LOWER GWYNEDD — So many times in the past Wissahickon and Upper Dublin High athletic contests have resembled championship prizefights, with two quality opponents pounding away at one another.
Wednesday night's Trojans-Cardinals boys lacrosse game was no different. Only this time, the favored Cardinals knew they were in for a slugfest. And that's what they got.
A three-goal, first-period lead quickly disappeared when the Trojans counterpunched brilliantly.
And the fight was on.
But the Cardinals maintained their cool, did a little counterpunching of their own in the third quarter and hammered out an 8-4 decision, maintaining their unbeaten ways in the Suburban One League's American Conference.
"We knew Wissahickon would come in here punching,' said Cardinals head coach J.P. Banks. "And when they tied the game in the second quarter we could have gotten down, but we didn't.
"Like a good fighter, we took the punches and came back. And our guys played an excellent second half.'
The first quarter gave every indication of an Upper Dublin blowout.
The Cardinals got a pair of goals from Evan Scott and a pair of assists from Nick Vernacchio, outshot Wissahickon, 10-1, and led, 3-0.
"We just wanted to come out and work on the things we felt we could execute well,' Banks said.
But the Trojans fired back. And when John Esposito, Patrick Magdalinski and Alex Ortiz (in the final 15 seconds) all scored in the period's final 5:08, suddenly it was a game.
The Trojans were pumped, but the visitors stayed calm.
"We knew they weren't going to stay down,' Scott said. "It was like a fight and we knew we had roll with the punches if we were going to wind up on top.'
The Cardinals struck back - and did so quickly.
First it was Scott, off a brilliant feed from Michael Sowers, who found the net 45 seconds into the second half.
Next, Sowers fired home an unassisted goal from inside 10 yards and Michael Mullen polished off the three-goal run with a goal, from Sowers, at 5:33.
For good measure, Ryan Siwinski scored with four ticks of the clock remaining in the third period.
By then, the Trojans were wobbly, and the Cardinals had plenty of punch left.
"We just needed to capitalize on the kinds of missed opportunities we had in the second quarter,' Scott said. "I think we were pressing a little in the first half, but we relaxed and took it all in and came back better.'
Upper Dublin played a possession game in the fourth quarter, while its defense limited the Trojans to shots from distance.
Zach Hanson's goal with 2:31 left in the game left little doubt as to the winner of this donnybrook.
"Offensively, we got great looks and in the second half we were able to score the ball,' Banks said. "Our defense did a great job and Bobby (goaltender Bobby McPeake) played well.
"We did all the things we needed to do to beat a good team like Wissahickon.'