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Birthday boy Burt belts out winning chorus for Haverford School

Birthday boy Burt belts out winning chorus for Haverford School

by Matthew De George

NEWTOWN SQUARE — Even though Tuesday was Wills Burt’s birthday, the Haverford School junior midfielder was in a giving mood at a crucial juncture of a rivalry showdown with Episcopal Academy.

In overtime, though, Burt was more than willing to receive a charitable feed from teammate Teddy Malone. And knowing what to do with it, he set the stage for a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” in a joyfully rainy post-game huddle.

Burt set up Colin Zeller for a goal with 90 seconds left in regulation for Haverford School’s first lead of the second half, then finished Malone’s feed at 1:15 of overtime to send the Fords to a 10-9 win over Episcopal. The first goal was a thing of beauty, the second an act of faith.

Burt, a University of Virginia commit, tallied a hat trick, including the first goal of the fourth quarter to get Haverford School even at 6 apiece. Burt’s ability to dodge down the left channel and shoot or dish proved crucial in unlocking Episcopal’s compact zone defense, a look the Churchmen had switch to mid-possession.

So with the game tied at eight and the clock ticking under two minutes, Burt did just that, getting a glimmer of space and spotting a lane to left-handed attackman Zeller on the right wing. Burt threaded the skip pass through a crowd with pinpoint accuracy, and Zeller hammered it home.

“When they switched to zone, we know the way to beat zones is skips,” Burt said. “They weren’t hitting at the start of the game. They weren’t clicking. But I knew as a team, we’d need to stick with that. … I trust Colin, he’s an amazing left shooter; when I saw (it), I just knew it. So I threw it.”

The Churchmen tied the game with 58 seconds to play. Out of a timeout, middie TJ Lamb stepped past his man and lasered a shot under the bar that goalie Chuck Caccuitti had no chance on.

That gave Burt a chance to win it. EA goalie Nash Womack needed to collapse on an Avi Mehl shot to send the game to the extra session. The teams traded chances before the Fords steadied the ball for an extended look. Malone wrapped behind the cage and looked to be in trouble on the right wing, but he eyed Burt through a tangle of limbs and sticks, trusting Burt would get to the pass he flicked off.

“Teddy’s a [great] a player,” Burt said. “We were kind of staring at each other for a quick second, I knew he saw me, and I love him for throwing that.”

Burt’s goal resolved a chess match between rivals in an Inter-Ac as deep as ever in talent, with Malvern Prep out in front of a crowd of chasers. Early on, EA had the edge, leading 4-2 after one quarter. Lucas Slate scored goals in the final seconds of the opening two frames, executing lethal sneaks from behind the cage. Lamb, the Cornell commit who registered two goals and two assists, had the only goal of the third, going 5-hole for a 6-5 lead.

Womack was tremendous, with nine saves, helping a defense that starts two freshmen and is learning on the fly.

“We’ve been working together all season,” said Matt McCarthy, a Penn signee and lone senior of the bunch. “It’s been a work in progress but I think we’re getting there. As the season goes on, we’ve been building our chemistry. I thought we came out strong today, but it just didn’t go our way.”

EA also weathered the absence of All-Delco faceoff man Andrew McMeekin. The Princeton signee missed his first game with a wrist injury. While understudy Will Hohn battled, he was overmatched by Haverford School’s Ben McCarthy. One of the top sophomore faceoff men in the nation, McCarthy went 17-for-22 at the X, winning eight of nine draws from the start of the fourth on.

“It gives you confidence, especially as a team,” McCarthy said. “And watching the people around you, everybody’s getting hyped. It fills you with confidence and lets you play your best.”

“Andrew is a phenomenal player, so we miss him a lot,” Matt McCarthy (no relation) said. “I think Hohn stepped up to the plate really well today, and he fought for us.”

The Fords needed time to manifest the possession advantage. They took the lead for the first time at 6:16 of the second quarter on a Ryan DiRocco goal, then didn’t score until Burt’s goal 49 ticks into the fourth. Mehl, the other left-handed howitzer rotating with Zeller, tallied a hat trick and set up Malone’s goal to tie it at eight.

EA kept on the pressure. Paul Buckley and Charles Kraftson scored twice each, putting EA up 7-6 and then 8-7, respectively. They compensated for sophomore Dylan Jaszcz being kept scoreless by a Fords’ defense led by Will Costin and Pat Gillin.

That performance, and the steeliness in playing from behind away from home, made it a character win for the Fords to cap the first rotation through the league schedule.

“We just tried to stay poised,” Burt said. “It started off rough in the first quarter, but after that, we kind of got a hold of it. And as our coach says, once you crack a zone, it kind of flows. And that happened for us today.”

In the Central League:

Radnor 12, Marple Newtown 4 >> Max Goldstein and Nick Lucchesi scored twice each, and Ryan Goldstein paired a goal with two assists for the Raptors, who led 7-1 at half and never looked back.

Damien Bogsch dished a pair of assists, Jack Welsh stopped 18 shots and the Tigers had four different goalscorers.

Springfield 15, Haverford 5 >> Tyler Gougler and Matt Dickinson scored four times each, and Colin Hannigan scored to augment ta 16-for-18 performance on faceoffs as the Cougars led 10-1 at half and cruised.

Quinn Carson registered a hat trick for the Fords.

Conestoga 15, Penncrest 6 >> Jason Poole scored three times, and Brennan Kaut paired a goal with four helpers, but the Pioneers pulled away with an 8-1 margin in the second half to blow open an otherwise tight affair.

Read more at PA Prep Live >