By Ross Woolsey, Special to the Ladue-Frontenac Patch
Back on March 16, St. Louis University High and MICDS battled through three overtimes before the Rams finally prevailed. Neither team lost another game to an in-state opponent until they met again on Saturday in the Missouri State Lacrosse finals at Lindenwood University. This time SLUH was the one-goal victor in a back and forth game, 7-6, winning their second state championship, their first since 2009.
SLUH jumped off to a two goal advantage early in the game on goals by Thomas Place and Daniel Tiapek. The normally explosive MICDS transition game started off slowly, as the Rams appeared sluggish in the on-field 106º heat. With just 48 seconds left in the first quarter a Jack Howell goal finally put the Rams on the scoreboard.
The teams battled each other, and the heat, and traded goals until SLUH scored on a goal by Jack McHenry to take a 4-3 halftime advantage.
The Jr. Bills built on the halftime lead with a Mark Weber goal as the Rams offense continued to stall. But at the 8:56 mark of the third quarter, the MICDS season goal scoring leader, Mac Cornwell, blasted his first goal of the game, cutting the SLUH lead to one.
Finally getting its transition game untracked, a steal by MICDS defensive stalwart Chris Heimenz (playing despite a dislocated knuckle tendon injured in Wednesday’s semi-final victory over Chaminade) and three quick passes lead to Cornwell’s second goal of the game, tying the score.
A potentially serious head and neck injury to SLUH’s Justin Mayfield stopped action for 25 minutes as the medical staff attended to the injured SLUH star. The extended break gave the players a much needed break from the brutal heat. When action resumed, Howell’s second goal gave the Rams their first lead of the game. The lead held until the 7:25 mark of the fourth quarter, when Michael Leritz broke free to score the tying goal for SLUH.
Tension mounted during the next five minutes as the teams traded possessions. MICDS’ William Morehead had two straight-on shots blocked by the outstanding SLUH junior goalie John Lawder. SLUH called time out with 3:53 left to plot one final push. They worked the ball around to Game MVP Tiapek whose shot at the 1:33 mark found the back of the net.
The Rams weren’t finished as they pressed forward. With 34 seconds left, MICDS’s David O’Hara shot from point-blank range, only to be thwarted again by Lawder, his third on-goal save in the final five minutes. SLUH ran out the final seconds to earn their title.
MVP Tiapek commented after the game that coming in as a freshmen to share in SLUH’s first title in 2009, and then winning the 2012 title as a senior was a special feeling and a terrific ending to his high school career.
The disappointment ran deep on the Rams bench. But when viewed from the perspective of Ram Coach Andy Kay arriving at MICDS four years ago and welcoming the current thirteen seniors to the program as freshmen, neither he nor they likely envisioned the accomplishments they would achieve together. They leave a legacy any school would be proud to call their own.