May 1, 2009

Haverford Survives Green Terror Upset Bid

from press releases

HAVERFORD, Pa. - For the first time ever in their program history the Haverford men's lacrosse team advanced to the Centennial Conference tournament final, moving on to Sunday's game with a 9-8 win over McDaniel College (10-6) on Friday afternoon at Swan Field.

Sunday's championship match-up at Swan will feature the Fords (13-2) against the winner of Friday's other semifinal between No. 6 Gettysburg and Washington College.

Max Hjelm's 44th goal of the season pushed the fourth quarter score to 9-6 in favor of the Fords and proved to be the game-winner but long-stick midfielder Grant Firestone's tally with 0.8 seconds left on the clock at the end of the first quarter might end up being the most important goal of the season for the Fords so far.

Haverford held a 2-1 lead as the quarter ticked down towards zero and with the entire bench and coaching staff screaming for a shot, Firestone's long-stick cradled the ball in it's netting as the junior spun away from a defender and he got off a shot from five yards out and to the goalie's left that found the back of the net stirring an eruption from the bench and much of the crowd that numbered nearly 400 in size.

Just his first goal of the season, Firestone's score made it 3-1 and continued the momentum the Fords had been building since McDaniel had opened the game's scoring.

Trailing 1-0 on a Matthew Daley goal for the Green Terror, Haverford's Matt Turnier began a 16 second sequence that gave the Fords their first lead, and one they wouldn't relinquish the remainder of the game.

At the 10:05 mark of the opening quarter, Turnier notched an unassisted goal -- his second score of the season -- to tie the score. Sixteen seconds later Brian Fleishhacker took a feed from Firestone and put the Fords up 2-1 with his 27th of the year.

Heading into the half, the Fords led 5-3 but McDaniel would creep within one during the first four minutes of the third quarter on a Gibbs Preston score.

The teams traded goals, Phillip Valliant scoring for the Fords and Evan Young for McDaniel, through the midpoint of the third quarter. Jason Leeds' score with five minutes left in the stanza pushed Haverford's lead back to two and the teams headed into the final quarter with the Fords ahead 7-5.

Hjelm opened the scoring in the fourth with his 43rd goal than answered the Green Terror's Mike Hatton score with his eventual game-winner at the 6:13 mark.

McDaniel caused a few tense moments in the closing minutes after Hjelms score, though, as DJ Rickels pulled the Green Terror within one scoring at 5:28 to go and then adding a man-up score with 4:23 to play.

Haverford goalie Joe Banno had come up big all afternoon and thwarted the comeback attempt with a save near the two-minute mark. Banno earned the win making nine saves while his counterpart, Kenny McHugh, took the loss for McDaniel registering 10 saves in the Green Terror's final game of the season.

Haverford, who qualified for their first-ever NCAA tournament last season with an at-large bid, now stands on the precipice of winning their first Centennial postseason tournament and first automatic bid into the national tournament.

Sunday's conference championship game starts at 1 p.m. on the turf at Swan Field.

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