RICHFIELD — Westlake’s championship dreams got a rude awakening thanks to the juggernaut that is University School lacrosse.
The Demons played well early in Saturday’s Division II regional final at Revere’s Joseph F. Pappano Stadium, scoring two of the first three goals and leading for much of the first period.
But the Preppers proved to be too much to handle, pulling away for a 13-6 win and their ninth consecutive trip to the state semifinals.
Westlake (14-5) took a 1-0 lead on a goal from Adam Fife just 95 seconds into the game. At the 6:58 mark of the first quarter, Adam Sandor’s man-up goal made the score 2-1. Paul Columbro assisted both goals.
“We had a great first quarter and the second and third were probably two of the worst periods we’ve played all year,” Westlake coach Brian Stepanek said. “University School played almost a perfect game today. Jack Fisher is as good a coach as there is in the area. He has his team ready for these types of games and you saw that today.”
University School (11-5) took a 3-2 lead with 2:47 to play in the first on a Tyler Flynn unassisted goal.
The Preppers never looked back.
Midfield Mark Samar and attack Clarke Jones each scored two goals in the second period as University School extended its lead to 8-4 at the half.
“We came out hot but I don’t think any of our players are used to this kind of intensity and spotlight and eventually it got to us,” Sandor said. “We improved a crazy amount this season. It’s been nice to be able to come this far. There was a lot of new energy in the program this year. They’ve been here before so they knew what to expect. We were a little shaky at times.”
Jones scored a game-high six goals to lead the Preppers.
“We were patient on offense and made sure each possession ended with a good opportunity on goal,” said Jones, a high school All-American and the Division II Northeast Region Player of the Year. “We’ve had our fair share of tough games this year so we knew we just had to stay patient and our chances would come.”
The Preppers continued to dominate possession in the third quarter while forcing eight Westlake turnovers. By the end of the period, they had a 10-4 lead and were able to cruise into Wednesday’s state semifinal against Chagrin Falls.
Thanks to midfielder Sammy Sords, University won the faceoff battle 14-9. Although Sords practiced with the team all season, he didn’t play in a game until more than midway through the season because he was the lead in the school’s musical in late April.
“Sammy made a commitment to the team because he knew he could help us now when it mattered most,” Fisher said. “Those possessions he won for us were critical to our success today. We set high standards for ourselves and we needed to play our best today to defeat a quality Westlake team.”
Junior Nate Greenberg led Westlake with two goals while Columbro finished with a goal and four assists.
“I would not have come to Westlake if I didn’t think these guys were capable of doing what they’ve done this year,” said Stepanek, who just completed his first year as coach. “It’s OK to be happy today but we can’t be satisfied. We have to be ready to go to the next level. We had a great group of seniors from top to bottom this year. They set the standard for next year and beyond.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
University School 13, Westlake 6
University School 3 5 2 3 — 13
Westlake 2 2 0 2 — 6
Goals: (US) Jones 6, Mead 3, Samar 2, Flynn, Adams. (W) Greenberg 2, Sandor, Bechtel, Columbro, Fife.
Assists: (US) Flynn 2, Jones 2, Samar 2. (W) Columbro 4, Fife.
Goalkeepers: (US) Ganzhorn 7 saves. (W) Freedman 13 saves.
Man-up situations: University School 1-4. Westlake 2-4.