Thursday was tough, yet encouraging for the Lakeside High School boys lacrosse team.
With only three seniors on the squad, the Panthers faced a Hammond Skyhawks team ranked as the No. 2 team in South Carolina. The Panthers held leads of 4-3 and 5-4 in the fourth period, but couldn’t close it out, losing to the Skyhawks 6-5.
It looked like the teams would play their second overtime game in as many years when the Skyhawks’ (3-0) Charlie Black took the ball out from just beyond midfield with 16 seconds to play. He worked his way to 10 yards in front of the Panthers net and fired in the game-winning goal, his fourth goal of the night, with 4.2 seconds left to play.
“Heartbreaking,” said senior attacker Christian O’Gorman when asked to describe the close loss.
Head coach Ron Ritter liked the way his team responded after taking its first loss the previous weekend.
“You can’t ask for a more exciting game,” said Ritter. “They’re hard to lose. From Saturday to today we were two different teams. Saturday, we played horrible. We watched film and figured out what we did wrong.”
Up to the last five minutes of the game, when the Skyhawks scored three goals, the Panthers’ (3-2) defense was stellar, shutting down the Skyhawks’ attack. Panthers sophomore goalie Jared Broder made 26 saves, several from point-blank range, and the defense killed off five of eight Hammond power-play opportunities.
“I thought they did a great job,” said Ritter of his defense. “To keep this team to five or six goals is good.”
After a first period in which they turned the ball over seven times, the Panthers were still in the game trailing just 2-0.
Striking quickly to start the second period, the Panthers tied the game in under a minute. Junior captain Alex Bowen worked his way through the defense and scored from straight on with 20 seconds elapsed. Sophomore Jack Benton then won a groundball to the side of the Skyhawks’ net, flashed across and put the ball in at the 11:11 mark.
Trailing 3-2 in the third period, O’Gorman scored twice in just under a three-minute span to give the Panthers its first lead with 6:21 left in the period. The second came on a precise power-play.
Bowen started on the right side of the Skyhawks net, passed to Niko Hatzigeorgiou at the point who quickly found O’Gorman on the left side of the formation where he lasered it in.
Despite the tough defeat, O’Gorman liked what he was seeing from the team.
“We came together this game,” O’Gorman said. “The defense really stepped up, the offense was moving, we were all talking. We’re really starting to come together.”