CLAYMONT – Tatnall has been in the boys lacrosse state tournament the last two years, but the Hornets have stepped up their game this season. They improved to 13-1 with a 9-7 win at Archmere on May 14 in a game that could be replayed in the postseason.
The Auks led the low-scoring affair, 6-5, after three quarters, and their goalkeeper, Vaughn DiBattista, came up with a huge save early in the fourth to keep his team in front. No one was able to find the net until the 7:51 mark, when Brett Wilkinson backed his way in against the Auks’ defense, turned and tucked the ball into a small gap on the short side to tie the score.
Wilkinson put Tatnall in front a minute and a half later. This time, he went left-handed from the slot after working his way between a few defenders. It was the Hornets’ first lead since a minute remained in the first half.
Archmere won the ensuing faceoff and did not waste any time leveling the score at 7-7. Cole Bauer took a pass and drove down the right side, and he bounced a shot past Hornets keeper Cole Hiller with 5:51 on the clock.
That, however, would be the Auks’ final tally. Gabe Jensen picked up what would be the game-winning goal at the 3:18 mark, running around the back of the net and finding room to the far side. The Auks turned up the heat in the closing minutes. In one series of offensive possession, they hit the post with one shot and sent two others wide. A turnover finally sent the ball back to the Hornets.
Lain Singer scored an insurance goal with 41 seconds to go, taking a pass from Wilkinson as he cut toward DiBattista and going high. Hiller added one more save with fewer than 10 ticks on the clock, and the Hornets completed the victory.
It was a close game from the opening faceoff, as one would expect from a pair of top-10 teams. Tatnall scored the first two goals of the afternoon, one each from Nate Ruoss and Jensen. Bauer got Archmere on the board at the 6:20 mark, finding the mark as he was being cross-checked. Mitch Moyer fired a long left-handed shot past Hiller to knot the score.
DiBattista made two big saves after that, but Wilkinson grabbed the third-chance rebound and scooped a ball home to restore the Hornets’ lead with 4:25 to go in the first, but the lead was short-lived. Oliver Conaty picked up a loose ball in front of the Tatnall net and tied it again 36 seconds later. Moyer struck again from long distance before the period ended to give the Auks a 4-3 lead after one.
The offense was at a premium in the middle quarters. DiBattista stopped three shots early in the second, but Pen Sailer tied it 4-4 on a bouncer four minutes before halftime. Tatnall took the lead again, 5-4, when Singer scored with 58 seconds to go. That play started with a great kick save by Hiller. Zane Fracek won the faceoff, ran the ball downfield and fed Moyer for his third goal of the half just eight seconds after Singer scored.
Nolan Collins had the lone goal of the third period. Bauer took an outlet pass after a Tatnall turnover and found Collins all alone in front of the net with 8:13 left in the period. The rest of the period included another post hit by the Auks and two fantastic saves by Hiller, including a stoning of Collins from point-blank range in the final minute of the stanza.
Wilkinson led the Hornets with three goals, while Singer and Jensen each had a pair. Ruoss and Sailer added a single goal each. Other statistics were not available late Tuesday night. Tatnall won its sixth straight and will wrap up the regular season at home Friday against St. Andrew’s at 4 p.m.
For the Auks, Moyer had the hat trick, and Bauer added a pair. Collins and Conaty each had one. The Auks lost their second straight to fall to 10-4 and concludes the regular season on Thursday at home against Tower Hill at 3:45 p.m.