SWARTHMORE, Pa. – The Haverford College men's lacrosse team is headed back to the Centennial Conference Tournament for the first time since the 2011 season following a thrilling 7-6 victory at rival Swarthmore on Saturday. The Fords (7-7, 4-4 CC) trailed the Garnet (8-6, 3-5 CC) by a 5-2 score late in the third quarter of the de-facto playoff game before closing the contest on a 5-1 run during the final 17-plus minutes.
Haverford got two goals from both Brian Geffroy and Jack Sollee, while Isaac Krier totaled a team-best three points, all on fourth quarter assists, during the playoff-clinching day. Stephen DeLeo had a multi-point afternoon with a goal and an assist, while Ben Frost and Patrick Girard found the back of the cage for the Fords as Haverford finished with a 33-22 advantage in shots.
The Fords struck for the game's first goal as Geffroy tallied just over three minutes into the contest. Haverford led each of the final three periods in total shots, but the Garnet held a 7-3 advantage during the first quarter. Nevertheless, that advantage was almost completely nullified as Dylan Slack made five of his eight saves during the first 15 minutes. Swarthmore got its only goal of the first with 4:50 to play.
The Garnet took a 3-1 lead in the opening half with two second quarter goals that were less than a minute apart, the second coming on a man-up advantage. However, Geffroy's second goal of the opening half – and 10th this season – cut the Fords' deficit to a single goal after 30 minutes.
Like the second quarter, Swarthmore scored the first two goals of the third, this time tallying at the 12:54 and 9:23 marks. That 5-2 Garnet lead held all the way until there was less than two minutes remaining in the third before a man-up goal from co-captain Girard sparked the Fords. His 13th goal of the season made the score 5-3 with 1:17 remaining in the period off the ninth assist this season from DeLeo. Just 53 seconds later, fellow senior Sollee tallied his first goal of the day to make it just a 5-4 Swarthmore lead heading to the fourth.
During those final 15 minutes, Haverford peppered the Garnet defense with a 13-2 advantage in shots. It was the lucky third shot of the period from Sollee that leveled the game at five-all with 13:18 to play as he scored his seventh goal of the year. The Fords took the lead with just under 11 minutes to play. This time Geffroy got the attack rolling with a caused turnover to give the Fords possession. Ultimately the ball ended up in the stick of DeLeo for his 19th goal of the season.
However, Swarthmore was not going to go away quietly as the Garnet snapped Haverford's 4-0 run and tied the game at six with a goal that came with 7:39 remaining in regulation time. Slack was called on to make just one save during the fourth quarter, but it was crucial as it ultimately gave the Fords possession for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. His save came with just over four minutes in regulation time.
The Fords put Swarthmore under heavy pressure with four shots wide of goal during that nearly three minute ensuing possession. Frost finally put one on target and that was all the Fords needed as his 19th goal of the year gave Haverford the 7-6 lead with 1:37 left in regulation. Krier accounted for all three of the Fords' assists during their fourth quarter goals and finished the regular season with 12 helpers.
Swarthmore won the ensuing face-off and had the final possession, but ultimately it was a player in the crease looking for the potential game-tying goal that resulted in Swarthmore turning the ball over with just eight seconds to play before the Fords were able to play keep away for the remaining time.
With the victory, Haverford will now continue its season in the Centennial Conference semifinals at top-seeded Gettysburg on Wednesday. The start time for that playoff contest will be announced on Monday morning.