GREENVILLE — Saint Mark’s stayed close to Tatnall in their first-round matchup in the DIAA boys lacrosse tournament for nearly three quarters, but the fifth-seeded Hornets scored three goals in quick fashion toward the end of the third quarter on the way to a 13-4 victory over the 12th-seeded Spartans on May 24.
This was the Spartans’ first trip to the state tournament since 2015. They finished the season 10-6, which represents the most wins for the program since 2013.
Tatnall won the opening faceoff and held possession for much of the opening first seven minutes. Saint Mark’s goalie Logan Gibbons was spectacular all afternoon, and he kept the game scoreless with at least four saves during that opening stretch.
The Spartans took advantage of their first real opportunity. They got the ball deep in Hornets territory, and David Astfalk came out from behind the net and sent a bouncer to the far side.
The Hornets got on the board with 4:09 left in the quarter on a pretty play. Rashan LaMons got the ball in Tatnall’s defensive end. He sped up the field and whipped a pass to Ben Smolko, who immediately hit a cutting Jackson Farwell. After a faceoff win, the Hornets ran about a minute off the clock before Farwell struck again. Smolko added a goal in the closing seconds of the first for a 3-1 lead.
The teams went back and forth in a tight, physical second quarter. Both teams delivered and absorbed hard body shots, with some offense sprinkled in. Luke Spoor of the Spartans scored the first goal, coming out from the X position at the 8:32 mark and scoring on a turnaround shot. Nathan Sabol answered for the Hornets two minutes later, hitting an open net after a fantastic stop by Gibbons. The goalie kept the Spartans close with a series of saves, and it paid off with 3:09 left in the half when Spoor scored on a man-up situation.
Tatnall added a goal in the final minute to take a 5-3 lead into the break. This time, it was Jace Banks, who took a pass from LaMons and slipped a backhand shot into the net.
The physical play continued into the third quarter, along with Gibbons’ strong netminding. Smolko got the second-half scoring started with 4:18 remaining in the third, tucking the ball into the net after a Spartans turnover. That seemed to get the Tatnall offense going. LaMons scored 29 seconds after Smolko and again before the end of the third to stretch the lead to five.
The Hornets scored in the opening minute of the final quarter, then added four more later in a span of four and a half minutes. Saint Mark’s added one more in the final minutes.
Tatnall will play at No. 4 Wilmington Friends on Saturday at a time to be announced.
All photos by Mike Lang.