MILLTOWN – St. Mark’s cut Wilmington Charter’s lead to one goal in the school’s boys lacrosse matchup on April 11, and the Spartans still had several minutes to forge a tie. But the Spartans could not get the equalizer, and the Force went home with a 4-3 victory.
It was a one-goal Charter lead at 3-2 early in the fourth quarter when Pat Stella took a pass from Richard Lynch and beat Spartans keeper Billy Pierce to extend the lead to two. A few minutes later, Pierce made one of his many saves on the afternoon to keep the margin at two, and it paid off. St. Mark’s gained possession on a Force violation, and Justin Pepe took the ball on the restart. He didn’t stop moving until fighting off one check and firing a shot past Charter keeper Santiago Londono.
Pierce made two impressive saves after that goal, but St. Mark’s – as it had all afternoon – struggled with turnovers and ground balls. After the first save, an outlet pass was intercepted, burning precious time off the clock. An errant pass ended the Spartans’ possession following the second of those saves.
Still, the Spartans were not done. They regained possession twice more after Charter turnovers, but on their final chance, and without a visible clock counting down the time, the horn sounded before they were able to get a shot off.
Charter controlled the pace most of the game, and the Force played deliberately, working the ball around the perimeter. With a delayed penalty awaiting the Spartans in the first quarter, Stella of Charter opened the scoring, taking a pass to the right of Pierce and shooting high. St. Mark’s was penalized after the goal, and the Force took advantage. Jack Murray found the net from the top of the crease for the man-up tally.
Pierce played a role in the first Spartans goal. With the Spartans fighting off another penalty, he picked up a loose ball in front of his net and found Sebastian Salazar in stride past midfield. Salazar drove in and bounced one past Londono. Pierce kept the score 2-1 by stoning Murray a minute later, and Salazar tied it up shortly before halftime by taking the ball after a timeout, driving and beating the goalie low to the far corner.
Lynch had the only goal of the third period, and it ended up being the game-winner. He sent a left-handed shot through a screen and into the net. Pierce kept it close with several outstanding saves for St. Mark’s, which spent much of the period shorthanded.
The Force outshot the Spartans, 31-7, while improving to 6-1 on the season. Londono had three saves. Charter takes a four-game winning streak into its next game on Tuesday at home against First State Military at 3:45 p.m.
For the Spartans (2-3), Pierce finished with 15 saves. Their next game is Saturday night at 8 against Caesar Rodney at Wesley College in Dover as part of the Dave Reynolds Lacrosse Festival. The Spartans’ girls team plays CR at Wesley at 6. The Spartans boys and girls both played the Riders last year in the festival.