Hillers take a thriller — Graham ties game with 12 second left, Pettit nets 2OT winner

GLASGOW -- A defensive battle ended with a stunning comeback, as Michael Pettit's goal in double overtime capped Tower Hill's 5-4 upset victory against Salesianum in Saturday afternoon's championship of the Delaware High School Boys Lacrosse Tournament at Caravel Academy.

"This whole year, we haven't been a runaway team," said Tower Hill senior midfielder Ripley Nielsen. "We grind it out. We just kept our composure and we were patient ... just amazing."

It was the first boys lacrosse final to go to overtime, and the second decided by one goal. The other was two years ago when Cape Henlopen upset Salesianum, making that game and Saturday the only two in-state losses for the Sals over the last four seasons.

It was 1-1 at halftime. Top seed and defending champ Salesianum (14-3) led 4-1 through three quarters.


But No. 3 Tower Hill (14-3) was not ready to go home.


Pettit made it 4-2 with 8:34 left in regulation, assisted by Blaise Taylor. The Sals kept the Hillers at bay until Chas Robino scored for Tower Hill at 1:38, making it 4-3.


With 37 seconds left in regulation, Salesianum goalkeeper Dan Rogers saved one Tower Hill shot, but with 0:25 left, an offsides violation against Salesianum gave possession back to Tower Hill. Jake Graham tied it 4-4 with 12 seconds left.


"We knew we could do it," said Pettit, a sophomore. "We had two quick goals [at the end of regulation] and we knew it was ours."

In the first four-minute, sudden death overtime period, Rogers stopped a hard Tower Hill shot at the 2:56 mark. At 0:39, Tower Hill nearly scored but was inside the crease, and the game headed to another overtime period.


After a Tower Hill timeout with 3:15 left in the second overtime, it didn't take long for the Hillers to celebrate winning their second state title and first since 2005.


Robino pumped the ball to Pettit, a pass covering about 15 yards, and Pettit scored from about 10 yards.


"When I beat my man and saw Mikey wide open, I just had to give it to him," Robino, a junior, said about the final play.

Andrew Blundin had two goals for Salesianum, with Dillon Walker and Andrew Salvitti scoring once each, but the Sals did not score in the final 18:47. The game was a rematch of last year's state final.

"Both teams worked hard during the offseason and during the season," the Sals' Rodgers said, "and they deserve it. They played hard, we played hard and they just came out on top. We just didn't play smart at the end, we had two turnovers where we could have had two possessions and it turned into goals [for Tower Hill] and we just didn't capitalize."


Tower Hill's starters on defense were Preston Boyden, Trip Ashley and Stone Lieberman.


After the game, after all the hugs and after all the text messages hurriedly sent to fans who couldn't be there, Tower Hill coach Brad duPont wanted one more picture with the 11 seniors on this year's team -- attackers Graham and Andrew Singles; midfielders Nielsen, Hunter Bolling, Ben Keller, Blaise Taylor and Victor Walker; defenders Boyden, Trip Ashley and Khaalid Lucas, and goalkeeper Demetrius Murray.


As they all posed around the trophy, they all had smiles of course, and duPont's was the biggest of them all.

"I'm not sure I can retire 11 jerseys," duPont said before they took the picture, destined for a dozen scrapbooks.

Tower Hill 5, Salesianum 4 (2 OT)

Tower Hill 1 0 0 3 0 1-5

Salesianum 0 1 3 0 0 0-4

Goals-TH: Pettit 3, Robino, Graham; S: Blundin 2, Walker, Salvitti.

Assists-TH: Taylor, Robino; S: Walker 2, Cowan.

Shots-TH 23, S 28. Saves-TH 10 (Murray), S 11 (Rodgers).

By BUDDY HURLOCK • The News Journal • May 30, 2010

Reprinted with permission of The News Journal