Boys lacrosse: Crystal Lake Central edges Crystal Lake South
Crystal Lake Central put together a productive first half with Mark Crowley scoring three goals in the first quarter and Michael Cruz putting in three in the second.
So when Crystal Lake South tightened its defense, kept the Tigers from scoring for 14 minutes and scored three unanswered goals to tie the score, Central coach Leo Zimmerman sensed a pivotal moment and called timeout.
Midfielder Michael Cruz set up attacker Ernie Metz for the go-ahead goal with 9:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Gators tied it 45 seconds later on A.J. Fattori's goal, but Cruz scored his fourth goal of the game two minutes after that and the Tigers held on for an 8-7 victory in their Fox Valley Conference match Saturday at Owen Metcalf Field.
"Our coach drew up a fantastic play and we just executed it and put the ball in the back of the net," Cruz said. "I came early and Ernie was wide open. He's a good finisher."
Cruz ran down the left side, drawing two defenders, then passed to Metz racing down the middle. He fired his shot before being checked by two defenders.
Several minutes later, Tigers goalie Joey Joswiak deflected one shot and then grabbed a loose ball in front of the net as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The Tigers ran onto the field and celebrated what was like a Yeti Lacrosse Club meeting.
Many of the players on both teams play with Yeti together when they are not playing high school lacrosse. Players from both teams took pictures together on the field after the game.
"I love playing against people I know," said South midfielder Griffin Baker, who scored three goals. "It's more competitive."
Many of the opponents in the game will be teammates this summer.
"It was awesome. It was good to see these guys," Cruz said. "I haven't played against them since my freshman year, we got the season yanked (by the COVID-19 pandemic) last year. It's good to see all of them, they're tough players."
Central (3-3, 2-1 FVC) got three goals from Crowley in the first quarter and three from Cruz in the second. The Gators (2-6, 0-3) did a much better job defensively after that.
"We really had to identify where the threats were," South coach Jim Krol said. "It was never a matter of heart or hustle, it was just increasing communication and the urgency a little bit. The last 2 1/2 quarters they really stepped it up and we were just a little shy at the end."
Fattori scored the only third-period goal, then scored in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Baker scored 36 seconds later to tie the score at 6-6.
"We were moving the ball better, our offense was clicking," Baker said. "Our defense was a little shaky in the beginning, but we picked it up and held them to two goals (in the second half). Central played really well and we responded really well."
Shortly after Baker's goal tied it, Zimmerman called timeout.
"Griffin Baker is one of the best guys in the conference and was covering our best guys," Zimmerman said. "We stopped going after him. We brought a shorty in for a two-man game and they switched the pick a little poorly and (Metz) got free inside. It was good execution."
Fattori scored his fourth goal less than a minute later, but Cruz came back with the game-winner at the 6:36 mark.
"We stayed confidence, we stayed strong, we listened to our coach and put them in the back of the net when we needed to," Cruz said.