Sussex Tech downs Lake Forest 24-16 in boys’ lacrosse

FELTON — The Sussex Tech boys’ lacrosse team spent three quarters wearing down outmanned Lake Forest in an opening round state tournament game.

When the fourth quarter began Tuesday night at Lake Forest High, the work paid off for the ninth-seeded Ravens.

Sussex Tech scored seven times unanswered to begin the period and pulled away from No. 8 Lake (11-5). Tech went onto win 24-16, and the Ravens (10-6) advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals matchup against No. 1 Sallies with the win.

“Really, it’s all about the whole team,” senior Jason Whaley said of the late-game run, which including a pair of goals to end the third period was a 9-0 spurt. “Momentum and all, you just really got to keep pushing.”

Part of the reason for Sussex Tech’s late-game success came from its ability to mostly neutralize Spartans senior Austen Aguilar, both as a scoring threat and on faceoffs.

Having defeated Lake Forest in overtime when the teams met for a regular season game two weeks ago, Sussex Tech coach Don Golacinski and the Ravens coaching staff formulated a plan to limit Aguilar’s chances, as well as those by senior Ben Moore.

“We learned that 7 (Moore) and 5 (Aguilar) were great lacrosse players, and you’ll notice today we put long-poles on them,” Golacinski said. “We had no pretenses a short-stick was ever going to be on them.

“We had to neutralize 5, he’s an outstanding face-guy,” the coach added. “Caleb Dennis, we took him off offense and said ‘you’re just going to fogo (faceoff, get off) him.’ And when 5 stated running out of gas, Caleb still had his energy. That, and we put two long-poles on the wing, was the difference in the game.”

Both teams seemingly had plenty of energy in the game’s first three quarters. Each continued to go on mini-runs, with Sussex Tech starting first and jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead on goals by Nathaniel Quillin, Whaley and Nathan Hanenfeld.

Lake Forest battled back and finished the first quarter down just 5-3 before Sussex Tech — which never trailed in the game — went on its second run.

Thanks in part to a pair of Dennis goals, the Ravens pushed their lead to 10-4 with 4:30 left before halftime. But again the Spartans came back, and powered by two Dawaunta Parker goals were able to eventually cut the Ravens’ lead to 10-8 before Tech answered with two scores to take a four-goal advantage into halftime.

The third quarter was more of the same, with Sussex Tech pushing its lead to four only to watch Lake Forest get back to within two and many expected the fourth to play out the same way. Sussex Tech, however, made sure that didn’t happen with its early run.

Although disappointed with the way the season ended, Lake Forest coach Brandon Savage said he was proud of his team for its accomplishments. The Spartans, who are in just their second season as a varsity program, were making the school’s first appearance in the boys’ lacrosse state tourney.

“For a second-year program to make the playoffs, you never expect that,” he said. “But, I think at the end of last season I did start to expect that because you could see the talent getting better every day. (The senior class) put us on the map.”

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