Ethan Powley’s plan for his senior lacrosse season at Paul VI took a serious detour in the second game of the spring when he took a helmet to the chin on a fluke play against Georgetown Prep and broke his jaw in two places.
The longstick midfielder had been planning for matchups with some of the top offensive players in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. With his jaw wired shut for the next five weeks, Powley instead dealt with an entirely different challenge, learning to take his meals through a straw.
Powley pushed through a trying recovery, getting his nutrients during the first stretch from protein shakes, meal replacement drinks and once a pureed Chipotle burrito. All the time, he kept his focus on a late-season return for a final playoff run.
“Every time standing on the sideline, watching practices — It was tough,” Powley said. “I was just kind of trying to hold in my feelings. I knew I’d be back when it counts.”
On Thursday, Powley’s patience paid off. Eight weeks removed from the injury, the Duke commit helped second-ranked Paul VI beat DeMatha, 13-8, in Fairfax to punch a ticket to its first WCAC tournament final.
Senior Connor Murphy scored five goals and senior Logan Aunon added three goals and four assists as the Panthers blew past the Stags to earn a matchup with top-ranked Gonzaga in Monday’s final at the University of Maryland. The Eagles, winners of three straight WCAC tournament titles, knocked off No. 10 St. Mary’s Ryken, 19-5, in the other semifinal.
The Panthers (18-2) pulled away from the Stags (11-8) after halftime, scoring four straight goals in the third quarter to break a 5-5 tie.
The burst included two goals in the final 12 seconds of the period. After senior Chris Camararca scored to make it 8-5, senior Will Biagi won the ensuing faceoff and fed Aunon, who caught and fired in one motion for another tally six seconds later.
Following a lightning delay, Paul VI extended the advantage to seven goals. At the final whistle, the Panthers formed a jubilant pile near midfield to celebrate the historic victory.
“It means the world for all of us to finally be competing for a WCAC championship,” said Murphy, who scored four goals off assists from Aunon.
Earlier Thursday in the District, 11 players scored in Gonzaga’s convincing victory over St. Mary’s Ryken. Senior Alex Corboy had three goals and three assists, and the Eagles (18-2) held the Knights (14-6) scoreless until the final minute of the third quarter in a dominant effort.
Ireton, Good Counsel advance to girls’ final
Bishop Ireton junior goalie Olivia Cole had to endure a 30-minute lightning delay in the middle of the second half on Thursday, but she waited it out and blanked Holy Cross after halftime in a 13-5 victory in Alexandria that sent her team to the WCAC final for the first time since 2009.
The Florida-bound netminder made six of her 11 saves in the second half against the defending WCAC champion Tartans with four of those stops coming off free position chances.
The Cardinals (16-4) closed Thursday’s game with six straight goals and will meet third-ranked Good Counsel (16-3-1) in Monday’s final at the University of Maryland. The Falcons, who had their run of eight straight titles ended last spring, beat O’Connell, 20-4, in Olney behind five goals and two assists from All-Met midfielder Caroline Peters.
“We design our defense around having a good goalie,” Bishop Ireton Coach Rick Sofield said. “We’ll give up shots as long as they’re tough shots that we know Olivia can save.”
Sophomore Kelly Mathews scored two of her game-high four goals during a run of six straight goals in the first half that gave Bishop Ireton the lead for good against Holy Cross (13-7).