Boys Lacrosse: Leopards 'had no business losing' to TJ

April 09, 2013|By DANIEL KAUFFMAN |

SMITHSBURG — Smithsburg’s boys lacrosse team will be happy to see someone other than Thomas Johnson’s Nick Sponyoe between the pipes the rest of this season.

The Leopards outshot the Patriots 52-20 and, thanks to Travis Leopold, won 16 of 20 faceoffs. But Sponyoe made 23 saves and Thomas Johnson left Coach Carroll Reid Field with a stunning 8-7 victory.

“He had a good night, and our shooting was to his liking,” Smithsburg coach Joe Dietrich said. “We were going low, and he was very good getting down quick.

“Travis was incredible on faceoffs. We had no business losing.”

Tied at 5 after three quarters, the Patriots (3-3) took advantage of a man advantage to start the fourth, with Devin Shields scoring off a feed from Ryan Hayes right at the end of the one-minute penalty for a 6-5 lead.

With 9:48 left, TJ made it 7-5 with a transition goal, as Blair Plombon hit Dylan Davey with a long diagonal pass upfield and Davey converted.

Smithsburg goalie Zach Schaeffer made two good saves during another man-down situation with eight minutes left, and made two more stops on shots in close with five minutes to play. But the Leopards — who were called for four penalties in the final period — gave up another goal a man down when Alex Aguilar scored inside off Hayes’ assist with 4:22 left for an 8-5 TJ lead.

“I thought we were back in it (at 5-5),” Dietrich said. “Some of the penalties were surprising, but what are you going to do?”

The Leopards (2-3) scored twice in 17 seconds — both on assists by Garrett Ghafir from behind the goal — to cut the lead to 8-7 with 3:21 left. Ghafir found Garrett Brenk inside for the first score and Josh Thomas inside for the second.

But that was all Smithsburg would get. A 30-second pushing penalty with 1:05 left and an offsides call with 39.5 seconds to play hurt the comeback attempt. The Leopards had one last possession with 10.8 seconds left, but a bad pass prevented a final shot.

Both teams scored in the first five minutes of the first quarter. Then Sponyoe took over. He made two tough stops on shots from point-blank range with five minutes left in the first quarter, then made nine saves in the second while the Patriots scored three goals in the period for a 4-1 halftime lead.

TJ helped Smithsburg get back in the game with penalties in the third quarter. The Leopards scored twice with a man advantage (once with a two-man advantage).

Sponyoe wasn’t the only goalie who came up big for TJ. After Sponyoe was called for a two-minute non-releasable penalty for a cross-check in the third period, Brady Fitzgerald stepped in and, after allowing a goal by Thomas at the 3:46 mark, made two quality saves to keep the Patriots ahead, 5-4.

Brenk’s goal in transition tied the game at 5 with 1:08 left in the third.

Thomas and Brenk each finished with three goals and an assist for the Leopards. Ryan Kreun scored a goal and Ghafir and Ryan Karroll each had two assists.

Davey scored three goals, Aguilar had two goals and an assist, and Shields also scored twice for the Patriots. Plombon had a goal and an assist, and Hayes added three assists.

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