By Marty Farmer
The Fenwick and Oak Park and River Forest boys lacrosse teams added another compelling chapter to their rivalry on May 1 at Oak Park Stadium. Fueled by seven unanswered goals early, the Friars held off an inspired late comeback by OPRF to earn an 8-7 nonconference win and bragging rights.
Nobody appreciates the rivalry more than Fenwick head coach Tim Duffy, also a former lacrosse star at OPRF.
"OPRF is my alma mater and also [Fenwick assistant coach] Seth Molek's," Duffy said. "When these teams play, the games are always high intensity with a lot of energy and emotion. When we got a big lead, I told the boys that OPRF wouldn't give up and they didn't. Luckily, we kept fighting and held on for the victory."
Added first-year OPRF head coach John Terretta: "Our players and Fenwick's players have grown up together and many are friends. We respect them as athletes and school, but whenever we play them, all friendships aside, we're there to win it. Furthermore, Coach Duffy and I have become friends and plan on working more collaboratively in the off season."
Juniors Andrew Kibler and Anthony Rorres each scored a goal within the first three minutes of the match to give OPRF a 2-0 lead. With 5:35 remaining in the first quarter, senior attacker Alex Lambert scored a goal to trigger the Friars' seven-goal spurt. Danny Condron and Jimmy Donahue contributed a goal each within the first six minutes of the second quarter to put Fenwick on top for good at 3-2. Lambert added three straight goals, extending the Friars' lead to 6-2 with 1:44 remaining before halftime.
Sophomore midfielder Patrick Donahue tacked on a goal with a great shot as he was falling down that sailed past OPRF goalie Joey Pasternak, which made the score 7-2 with 42 seconds left in the half. Fenwick dominated time of possession and outscored OPRF 6-0 in the second quarter.
The second half, however, was a different story as the Huskies picked up not only their intensity but offensive production. OPRF outscored the Friars 5-1 in the second half and held the explosive Lambert scoreless.
"They shadowed me and double teamed me a bit," said Lambert, who will play at Illinois Wesleyan next season. "We worked the ball around well though and finished the game strong."
Junior midfielder Seamus Blaha ignited the Huskies' second-half surge by scoring on a shot at the 10:03 mark of the third quarter. Junior central attacker Danny Hanley also found the back of the net with a goal at 2:07 of the third to cut the Friars' advantage to 7-4.
In the fourth quarter, a shot by Ken Van Spankeren trickled past Fenwick goalie Elliot Edmunds to make the score 7-5 with 10:37 remaining in regulation. With momentum clearly on the Huskies' side, Condron netted a clutch goal at the 4:24 mark of the fourth to give the Friars some scoreboard breathing room at 8-5.
"Tommy Morrone found me on the last goal, which was obviously a big moment in the game," Condron said. "It could have been any one of us scoring that goal. I was just in the right spot at the right time. Our man-down defense really won the game for us."
Although Hanley scored two more goals over a span of 33 seconds to draw OPRF within 8-7 in the closing minutes, Lambert fittingly ran out the last 14 seconds off the game to preserve the edge-of-their-seat victory.
"Our main goal was to come out and punch them in the mouth and be the more aggressive team," Hanley said. "We changed up our offense a bit [in the second half] to give people better looks at their goal, but Fenwick won the time of possession overall which killed us.
"It's a great rivalry that's been going on for years. I'm already looking forward to playing them next year, and hopefully we'll come out with a win next time."
The Friars' victory on Saturday snapped a four-game losing streak against OPRF. Lambert led Fenwick (6-8) with four goals and two assists, while Condron contributed two goals and two assists. Midfielders Patrick Donahue and Jimmy Donahue added a goal apiece, defenseman Robbie Helm had six ground balls and Edmunds finished with 15 saves.
Lambert (40 goals, 16 assists), Condron (20 goals, 16 assists) and Helm (70 ground balls) also lead the Friars statistically on the season.
Hanley scored three goals for OPRF, which lost another 8-7 heartbreaker against Deerfield Saturday at Oak Park Stadium. Although OPRF is 2-11 under Terretta, the team has several promising younger players.
"This is definitely a building year," said OPRF junior midfielder Ian Mahanes, who leads OPRF in assists. "We're kind of short on seniors, but I think we're doing pretty well with what we have. We've had some injuries, too. I think we have talent, so it's really just a matter of continuing to work hard and maintaining a positive mindset."