Published Date: 05/03/2010
Editor note: The very popular Tommie alum and former lacrosse player Kevin "Hollywood" Reed was brought back to lend his sideline reporting skills to this key championship game. Thanks again Kevin for providing your view of the game!
In a rematch of a tight regular-season game, the UMLL Conference Championship game featured #1-ranked St. Thomas against #6-ranked St. John's. With both teams hoping for invitations to the 16-team national tournament, they set their sights on the UMLL conference title. The title game was played at the neutral site of Concordia University's brand-new Seafoam Stadium in St. Paul.
St. Thomas entered the match with an unbeaten streak of 21 games and the pressure of being expected to bring another UMLL title to St. Paul. St. John's was out to show that they are one of the top teams in the nation and capable of thwarting their arch-rivals, the Tommies.
First Quarter Action
The game started in the favor of St. Thomas, as senior Tony Sadder scored on a Joe Costello feed to give the Tommies the early lead. The St. Thomas fan’s liked what they saw and assumed it would continue. But it wouldn’t, as the Johnnies defense tightened and both teams' coaches spent a majority of the 1st quarter trying to reign in their excited players. St. Thomas Coach Brian Gross stated, “It’s your typical Tommie-Johnnie game ... all the guys are emotional and come in hopped-up to play. We needed to settle them down.” The “settling down” for both the Tommies and Johnnies would not happen and the score was knotted 2-2 at the end of the first quarter.
Second Quarter Action
St. John's would come out focused in the second quarter and add a smooth transition score early to take a 3-2 lead over the defending National Champions. Sloppy play and disjointed passing would dominate the second quarter. St. Thomas would tie the game back up with a goal from Joe Costello but both teams would still continue to struggle and fail to capitalize on man-up opportunities. With four minutes remaining, St. John's would hit the crossbar and the deadlock would continue right up until the last minute of the half. With seconds remaining in the half, senior Andrew Larson scored and send St. Thomas into the half with a 4-3 lead.
Third Quarter Action
The tide seemed to change early in the 3rd quarter as St. Johns got the ball to a wide-open attack man who had enough time to fake low, fake high and tried to beat UST Goalie Tom Thone down low. But in what was considered the top individual play of the game, Thone kicked his leg out and stopped the ball with a spectacular save. Thone commented on his save, “It all happened so fast. I just felt the ball hit my leg and I was so glad I made the save”. So were the Tommie fans in the crowd of over 600 watching the game.
The big save sparked St. Thomas and ignited a flurry of goals. David Chlipala, Joe McCullaugh and Cooper Mazon all would find paydirt and help the Tommie’s charge out ahead giving UST a 7-3 lead that they took into the 4th quarter. When asked about the 3rd quarter, coach Jimmy Reilly said, “The 3rd quarter was just what we needed. We slowed the ball down and had great possession. We really didn’t have to play much defense.”
The 4th quarter picked up at the same place the 3rd quarter left off. Tony Sadder scored his second goal of the game. St. John's normally strong play misfired a bit as the Johnnies missed passes and struggled in their transition play which frustrated the Johnnies' coaching staff. The Johnnies would briefly rally but that rally would be short-lived as St. Thomas senior Jason King would add two more goals to put the game out of reach. When the final whistle blew, St. Thomas was on top 10-6 and the 2010 UMLL Conference Champions.
UMLL Tournament Honors and National Outlook
Tournament MVP honors went to junior St. Thomas goalie Tom Thone for his great performance. When asked about the honor he remarked, “I don’t deserve this alone. Our defense played great and the midfield played great. This is more of a team award.” Well, this team is really starting to pile up the awards.
Coach Pete Moosbrugger has extended his teams unbeaten streak to 22 games and in that period has won two consecutive UMLL Conference titles, a National Championship and maintained a #1-ranking nationally for the entire 2010 season. When asked about this Coach Moosbrugger said, “Of course it feels good to win. Now we need to prepare for nationals and it's wide open. There are a number of really good teams and it is going to be a very exciting tournament.”
When one reporter pushed coach Moosbrugger harder about the twenty-two straight wins he smiled and said, “Twenty-two is fine ... but we really want to see that streak hit twenty-six.”
A 26th consecutive win, of course, would mean another St. Thomas National Championship!