By Michael Rich
Ethan Garland scored a career-high seven goals, including the game-winner to send the Olentangy Liberty boys lacrosse team past district-rival Olentangy 15-14 Wednesday night in Powell.
Garland’s game-winner, which came with 1:37 left, capped a furious finish that saw both teams score four goals in a two-minute stretch late in the fourth quarter.
“We earned it at the end, but it took a lot of effort,” Patriots coach Jason Godwin said. “(Garland is) a senior leader. This was a great game for him — he needed that. We have confidence in him … that’s why he’s out there ripping it.”
Olentangy coach Zach Peterson put his defensive emphasis on other players.
“Because they are such a strong midfield-based team with (Griffin Hughes) and (Johnny Wiseman), we double-poled the midfield,” he said. “We essentially called out Garland and put a short stick on him for a lot of the game.
“He really got into a groove and he made us pay for it. We’ll probably see them again because we’re both in the Northwest Region for the playoffs and I’ll have to re-think the game plan as far as whether we put a short-stick on him.”
“They put a short-stick on me,” Garland said. “I didn’t even have to dodge, I was just shooting into the guy in front of me.”
Patrick Grubb scored four goals to lead Olentangy (4-3), which had a three-goal lead and two two-goal leads throughout the game.
“He’s one of the shakiest kids — just east-to-west lateral movement,” Peterson said. “He fools a lot of people and if you don’t slide to him, he’s going to make you pay. If you do slide to him, he’ll move it to somebody else who will make you pay. He’s a very smart lacrosse player.”
Liberty (5-3) took its first lead of the game since it was 1-0 when Vincent Ramondelli found Grant Uehlein to put his team on top 13-12 with 8:54 left in the game to set up the wild finish.
The finish was apropos for the entire game, which was a see-saw battle throughout.
Jared Wise tied the game with his third goal of the game with 3:40 left on a loose ball that he got enough of to help it trickle into the goal.
Hughes gave Liberty the lead again 1:09 later with his second goal.
“It’s fun — when you play a team like (Liberty) all bets are off,” Peterson said. “A lot of these kids have been playing together since the third grade and big time players make big time plays in big time games.”
Grubb, who had a hat-trick in the first quarter, tied it up again 39 seconds later.
Hughes found Garland for the game-winner, his second assist of the game.
“The effort there to keep that ball was impressive,” Godwin said.
Garland helped the Patriots erase a three-goal deficit late in the third period with a pair of goals, and Wiseman tied it up 12-12 with 14 seconds left in the third period.
“Big games like this come down to mistakes, and right now our team is lacking the ability to finish games,” Peterson said.
Olentangy had taken the lead on a pair of goals by Cam Kennedy and Sam Camacho to lead 12-9 with 4:38 remaining in the period.
“We obviously struggled stopping the ball — lots of transition goals,” Godwin said.
Olentangy led by two goals or more six times throughout the game. Liberty, which has won three straight, was able to tie it up twice before the four straight goals gave them the lead in the fourth quarter.
“Honestly, that was just a season-changing moment for us,” Garland said. “We finally put it all together and everybody did their part and worked hard.”
Garland signed his national letter of intent earlier in the day to attend Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.
Also: Orange 8, New Albany 6.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.