With lightning striking just over three minutes after opening faceoff, the anticipation continued to grow in the stands and on the field for the match-up between N&O boys lacrosse No. 1 Ravenscroft and No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons.
Despite playing under different associations, both Ravenscroft in the private school NCISAA and Gibbons in the NCHSAA had a lot at stake.
For the Ravens, a win secured a 10-1 start, the best in school history.
As for the Crusaders, a win meant avoiding their first three-game losing streak since 2005 after away defeats at Landon (VA) and western powerhouse Charlotte Catholic.
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Despite trailing for much of the game, Gibbons scored the first goal in every quarter, including a 3-0 run to open the third and a 5-0 run to open the fourth, to leave Stephanou Stadium 10-6 victors.
“We were playing passively the past couple of weeks, and we were expecting things to happen for us,” Gibbons coach Alex Buckley said. “Tonight we had guys that said ‘okay I’m going to step us and do this right now.’ ”
After the extensive delay, Ravenscroft (9-2) came out firing on all cylinders, forcing Gibbons (8-3) goalie Anthony Digirolamo to make two tough saves early.
The Crusaders struck first, with Kevin Barry burying a time-and-room shot after an assist from Mark Schachte.
The response was a 3-1 run from Ravenscroft spurred by two goals from Spencer Beller that sent the Ravens into the halftime break clinging to a 3-2 lead.
A completely different Gibbons team came out to open the third quarter with Kevin Barry and Mark Schachte leading a 3-0 run to take its first lead since 7:45 to go in the second quarter. Ravenscroft wasn’t ready to let up its lead, coming right back with three goals of its own from Troy Jones and Beller.
That was when Gibbons started to roll, with Barry, Moran, and Jack Shelton contributing to a 5-0 run that closed the game.
Despite the loss, Ravenscroft defensive captain Henry Atkeson saw a lot of improvement from his squad.
“We finally had a full effort from everyone. The last game against Cary Academy we were dropping balls but everyone this game was dialed in and focused,” he said. “It’s a tough loss but the effort was there and we’re satisfied with the result. The state championship is still number one in our hearts.”
Will Moran’s goal assisted by Mark Schachte with 7:48 to go in the fourth quarter spurred two more goals in the next 1:43 that gave Gibbons a crucial three goal lead.
They said it
“We came together at halftime and came together as a team,” Kevin Barry said. “We call ourselves brothers and I’ll do anything for the guys around me to help the team succeed.”
Three to know
Mark Schachte, Gibbons: Schachte finished with a goal and three assists, including the first two assists of the Crusaders’ 5-0 run to end the game.
Spencer Beller, Ravenscroft: Beller consistently tested Gibbons’ defense on dodges from ‘X’ for the entirety of the night, finishing with three goals.
Kevin Barry, Gibbons: Barry’s time-and-room shot and ability to create space for himself with his legs or through pick-and-pops resulted in a game-high five goals.
By the numbers
13: Before Thursday night, the Ravens had allowed only 13 fourth quarter goals in its preceding 10 games.
6: Saves for Ravenscroft’s Will Bird.
5: Saves for Gibbons’ Anthony Digirolamo.