Much like the girls lacrosse team, the boys team recently completed the best regular season in school history at 13-5 which earned them their first ever state tournament home game tonight. Just like the girls, the Hilliard Darby Panthers were standing on the opposing sideline aiming to end the Elks’ season.
In the first quarter, the two teams played outstanding defense and the lone goal was scored by the Elks. After 12 minutes of intense action, the score was just 1-0, but the excitement and tension were at a very high level.
In the second quarter, the Elks scored about three minutes in to stretch their lead to 2-0. The Panthers answered with a goal on a delayed penalty call which was initially stopped, but trickled across the goal line. Following a costly turnover, the Panthers tied the game at 2 a couple minutes later. The Elks responded late in the second quarter and, as time expired, were clinging to a 3-2 lead. Both teams headed to their respective locker rooms looking to make the necessary adjustments to earn them the win and allow them to advance in the state tournament.
Early in the third quarter, the Panthers suffered a terrible turnover off a bad pass in their own end of the field. The Elks were in the right place at the right time and scooped up the ball and scored quickly to stretch their lead back to two at 4-2. The Panthers responded a few minutes later with two goals in less than a minute to tie the game at 4. The Elks were then called for a penalty. A great defensive play was wasted by a bad pass turnover in their own end and the Panthers made them pay with a quick goal to take a 5-4 lead. That would be the score as the two teams went to their respective benches at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was much like the first in that both teams continued to play incredible defense. The Elks finally broke through when Austin Bacon scored with 2:38 left to tie the game. Following a faceoff win, the Panthers were stripped of the ball by the Elks defense. A frustrated defender was then called for two, one-minute slashing penalties with 2:14 left in the game. Knowing they had a man advantage for up to two full minutes, the Elks played stall ball and ran the clock down before going on the attack. With just :37.6 seconds left in the game, Mason Meilinger beat the goaltender low and the Elks were back in front, 6-5. During the time the Elks were running the clock down, the now frustrated Panthers committed yet another penalty, meaning they would finish the game one player down. Refusing to give up, they won the ensuing faceoff and called a timeout with :31 seconds left to try to set up a play which would tie the game and send it to overtime. What they drew up worked perfectly and a sensational pass put one of their attackers behind the defense in a one-on-one situation with goalie Sam Wentz. With just eight seconds left in the game, the Panther ripped a shot toward the net in an attempt to tie the game. Wentz made a spectacular save and the Elks collected the loose ball and cleared the offensive zone as time expired setting off a wild celebration on the sidelines and in the stands. It was an absolutely fantastic finish to an incredible game.
With the win, the Elks are now 14-5 on the year and have earned another home game. That will come Friday night at 6:00 when they welcome Hilliard Davidson to Alumni Stadium. Let’s get a huge crowd out on Friday night to send this team into the third round.