The first semi-final of the day was the #1 Grand Canyon Lopes versus the #4 Chapman Panthers. This Final Four match-up featured two all-around great teams, but most notable for their excellent offenses and defenses.
Grand Canyon, finishing the regular season at 10-1, came into this game averaging over 15 goals per game while Chapman, 14-2 during the regular season, was just shy of 13 GPG. On the defensive side, Chapman has been absolutely dominant this year, allowing under 6 goals per game, while Grand Canyon allowed 8.
How It All Went Down
The Lopes’ Ron Hamwey has been running a clinic against opposing teams at the face off X all year long, so Chapman came out with a LSM to face off, as many teams have this year. I can attest to facing off against Hamwey with a long pole, it still wasn’t an easy task.
The Panthers applied a lot of pressure defensively on the attack duo of Carson Barton and Dean Fairall to start the game. It seems the third attackmen, Drew Dziadyk, was a little jealous of the attention, so kicked off the party with a nice goal to get the offense rolling. Bulldozing through his defenders, Dziadyk scored a hat trick very early in the game and finally after the third goal, Chapman finally started paying a little more attention to him.
The Panthers were off to a very slow start offensively. After a good amount of failed clears, unforced turnovers, and unsuccessful offense, Chris Hermann was able to finally break the seal with a goal. By the time Chapman woke up and started playing, GCU was already up three.
After Hermann’s goal, on the other end Dean Fairall got the ball and ripped a disgusting low-to-high in the absolute corner of the far pipe. This shot couldn’t have been placed any more perfect. The Panthers replied with 2 quick goals in 10 seconds.
After the Chapman LSMs combined for 6 wins on 13 attempts, the Panthers put in their face off specialist, Simon Jenkin, for a bit of relief. Jenkin went on to dominate at the X, with some crafty sweeps, going 8-10 for the rest of the game.
Attackmen Dylan Garner and Steve Koressel took it upon themselves to keep Chaptown in the game. Later in the game, Garner put on the dangles while dodging from X, crossing up his defender to get a completely hands free shot on goal. This put Chapman within three of GCU at 9-6. At the time, this goal looked to be the table-turner for the Chapman squad.
Brandon Suchand had been making some great saves all game for the Lopes, however, there’s not much he can do when Dylan Garner spins around his defensemen at GLE and there’s no slide. A 1-on-1 from that close, at this level, isn’t likely to be a save.
Proceeding this goal, the Panthers transitioned into a 10-man ride and I’d just like to give a shout out to Chapman goalie Brenton Croteau. The energy this guy had the entire game was so fun to watch as he was always coming down on offense, and was so close to scoring. Finally in the fourth quarter, Croteau ran the ball up himself and took it a little past the restrainer before letting it rip! The shot bounced past the goalie and made it a 9-7 game.
The Panthers were able to net one more before Dziadyk, with 45 seconds remaining, put the ball in the back of the net for his 5th goal of the game to make it 10-8. Chapman, applying the double team, left the goal unattended for Barton to put the nail in the coffin with another goal with only 9 seconds remaining, leaving to score to rest at the 11-8 final.[mks_separator style=”solid” height=”2″]
Chapman had a great season, but just couldn’t pull away with this one in the end sending Grand Canyon to their very first MCLA national championship appearance in program history!
Watch more 2015 MCLA Tournament games on the league’s YouTube channel!