There were still more than 10 seconds left in Monday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys’ lacrosse championship when Gonzaga’s Matt Borda stepped behind his own goal to throw a full-field pass. Nursing a one-goal lead, the sophomore defenseman hoped to get the clock moving and all but end the game.
Instead — with the Good Counsel defense pressed up trying to cause a turnover — the heave found the back of the net for an improbable insurance goal that sent Borda sprinting around high-fiving his defensive teammates and got the Eagles on the sideline bouncing. With a second straight title-game comeback for Gonzaga assured, the play proved a well-deserved chance to kick off the celebration of its 10-8 win a little early.
“When that one goes in, you just know you got it — the Gods are on your side,” senior David Planning said. “When that goes in, you just breathe a sigh of relief.”
In a game full of momentum swings, top-seeded Gonzaga scored the last five goals to earn the title at the University of Maryland’s Ludwig Field. Senior Kyle Bruun finished with two goals and an assist, Matt Bowman tallied the game winner with 8 minutes 4 seconds left and the Eagles held the Falcons scoreless during the game’s final 19 minutes.
A year ago, Gonzaga (18-3) needed a five-goal fourth-quarter rally to push past DeMatha in overtime for the title. This time around, the Eagles didn’t score in the first quarter and withstood a five-minute span between the second and third quarters in which Good Counsel (13-5) scored five unanswered. But they did just enough down the stretch to finish the comeback.
“I’m still kind of in shock how we pulled that sucker out,” Gonzaga Coach Casey O’Neill said as his team finished up its on-field postgame celebration around him.
Junior Nolan Fillet, Junior Nick Buonomo and sophomore Graham Dabbs each provided two goals for the Falcons, who upset No. 6 St. Mary’s Ryken last week to earn their first title game berth in three seasons. Senior goalie Pat McEnerney made 12 saves, including several point-blank stops in the fourth quarter, to keep the game close.
Good Counsel led 8-5 after Buonomo’s goal with 7:42 left in the third quarter but did not score again. It had a man-up opportunity for the game’s final 39 seconds after a cross-checking penalty, but did not get off a shot because of a crease violation that led to Borda’s surprising game-clinching goal.
After the final seconds ticked off the clock, most of the Eagles tossed their gloves, sticks and purple helmets into the air before sprinting down to pile on top of goalie Timmy Farrell. Good Counsel players slowly walked to their defensive end of the field to show their respect for McEnerney, a four-year starter, a final time.
“That was unreal,” said junior Connor Reed, who sparked the Gonzaga offense with a goal and two assists. “I still don’t believe it. We wanted to give the seniors their second [title] and pay them back for everything they’ve done for us this season.”