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Crusaders snag title from Dolphin boys

Posted on April 13, 2017 by Christian Graves

The FHSAA District 1 Lacrosse Championship last Thursday night between Gulf Breeze High School and Pensacola Catholic was an instant classic — ending with the Crusaders scoring two goals in the final minute of the game to win the match 8-7.
“We knew we had a good team,” Head Coach Scott Bartowski said. “We’ve been telling the guys throughout the season that [the loss] was probably a mistake, the only game that counts is the last one for us.
“So I told them to shake off the first two losses they had against Gulf Breeze and play their game,” he said.
The Dolphins came into the match at the top of the conference table with an undefeated 9-0 record and was the only District 1 team who was able to beat second-place Catholic (8-2) in the regular season, delivering the Crusaders’ only two district losses.
Nick Mann put the Crusaders on the board in the 3 minute of the match when he received a pass inside the crease while he was surrounded by defenders, finding enough space to get a nice shot off past Cole Foster to put Catholic into a 1-0 lead.
Gulf Breeze responded with a flurry of shots on goal, setting players up around the box while they held possession in Catholics’ half of the field. The Dolphins’ breakthrough finally came from Nick Daly’s lead pass to Harold Hill, who streaked across midfield and slung a hard shot past the feet of Jack Bartowski to tie the game 1-1 with 4 minutes left in the first period.
Patrick Fisher doubled the Dolphins lead 45 seconds later when he sent a feed pass to Noah Haas inside the crease, where he turned a defender and hurled a hard shot between Bartowski’s legs and into the back of the net.
After the goal from Haas, Catholic tightened up on defense and began to more aggressively contest every ground ball. Mann was on the top of his game in the first half, scoring a hat-trick to help the Crusaders jump into a 5-3 lead by halftime.
The lead was short lived for Catholic, as Gulf Breeze came back for the second half with a renewed vigor. Haas picked up possession from the opening faceoff of the third quarter and stormed toward the Catholic goal, juking defenders Zach Fredrickson and John McDowell to put a nice bounce-shot past Bartowski to make the score 5-4.
The teams would continue their back-and-forth play until the last 5 minutes of the match when Fisher sent another pass to Jake Molina, who found himself in a one-on-one situation with Bartowski and kept calm under pressure to give the Dolphins a 6-5 lead. The two players would connect again 2 minutes later when Fisher popped a short ball to Molina inside the crease, who dodges a Catholic player and slips the ball past Fisher with a well-controlled shot as he was falling to the ground.
Luck struck for Catholic 30 seconds later when the ball was turned over to the Crusaders after it rolled out of the box with under 2 minutes remaining. William Hollis took advantage of the possession and sprinted toward the Dolphin goal, scoring a nice solo effort with just over a minute left on the clock to tie the game 6-6 before a goal in the final 30 seconds would win the match for Catholic in a thrilling finish.