By Chris Goldberg
ToplaxRecruits.com, Posted 6/28/21
FREDERICA. Del. – Sidewinders (MD) took an unlikely path to the 2022 AA team championship Sunday at the Victory Events Liberty National Elite Classic at Delaware Turf Complex.
Sidewinders went winless in Saturday’s first day of pool play, going 0-2-1. But on Sunday, Sidewinders barely made it to the playoffs, stunned one top seed, Team11, 7-5, in the quarterfinals, and later won it all with a dramatic 4-3 overtime win over another top seed, Duke’s Elite (PA), 4-3.
Will Mercer (Indian Creek School) had the game-winner early in OT after tying it with 7 seconds left in regulation. Mercer also scored his team’s second goal with only minutes left in regulation.
“We started out slowly yesterday, but we came out and won all four today,” said defenseman John Norsworthy (Arundel High). ” We didn’t give up kept going. down with 10 seconds left get it down there and got it in.”
Mercer scored the game-winner after double-clutching a few times and moving closer on his dodge. Fortunately for him, the defense gave him a little room to shoot.
“At first I was thinking I might be in trouble; but the guy (defender) kind of stumbled and when I pushed back I said, ‘Oh, there’s a lane,’ so I shot it and it was perfect,.” he said.
“It was crazy to win it after starting so poorly. We barely squeaked in the winner’s bracket as the 8th seed and we came out on top.”
Mercer said the Duke’s defense may have hesitated on the game-tying goal. Since no clock is visible, it was hard to know the exact time remaining.
“I saw the defense slacking a little bit,” said Mercer. ‘I think they thought it was over. I looked off and cut and Josh (Martel) found me. I thought I took too long to shot, but it was in time.”
Sidewinders goalie Owen Kane (7 saves, DeMatha) said his team, playing in its first tourney of the summer, began to jell as the event progressed.
“I am very excited to come out in our first tournament and start with a win,” said Kane. “We have been playing together so long, it’s easy to get the chemistry going.
“We used simple lacrosse; know where you’re supposed to be, do the 2-slides, 3-slides, and slide with the body.”
Duke’s took a 3-1 lead in the first half, mainly due to the scoring of massive attackman PJ Oppenheimer, a Marist commit. Oppenheimer had two goals and an assist, using his strength and reach.
“Mainly we needed to focus on their their X attackman, the big guy,” Norsworthy said of Oppenheimer. “We had to lock him up.”
Duke’s won a 7-4 decision over Sidewinders on Saturday, but the defense was better prepared for the title game.
“It’s amazing, it feels great to get the first tournament off with a victory,” said defenseman Hunter Russell (Arundel). ‘It was great team defense. We communicated well together. I feel like we did the little things correctly.”
“It was extremely exciting to win, especially after starting off slowly,” added defenseman Jack Gress (Arundel). “I think we slid more with body and the communication was better today than the first time we played them.”