Blazers advance to second round of playoffs
With the fate of their season in their hands, the Blair boy's lacrosse team stepped up their play and defeated the Einstein Titans 8-2 in the first round of the playoffs. For four quarters, the Blazers played one their most complete games of the season, and Friday night's victory set up a Saturday afternoon game with Wooton in the second round.
The lacrosse playoff format, which draws matchups by chance, not according to seeding, suited Blair, which was fortunate to draw a match up with the Einstein Titans, one of the five teams they had beaten in the regular season. Oddly, Blair drew a match up with Einstein in last year's playoffs, won, and then played Wooton in the following game. The Blazers are hoping history won't repeat itself, considering that Wooton smashed Blair 17-1 in last year's second round.
However, on Friday night, all eyes were on the present, not the past, as the Blazer's played a consistent and focused game on both ends of the field and were able to convert shot opportunities into goals.
Senior Josh Henkai led the Blazer offense with three goals, while senior Aaron Simon added two, and sophomore Ben Kastner, freshman Elliot Gold and junior Matt McClain scored one apiece.
The Blazers appeared to be a more collected and focused team than they were over a month ago, when a last-second shot propelled the Blazers to victory in the team's first meeting with the Titans. In that game, turnovers as well as time in the penalty box resulted in a game that shouldn't have been as close as it was. However, tonight, the Blazers managed to stay out of the penalty box and, with relentless pressure, were forcing turnovers, not committing them.
On offense, the Blazers were finding scoring opportunities inside and open shots on the perimeter. From Keller's acrobatic drive and finish to Simon's 20-yard blast, Blair left the Titan defense looking like Swiss cheese by the time the final horn sounded.
Blair was just as effective on defense, mopping up any ragged attack that Einstein could assemble and quickly transitioning to the offensive set. Junior goalkeeper Robbie Ginsberg also prevented a potential momentum-swinging goal at the end of the first half by deflecting a close-range shot as time expired.
Henkai attributed the high-pace that Blair had set early on in the game as one of the key elements in the victory. "The key was we out-ran them on every play and out-hustled them to each loose ball," he said.
These unsung aspects of the game, winning ground balls, playing physically, and forcing turnovers instead of committing them were just a few elements of the game that Blair had been lacking in games earlier this season, but were evident tonight.
Senior captain Dietrich Hoefner also credited the defense with preserving the victory and preventing any chance of a run or late-game heroics for the Titans. "We locked up on defense and played a solid style of [defense] out there," he said.
The Blazers will look to continue their playoff run when they play Wooton at home in the second round tomorrow afternoon.
Phillip Allen. Phillip Allen is a CAP junior who basically is a fascinating kid. Though he possesses little writing ability he was accepted to both the Communication Arts Program and now Silver Chips Online. He follows the Washington Redskins, Wizards and Nationals religiously. He plays soccer (for ... More »
Ethan Kuhnhenn. Ethan Kuhnhenn is a junior in the Communication Arts program and is entering his first year as a SCO staff member. When he's not fishing in his new bass boat, you can probably find him at Taco Bell chilling with his best friend, the cheesy ... More »