Ball movement was not an issue for the Shenendehowa boys' lacrosse team in the first half Tuesday afternoon against Christian Brothers Academy. The Plainsmen worked the ball well against the Brothers' zone, yet had little to show for it.
A sluggish first half on offense did not sit well with some of the team's captains, and Shen coach Jason Gifford credited assistant coach Bobby Karl for honing in on what needed to change. The major talking point was "pace of play."
"I felt that really changed in the second half," Gifford said. "We played with more pace, and it is harder to stay with the ball when we're playing faster."
The trio of Pierce Holohan, Eric Makhatadze and Tommy Sullivan helped the Plainsmen match a season high with seven goals after intermission as Shenendehowa rallied to a 9-5 road victory in Suburban Council action.
The Plainsmen (5-2 overall, 5-0 Suburban Council), the 2016 Section II Class A champions and an honorable mention selection in this season's first state poll, trailed 3-2 at halftime.
Holohan said the captains did a lot of talking at intermission.
"We've played down in the first half all year," Holohan said. "We just had to have a spark with a couple of plays. Once we scored one, we started rolling."
Shenendehowa broke away by scoring the first five goals in the second half, including four in the third quarter, with Holohan and Sullivan each tallying two.
"The third quarter showed a little bit more of what we're about," Gifford said. "The face-off guys did a great job of getting us the ball in the second half. That's where it starts. We were patient with the offense, but playing with more pace."
The crisper ball movement created more space to shoot. Sullivan and Holohan both scored on perimeter shots from the top.
"I think we lost a little focus in the third quarter and gave up a couple of long shots," CBA coach Rich Scully said. "They were good shots and good goals. That is something that will happen in that zone."
"In our zone offense, we had to be quicker and look for more cutters," Holohan said. "We did that in the second half."
Makhatadze, a sophomore attack, showed his passing flair by registering four assists (three straight in the second half) to push his team-high total to 16.
Holohan was the main beneficiary of the ball movement. The junior midfielder, who entered the game with four goals, tallied five goals Tuesday.
The Brothers used goals from Luke McMahon, Amir Taylor and Jake Manion to establish their halftime lead.
Shenendehowa senior goalie Anthony Tebbano finished with 17 saves, including a few big stops in the third quarter when the Plainsmen took control.
"I let in a few I thought I shouldn't have, but the guys did a great job of controlling things in the second half," Tebbano said.
"We're working hard on scoring goals. That's a good goalie," Scully said of Tebbano. "It is a learning curve for us. We're carrying a lot of kids, and we're really young in some spots."
"Anthony has been the glue this year," Gifford said. "We have a lot of new kids in new roles. It is a puzzle and a work in progress. If we have to win a one-goal game, we can do it with Anthony. Hopefully, the offense can keep getting better so we can give him a little bit of a break."
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