Nation Ford wins lax shootout, advances in playoffs

Herald correspondentApril 3, 2013 

— Hard work, defense and maybe some yoga could be the reason.

But with just 10.9 seconds left, Nation Ford senior Alex Skidmore scored the game winner as the Falcons won its first boys lacrosse playoff game in just its second year, 10-9 over Spartanburg.

The win was the first playoff win of any boys sport in the high school stadium, since it opened in 2009.

Coach Brian Holland joked with his team afterward that the yoga the team did Monday at his wife, Lisa’s, yoga studio Belly Guru Yoga in Pineville, N.C., could have helped them in their win.

“We aren’t done yet,” Holland said. “We have got a lot of work left, but at the end we were composed and played good solid defense.”

The Falcons had seen Spartanburg earlier this season, beating them 7-4 in the middle of March when the Vikings made the trip to Nation Ford. This time Holland expected a closer game.

“(Spartanburg) played much better this time around,” he said. “It was harder on our defense.”

Nation Ford, the No. 4 seed, now plays the winner of Greenville-Christ Church on Thursday.

Spartanburg coach Dan Minkin said his team was up and down all night.

“We didn’t get off the bus well,” he said. “Nation Ford is a good team. Those close ones are hard to lose.”

With Nation Ford leading 9-6 with just under eight and a half minutes left, Spartanburg came back with a vicious rally to tie the game.

The Falcons added to their lead again 37 seconds into the final quarter as senior Cameron Gibson scored to make it 8-6 in Nation Ford’s favor.

Nation Ford kept the momentum swinging in its direction as Skidmore shot a rocket past Spartanburg keeper William Valainis just three minutes later.

Just when it looked as if the Falcons were going to cruise, Spartanburg junior Robert Grier scored, breaking a 5-0 run for Nation Ford. The goal gave Grier a hat trick for the night.

Spartanburg sophomore Chappell Bauknight made it even closer as the Vikings pulled within 1 two minutes later as he made it 9-8. Then, with just over two minutes left, Spartanburg junior Shaw Camp tied the game.

After a disappointing second quarter where they were shutout, the Falcons rebounded in the third quarter to do the same to the Vikings. Nation Ford cut Spartanburg’s lead to just one as senior Jake Couchenour scored 37 seconds into the third quarter to make it 6-5. Couchenour then tied it four minutes later to secure the hat trick for himself.

Nation Ford junior Matt Moore gave the Falcons the lead again, three minutes later.

The Vikings owned the second quarter. Spartanburg tied the game at four 36 seconds into the second quarter on a goal by Bauknight. The Vikings tried to slow things down in the second quarter after tying it up by slowly and methodically moving the ball inside and then kicking it back out front if they didn’t see an opening to shoot at.

Nation Ford struggled making passes and catching the ball as the Spartanburg defense aggressively attacked the ball handler and ended up getting ground balls off Falcon turnovers.

Spartanburg took its first lead of the game with about 4:30 left in the first half on Grier’s second goal to make it 5-4.

The Vikings extended their lead to 6-4 less than a minute later when junior Hollis Burnett scored, forcing a Nation Ford time out.

The Falcons wasted no time in establishing their offense to open the game. Nation Ford struck first just a little over two minutes in as junior Jack Nelms put it up 1-0 after going up the middle.

Couchenour got into the action just under a minute later to put the Falcons up 2-0 as he scored.

Spartanburg took its first time out of the game just under four minutes into the action after Gibson scored for Nation Ford scored again.

The Vikings’ Grier came out of the break to put Spartanburg on the board.

Nation Ford, in return, notched a goal from Skidmore with about two minutes left in the first period.

Nation Ford 10, Spartanburg 9

Spartanburg3303-9
Nation Ford4033-10

Goals: Spartanburg – Robert Grier 3, Will Shea 2, Chappell Bauknight 2, Hollis Burnett, Shaw Camp. Nation Ford – Alex Skidmore 3, Jake Couchenour 3, Cameron Gibson 2, Jack Nelms, Matt Moore.

Shots on goal: Spartanburg 23, Nation Ford 22.

Saves: William Valainis (S) 6, Matt Quill (NF) 5.

Record: Spartanburg 8-5, Nation Ford 9-4.

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