The Hillers dropped six of their first seven games before recovering to earn the No. 9 seed with an 8-7 record.
Make that 9-7.
Tower Hill rallied from an early two-goal deficit to defeat No. 8-seeded Brandywine 8-7 in a first-round matchup Saturday night at A.I. du Pont High.
The Hillers next face top-seeded Salesianum (13-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Baynard Stadium.
"We've come a long way, to go from the outhouse to the penthouse, though we're not quite at the penthouse yet," Tower Hill coach Brad duPont said.
"To be 1-6 and to be where we are, the kids have really come together."
Ross Liberati scored three goals for Tower Hill, including the game-winner with 2:20 remaining. Christian Clay and Chris Kalamchi added two goals each, while Evan DeDominicis also scored.
But it was Liberati who put the game away with a stellar shot past Brandywine goalie Connor Mishaw.
"It's a testament to all the hard work we've put in," Liberati said. "We never got down this season, even when we were 1-6. We were 1-6, but everyone knew we were a good team. We got one win, then two, and it went from there.
"We never give up. I'm proud to play with every one of these kids on this team."
Tower Hill trailed 3-1 before coming back with five consecutive goals. The last three goals came on the power play.
With the score 3-3, Brandywine's Conor Hayes was assessed a three-minute penalty for an illegal stick. Kalamchi and Liberati scored during that penalty, and DeDominicis added a goal following a separate infraction.
The Bulldogs (13-4), however, scored the next three goals -- one by J.J. Nemecz and two by Mike Ryan.
Clay put the Hillers ahead 7-6 early in the fourth quarter, before Ryan notched his third goal with 2:48 left.
Just 28 seconds later, Liberati scored the final goal to send the Hillers into the next round.
"We've won all year with a lot of heart," Liberati said. "This team doesn't give up."
Tower Hill is a young team led by Liberati.
"We really have an inexperienced group this season," duPont said. "Ross did a little bit of everything for us. When he plays well, like he did [Saturday], the young guys follow. We need Ross to play well and be that sparkplug so the young guys can follow along."
Brandywine finished its season 13-4.
"I'm proud of my kids," Brandywine coach Kurt Crock said. "They should be proud, too. They advanced to the playoffs and had a great season. It was a tough loss."
Tower Hill 8, Brandywine 7
Tower Hill 3 3 0 2-- 8
Brandywine 3 1 2 1-- 7
Goals-TH: Liberati 3, Clay 2, Kalamchi 2, DeDominicis. B: Ryan 3, Barba, Hayes, Nemecz, Lengel.
Shots-TH 20, B 35. Saves-TH 10 (Kluger), B 16 (Mishaw).
Posted Sunday, May 20, 2007
Reprinted with permission of The News Journal
Photograph - Ginger Wall