For much of the afternoon, it looked like Phoenix Brophy wasn’t going to have too much trouble successfully defending its Division I state high school lacrosse title.
But perennial title game participant Scottsdale Chaparral didn’t make it easy, even getting the ball with 15 seconds left for one last shot at prolonging the state championship match Saturday on its own field.
The shot was knocked away and Brophy held on for a 9-8 win in the club championship.
“We were pretty confident going into this game, it was a close one but we just played Brophy lacrosse and just dominated,” most valuable player Adam Fishman said.
Brophy did seem to have a lot of possession but faced hot goalie Robert Bazlen and kept coming close. Very close.
“It’s tough because you get good shots,” Brophy attack Hunter Rodgers said. “We had about, it seemed like 10 shots off the posts. It’s tough. But in the end we got the ones that mattered.”
The two teams have been in the final the last three years with the squads splitting the previous championship games. Chaparral has been in the title match seven consecutive years, winning four times.
The sport is not sanctioned by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.
“They did some stuff today that we weren’t quite prepared for,” said Brophy coach Derek Drogowski. “I think we did some stuff they weren’t prepared for and we’re lucky we came out on top.”
After falling behind 7-4 at the half, the Firebirds turned it up in the third quarter and were finally rewarded when Andre Haglund got the first of his goals with 3:14 left. Hayden Kimmel found Haglund in front of the crease for another score with 55 seconds left and then Eric Lakin somehow got the ball in the net in traffic with 7:15 remaining to cut the lead to 8-7.
“It was probably one of the better games I have been a part of,” first-year Chaparral coach John Silkey said. “Brophy is a fantastic team and we played our hearts out in the second half and to limit a team like that to two goals (in the second half), I’m proud of my guys.”
After trading goals, Firebird goalie Robert Bazlen kept No. 4 Chaparral (11-6) close with key save after save, finishing the night with 13.
“Their goalie was awesome,” Drogowski said. “We hit a few pipes (posts) and if a couple of bounces go a different way, maybe it’s not quite as close.”
Hunter Rodgers, who had a pair of goals and an assist for Brophy, had a pair of point-blank shots turned away in the final 5:15 and the score 9-8. The second-seeded Broncos (15-1) – whose only loss came to Chandler earlier in the season – had possession with 1:16 left after a Chaparral turnover.
But the Firebirds got the ball back after another shot was blocked and called timeout with 15 seconds remaining. Dan Hayman tried to get a shot off before the buzzer but it was knocked away by the defense to preserve the victory.
“That last shot was pretty scary but I trust our defense, I trust our goalie,” Fishman said.
After losing its last four matches of the regular season, Chaparral beat rival Scottsdale Saguaro in the first round and then pulled off an upset in the semifinal a week ago.
Brophy got by Phoenix Mountain Pointe 11-4 in the semifinals while Chaparral was upsetting No. 1 Chandler 8-3.
Some 20 schools play lacrosse, most in the East Valley and Scottsdale, with four teams in Tucson, and are split into two divisions.