POWELL – Goalkeeper Sam McInturf showed no ill-effects of standing on his head for 48 minutes.
The senior had 12 saves, including a key stop with just over a minute, to preserve the Olentangy boys lacrosse team’s 6-5 upset win at rival Olentangy Liberty in a Division I regional quarterfinal Friday.
“I was really nervous going into that last possession that they were going to score and we’d have to go into overtime,” McInturf said. “I don’t know if our team would have had the legs going into overtime because they have a lot more people than we do. I just thought I had to do everything I (could) to make the save and send us to the next game.”
The game-preserving stop deflected out in front of the goal where Olentangy’s Ryan Hume emerged from the scrum with the ball. Liberty got it back one last time, but the Olentangy defense held the Patriots without a shot as time expired.
McInturf has been on the other side of the scoreboard in this rivalry one too many times. He made three saves in each quarter, including a flurry on Liberty’s last possession of the third quarter.
“I was pretty tired of it,” he said. “I thought that if this is going to be my last game as a senior – I’m gonna come out and play the best I can.”
Sixth-seeded Olentangy was in the midst of a comeback – trailing 3-0 in the first half and 4-1 at the break.
Liberty had ended Olentangy’s season in both years since lacrosse became an OHSAA-sanctioned sport with wins in the regional semifinal round last season and the regional final two years ago.
The Patriots also overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat Olentangy 10-7 May 1, securing an OCC-Buckeye championship, costing its rivals the trophy in the process.
“A lot of the players know that statistic,” Olentangy coach Dan Warren said. “To reverse that and send these seniors out beating their rivals – that’s a good win and it gives us a chance to keep going in the tournament.”
Down 3-0, Khairi Sears scored through contact to get Olentangy on the board with 7:41 left in the half.
“I play a lot of box in the winter,” Sears said. “So, I’m used to taking all of those hits. I’d rather take a hit and win a game than lose your head and lose the game. It’s really about what’s more important – your ego or your team. That’s what I think about most.”
He scored his second goal with 7:51 left in the final period to give Olentangy (12-8) its first lead.
“He’s a very talented player and the box game translates well to the game for him,” Warren said. “He’s able to protect his stick really well. He’s got excellent field vision and he’s unselfish enough to make those passes to open guys which is big time for us. It’s given other guys confidence which has helped us all season.”
It was short-lived. Alex Theuerkauf followed 49 seconds later to balloon the lead once again for the third-seeded Patriots.
Liberty coach Jason Godwin commended Olentangy on its patience – citing Sears as the calming influence.
“They were very patient,” Godwin said. “They never once got antsy and that’s a great sign for a young team. Hats off to Khairi – we gave him the what-for this game. He played really, really well. He was probably the most patient of them all. Him leading by example helped those other guys relax.”
It was on full display when Sears worked around the back side of the goal, cutting up on the right side before dumping off to Evan Parrott, who was cutting through the middle from the top. Parrott pump-faked and found the back of the net to give Olentangy a 6-5 lead with 4:43 left.
“I’m always looking to score,” Sears said. “But I was running away from pressure and I saw a gap in their defense and I just wanted to push that. I saw Evan and he’s a great shooter. He’s always looking for spots to shoot. I saw him and I knew he was going to bury it.”
Parrott had two goals, including the first goal of the second half to start Olentangy’s comeback bid. Hunter Boehm scored with 10:43 left to cut it to one and Aidan Moore found the back of the net off a Brady Ramsey feed to tie it 4-4 with 8:42 remaining.
Tyson Chapman collected a rebound off a pinball and scooped it home to give Liberty a 1-0 lead with 1:08 left in the first quarter. Mason Spaulding followed with back-to-back goals to push it to 3-0 and Andrew Barrett found the net with 3:20 left in the half to give the Patriots (14-6) a 4-1 lead.
Adam Blind was sound in his own right in the Liberty net. He stopped eight shots, including three in the third quarter to slow Olentangy.
“This wasn’t the same season that we’ve had (in the past),” Godwin said. “That’s the earliest we’ve been done in a long time. I think that hunger will feed the younger guys. I think it will fuel what we have for the future.”
Godwin and the Patriots have been battling injuries all season, losing as many as 10 with all but one season-ending. Jacob Kessler broke his finger in Liberty’s league title-clincher against New Albany.
“The last injury to Kessler was just the nail in the coffin for the offense,” Godwin said. “They fought though – which was great. We proved all year that we’re a team with depth – which is nice. Eventually, luck runs out and bounces go the other way, pipes get thicker and the (opposing) goalie stands on their head.”
Olentangy advances to play second-seeded and host Dublin Jerome in a regional semifinal Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
Medina 9, Delaware Hayes 5
Connor Prenger had two goals and Blake Eiland and Sam Lagando added one apiece, but the Pacer offense never quite found its form in Friday’s Division I regional tournament loss to visiting Medina.
Tyler Carney finished with 12 saves in the Hayes goal.
Also: Columbus Academy 15, Big Walnut 10
Maddie Garner was next to unstoppable, pouring in a game-high eight goals while assisting on another to lead Olentangy to a 21-10 win over visiting Delaware Hayes in the second round of the Division I regional tournament Friday in Lewis Center.
The Braves, who got five goals from Kenzie Sklar and four from Katie Berbrick, outscored the Pacers 13-6 in the first half and 8-4 in the second to smooth out the scoring summary.
Abby Derick had six saves in the Olentangy goal while Gabrielle Weckerley had 12 saves for Hayes.
Piper Adkins led the Pacer offense, finishing with six goals in the season-ending setback.
Next up, Olentangy will take on visiting Olentangy Liberty Monday at 7 p.m.
Also: Olentangy Liberty 16, Perrysburg 7
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.