six shots while trying to find a way through Friends senior Jakob Katzen, a second-team All-State goalie last season.
“They had a rangy, talented defense, and arguably the best goalie in the state,” Duncan said. “We’re still getting some of our early season fundamentals in line, and I’m confident that will improve.”
Archmere got untracked with three goals in a two-minute span — from Robert Baxter, Ben Revak and Jacob DiBattista. Revak assisted on Mitchell Moyer’s score 90 seconds later as the Auks built a 4-1 lead with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
“We started out slow on offense, but we just kept with it,” Revak said. “I knew if we got a lot of shots on goal and we played our defense, we could pull it out at the end.”
Revak scored on a high shot and banged home another goal after two spin moves to make it 7-3. But Daniel Manley bounced one in and Jake Nolen also found the net as the Quakers pulled within 7-5 at the half.
The teams started to trade goals in the second half, with Archmere leading 10-7 after three periods. Then the Auks’ defense created a turnover that led to a fast break, with Moyer scoring off Baxter’s feed to make it 11-7 with 7:31 to play.
“In the second half, we really came back and really started communicating,” said junior Pat Udovich, one of Archmere’s key defenders. “We got our sticks up in the lanes, started knocking down some passes, got some ground balls and got lucky a couple of times.”
Eric Pincus fed Nolen for a score that pulled Friends within 11-8 with 4:25 remaining. But Udovich, DiBattista, Ryan Whelan, Jackson Singewald, Nick Salameda, Austin Marvel and Michael DiPretoro were among the defenders who stepped up and kept the Quakers from getting any closer.
“We’re a much improved defense this year,” Duncan said. “We play well as a team. The guys are working hard every day. [Friends] had a lot of good players who could shoot, so to hold them to eight goals was a nice achievement.”
Mottola’s late save extinguished Friends’ best chance. Then, with Katzen coming out of the cage as the Quakers pressed for a turnover, Revak and Moyer scored into an empty net in the final minute. The Auks outshot Friends 42-21.
“We had some jitters going,” Revak said. “But our defense really did play well. Especially our goalie, who really stepped up in the fourth quarter.”
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.