Sewickley Academy breaks tie with 4 seconds left to top Mt. Lebanon, advance to PIAA girls lacrosse semis

Saturday, June 5, 2021 | 6:32 PM

Sewickley Academy led for only 4 seconds Saturday, but it was the last four.

Elsa Gordon scored off a pass from Emma DiSantis for what proved to be winning goal to give the Panthers their only lead of the game in an 18-17 comeback victory over Mt. Lebanon in the PIAA girls lacrosse quarterfinals at Shaler.

It was Gordon’s fifth goal of the second half and capped a thrilling finish for the Panthers, who trailed by as many as four goals on two occasions.

“We were slowing down the ball, and then I looked at the clock and saw we had 10 seconds left and knew we had to go,” Gordon said of the final possession. “Emma and I had done that play before in practice, so I knew what she was going to do. When I got the ball I just put a little fake on then shot it in.”

The Panthers got revenge on the Blue Devils after losing to them 13-10 in the WPIAL semifinals and, in the process, advanced to the PIAA semifinals for the first time in program history.

They’ll play and Manheim Township on Tuesday at a time and site to be announced for the right to play for a state title.

Mt. Lebanon had possession in the final minute looking to break the tie but turned the ball over after a defensive stand from the Panthers, paving the way for Gordon’s winner.

Panthers coach Chelsea Cameron did not call a set play on the final possession.

“That was them,” Cameron said. “They were creative. They know who to play together. Prior to that, we had a defensive mindset, because we knew how much time was on the clock and that we needed to get a stop, and we did. We got a fast-break opportunity and took advantage of it. It was beautiful.”

Mt. Lebanon got an eight-goal performance freshman standout Addison Murdoch, and older sister Reagan Murdoch scored five times.

The Blue Devils led for the majority of the game, but a couple of turnovers late opened the door for the Panthers to rally.

“It was the same as the championship game against Shady Side: We couldn’t hold the ball at the end. It just wasn’t our year I guess,” Mt. Lebanon coach Brian Kattan said. “We had an opportunity to take the shot and didn’t get it done. We’ll regroup. It’s a young team that will learn from this. I do feel bad for our seniors, though, because they have been great leaders all year.”

Mt. Lebanon jumped out to a 5-1 lead early, but a yellow card on Reagan Murdoch gave Sewickley Academy a 2-minute power play, and they scored three times.

DiSantis had two of the goals, and Ellie Zack had the other.

“The first time we played (Mt. Lebanon), we were down 5-0 early, and we said to ourselves that we weren’t going to have that type of game again,” Gordon said. “We had to turn it on, and that’s what we did.”

Mt. Lebanon took a 10-7 lead into halftime, but DiSantis and Hughes scored 29 seconds apart to jumpstart the Panthers.

From there, the teams traded goals and were tied three times. Gordon had a natural hat trick that turned a 12-9 score into a 12-12 tie.

Part of the success in the second half for Sewickley Academy was a higher rate of wins on the draw that gave it extra possessions.

“We were trying to change the draw a lot to see what was going to work, and then it always comes down to who outhustles who on the 50-50 balls outside of the circle,” Cameron said.

DiSantis led the Panthers with six goals, and Hughes had five. Megan Cain added a pair of goals for the Blue Devils.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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