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May 14, 2010

Deja Vu: Tommies Rally Past Davenport

by Jac Coyne | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Joe Costello (above) and St. Thomas got off to a slow start - a bit of a trend for the Tommies - but managed to rally and rout the Panthers in one D-II semifinal.

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Last year, it was Joey Costello and St. Thomas “riding the wave” after beating Davenport in the semifinals. This year, it’s a more non-secular bent after the Tommies rallied to defeat the Panthers, 17-9.

“We came out and we were too jacked up, but we snapped out of it and stayed calm," said Costello after falling behind to start the game. "One of our team mottos this year has been chopping wood and carrying water. It’s a Buddhist adage. We sat there and said, ‘Man, we’re getting beat!’ But we went back to what we’re used to and it worked out.”

It’s appropriate that it was Costello leading the way on the field in the press room, because this year’s contest felt much like last year’s when Davenport raced out to an early advantage, only to see St. Thomas claw their back into it and eventually pull away.

“Last year we were a slow-to-start team and finished strong, this year we’ve been a fast-to-start team, but for some reason they brought it to us,” said St. Thomas head coach Pete Moosbrugger. “We wanted to get out early on them, but they came out strong.”

Reprising his role of thorn in the Tommies side early in the game was Shawn Beer. The junior registered a hat trick in the first quarter and four markers total, teaming up often with classmate Gavin Morris, who set up three of Beer's goals.

In the end, just like 2009, it was Costello who was the difference. The senior scored five goals, mixing his scores between critical goals to keep the Tommies close and scores that effectively put the Panthers away.

“Joe was a one-man offense at times today,” said Moosbrugger.

Things looked dicey for the Tommies early on. After back and forth action for the first five minutes of the game, which featured unusually sloppy play, Davenport bolted out to a 4-1 lead. Beer scored three of the four, two off assists from Morris, while Lyle Parks added the fourth.

St. Thomas battled back to 4-3 on a Cooper Mazon rip and a man-down goal from Costello, but Beer and Morris went back-to-back to balloon the lead back to 6-3 with 8:35 left in the second quarter.

The remainder of the period belonged to the Tommies.

Mazon started the comeback with another bomb from 12 yards followed five minutes later by strong effort on the crease by Costello, who muscled the ball past Davenport goalie Zach Higgins before taking a big hit for his trouble with 2:44 left. Costello capped his first-half hat trick just over a minute later to tie the game on a running low shot.

Just as it looked like the two teams would head into the half tied, Mazon hit Tony Sadder with hard pass, which Sadder used to beat Higgins high for the 7-6 lead at the half.

It was a lead the Tommies would never lose.

St. Thomas picked up right where it left off to open the second half, as Ryan Pietsch and Costello scored four minutes apart to balloon the lead to 9-6. The Tommies were about to pull away, but Mother Nature intervened for an hour. Lightning and large hail forced the teams to their locker rooms and the fans scrambling into the upper reaches of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“We started the second half the way we wanted to start the game – win the opening face-off and put a couple in so we could get some momentum. We were able to do that. The worst thing that happened to us was the lightning. I said, ‘Oh, man. We lost all the momentum we had worked for.’”

It didn’t matter.

Davenport’s Jordy Sayers scored two goals sandwiched around a Sadder marker to keep the Panthers within two, 10-8 with 4:36 left in the third. But St. Thomas scored the next four goals bridging the third and fourth quarters, including a pair of scores in the last 18 seconds of the third quarter by Costello and Joe McCullagh.

The Panthers would score one more goal before they were finished off with three goals in the last 2:20 by the Tommies for the 17-9 final.

After a shaky first half, St. Thomas goalie Tom Thone was solid in the second, finishing with eight saves. Zach Higgins, who was critical in the Panthers’ strong start with several key stops, finished with 14 saves in the loss.

Beer led the way for Davenport with four goals while Morris finished with one goal and three assists and Lyle Parks added two goals and a helper. Mazon, Jason King, Ryan Pietsch and Sadder all had a pair of goals for the Tommies.

St. Thomas will look to rack up its second consecutive national title on Saturday afternoon against Utah Valley, presumabley by carrying water and chopping wood.


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