The Amherst Tigers’ 2016 campaign ended at the hands of the Sweet Home Panthers. On Thursday night, the Tigers got some sweet revenge.
In a back and forth affair, Amherst got the best of the Panthers with an 11-10 victory in overtime in Section VI Lacrosse action.
It looked like the Panthers had taken control of the game as they scored quick back-to-back goals to take a 10-7 lead with 10 minutes left in the fourth period.
But the Tigers came roaring back.
Andrew Czora found some open room in front of the net and took advantage of the opportunity putting it home. Brandon Bitka took a shot from the left side to bring the Tigers within one goal with 2:30 left in the fourth.
The frustration began to grow for Sweet Home as they took a personal foul. Amherst took a timeout with 1:24 to go.
The Tigers knew they had the momentum and there was no reason to think they couldn’t finish.
“We told ourselves that ‘we can’t up now we’ve come too far’”, senior PJ Wing said. “You can’t give up on yourself.”
After the timeout, Amherst didn’t give up and kept the pressure on the Panther defense. The Tigers were just able to tie it up as Joe Bynre withstood a big hit, spun around and scored with 24.3 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, the Panthers were able to get some offensive pressure going but it wasn’t enough. Wing got the ball from 10 yards out and blasted it home for win.
“We’re not the deepest or the most talented team, but we just want to battle,” Amherst head coach Stefan Henn said. “The last possession we were fortunate enough to get it to the kid we wanted with the ball to take the shot.”
Wing had two goals and an assist in the win.
“It felt amazing,” Wing said. “The whole team has been working hard since the beginning of the season.”
According to his coach the senior defenseman has always been dedicated to the game no what the obstacle is.
“He’s always battling back from something,” Henn said. “He spent the whole summer in the weight room and kept working. His head is always in the game.”
The game got off to a fast start as the Panthers scored three goals within about three minutes. Matt Gadmeske had two goals in the opening period. The senior attacker came from behind the net to score the first goal of the game. Gadmeske converted on a breakaway opportunity for the game’s third goal.
Sweet Home led 4-0 at the end of the first period.
Gadmeske, who is committed to play Lacrosse at Roberts Wesleyan College, scored three goals in the losing effort.
As the teams switched sides, the momentum switched over to the Tigers in the second period.
Bitka opened the period with back-to-back goals. Wing found a wide open Czora in front of the net for the Tigers’ third goal. With less than a minute left in the half, Bitka scored on a back-handed shot to give the Tigers the 6-4 lead.
Bitka ended the game with four goals. Czora had two goals for the Tigers.
Wing extended the Amherst lead to three as he scored from 20 yards out just a minute into the third.
Senior Nate Faller and junior Matt Culp had two goals each for Sweet Home. Sophomore Lucas Marshall and junior Alan Marshall each scored one goal for the Panthers.
Sweet Home head coach John Faller declined to speak with the media after the game.
This year Amherst is inexperienced especially at the offensive end of the field so the plan is to keep things simple for now.
“We’re young and we really only had seven offensive players, so were giving general rules right now and progressing as the season moves forward,” Henn said.
The Tigers will travel to Wilson to take on the Lakeman on Monday. Sweet Home will be back in action on Monday as they host Nichols for a 4:30pm faceoff.