BY J. PATRICK EAKEN & DEB GILL-SNOW | MIRROR SPORTS — The Anthony Wayne boys lacrosse team won its first-ever Northern Lakes League championship in an outstanding demonstration of persistence and determination against defending champion Perrysburg last week, winning 10-9 in overtime.
Twice the Generals were down by three goals and twice they came back to force the game into sudden-victory overtime.
“During our second game versus Perrysburg, we made plenty of mistakes and gave them plenty of extra possessions throughout the game,” said AW coach Ross Mellgren.
“Our team never gave up and really displayed our resiliency at the end of the game. Down by three goals in the fourth quarter when they could have given up, they played some of the best lacrosse I’ve seen all season.
“Tanner Wixey scored three goals in the fourth quarter to eventually tie the game with 13 seconds left. The fact that each of those goals was assisted is a testament to our team’s overall effort, selflessness and great team play.”
The Yellow Jackets struck first at 8:39 with a goal by Nick Johnson. AW responded with a Nathan Aranyosi shot on the run to tie the game at 1-1.
Perrysburg’s Jacob Peats and Parker McManus each found the back of the net to take a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Generals found themselves down by three goals as Perrysburg scored early in the second quarter, but they didn’t quit.
AW junior Tanner Gill-Snow was able to fire the ball past the Jackets goalie twice to bring the Generals within one with 2:49 remaining in the half. Wixey then scored with 50 seconds to go to tie the game at 4-4.
With three seconds remaining, Perrysburg’s Ty Lincoln scored to give his team a one-goal lead at the half.
Scoring was even in the third quarter with Jack Wyper getting on the board and Wixey adding his second of the night for AW. Perrysburg added two of its own to end the quarter 7-6 in favor of the Yellow Jackets.
Perrysburg scored two goals quickly at the start of the fourth and the Generals found themselves down by three with time ticking down. Again, they did not give up.
The AW defense shored up and did not allow another goal for the rest of the game. The offense kept working to exploit weaknesses in the Yellow Jackets defense.
Finally, with 3:39 to go, the Generals’ persistence paid off. Wixey was able to fire not one, but three goals past Perrysburg’s goalie to tie the game with 16.4 seconds to go. At the end of regulation, the score was 9-9.
“Once we made it to overtime, I told my faceoff guys to do everything they could to get the ball and that I would immediately call a timeout once we got possession,” Mellgren said.
“The faceoff guys did exactly as I asked and won the battle for the ground ball. During the timeout, I just told the guys to run our offense and that this will be the last possession of the game because we are not giving them the ball back.
“The offense did just that. We had multiple looks at the cage and never turned the ball over. The final goal came when Jack Wyper saw that he had the matchup, called his own number and finished when the sliding defender was late.”
Overtime in lacrosse is four minutes long with the first team to score taking the win. AW took possession at the faceoff and controlled the ball the entire time.
Getting great looks at the goal, the Generals relentlessly fired shots at the net.
With 1:55 to go, Wyper found the opening he needed and put the ball in the net.
With that goal, AW won its first-ever NLL championship, remaining undefeated in the league with a record of 7-0.
Anthony Wayne fired 36 shots on goal, led by Wixey (five goals, assist), Gill-Snow (two goals, assist) and Wyper (two goals).
On defense, Nolan Bishop had eight ground balls, Alberts and Jacob Walters had four GB each, Hans Rudolph had three GB and goalie Myles Leeds recorded eight saves.
AW 13, Southview 2
With the NLL championship safely in their back pocket, the goal for the Generals in their last game of the season was to remain perfect in the league with an 8-0 record in the regular season finale.
AW methodically went after that goal, holding the Cougars scoreless through three quarters while putting up two, three and four goals through quarters one, two and three, respectively.
Southview was able to find the back of the net for two goals in the fourth quarter, but AW scored an additional four to add to its lead, taking the game by a score of 13-2.
Defensive efforts by Alberts and seniors Leeds and Alec Kwiatkowski, along with the rest of the team, prevented Southview from getting off clean shots.
On the offensive end, in their last regular season game as Generals, seniors Wixey (4), Wyper (3), Aranyosi (2), Gabe Facenda (2) and J.P. Matthews (2) combined for 12 of the 13 goals against the Cougars. Gill-Snow rounded out the scoring with one.
Anthony Wayne was to begin tournament play by hosting Perrysburg on Tuesday. A win would send AW, the No. 5 seed in the region, against the Lewis Center Olentangy-Strongsville winner on Friday, May 18 at a site and time to be announced.
The JV team finished up an outstanding season last week with wins against Perrysburg (12-3), Clay (14-6) and Southview (10-5).
“We came through with our promise to have a better year than we did last year,” said AW coach Logan Kuharchek. “Last year we finished 8-3, but this year we finished 15-1-3.
“We had some really great games for our young guys and they really impressed all of us. Their ability to learn so quickly and improve so fast was incredible.
“It’s always hard to watch our seniors go, but our future is very bright and I know our young players are capable of filling the seniors’ shoes.”
The Perrysburg game saw seven different players score. Reid Dunavant led the way with five goals, followed by Caleb Dachenhaus with two.
Marcus Villagomez, Connor Pollex, Jacob Kahl, Colby Williamson and Spencer Johnson each added one.
The defense was led by Nate Recknagel and Nick Jaekle, while goalie Logan Neumann had seven saves.
Against Clay, the Generals offense was able to net 14 goals. Leading all scorers were Trey Molnar and Dunavant with three, followed by Marcus Perretti and Kahl with two goals each.
Additional goals were scored by Jon LeGrand and Johnson.
Defensive efforts were led by Pat Miller and Nate Recknagel.
In the last game of the season, AW continued to show its dominance both offensively and defensively, defeating Southview by a score of 10-5.
Perretti scored six times against the Cougars, with Dachenhaus adding two goals. Jacob Walters and Jacob Kahl rounded out the scoring with one apiece.