Sabo OT Winner Gives Northwestern Lehigh Boys’ Lacrosse 1st District Playoff Victory

Drew Sabo scored the biggest goal in Northwestern Lehigh’s four-year men’s lacrosse history on Tuesday.

The Tigers eldest got a feed from schoolmate Andrew Collins and hit the bottom of the cage to hand second-seeded Northwestern an 8-7 overtime win over third-seeded Moravian Academy in class 2A semi-finals from district 11 at Emmaüs high school.

The win gives the Tigers (12-7) their first playoff win in their playoff debut. Northwestern advances to meet the Southern Lehigh/Allentown Central Catholic winner in Final 2A at 5 p.m. Thursday at Lehigh University.

“Coming from where we started four years ago, being in the district championship, it’s amazing how the community and everyone has come together around this team,” said Sabo, which started from its first season.

” That says everything. We have worked all season. From the first practice, we knew that was our goal,” added Collins. “We wanted to take care of Colonial League business and then make some noise in the neighborhoods – that’s what we’re here to do.”

Moravian Academy (10-7) won the opening faceoff of overtime, but failed to find the winner despite several shots.

The Tigers forced a turnover and took the ball in the Lions half. Moravian Academy goalkeeper Cristofero Cucciuffo stopped a shot, but Northwestern held on to the ball and called a timeout with 43.2 seconds left on the overtime clock.

Collins, standing behind the cage, found Sabo diving towards the basket. The elder scored, causing a celebratory dogpile, with 16.5 seconds left.

“We released a piece that was designed after that downtime. It didn’t go the way we thought it would, so I found a free space, cut and did what I do,” said Sabo, who finished with three goals and two assists.

“Obviously, I have full faith in my teammates to make the plays that they do,” Collins said. “I saw the defense start to open up, I saw Drew start to go down, and I just fed it to where it needed to go. He caught it and scored.

Neither team trailed by more than one goal in Thursday’s home-and-away semi-final.

Sabo and Austin Sosnovik recorded back-to-back scores to push Northwestern ahead 3-2 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.

The Moravian Academy responded with a pair of strikes courtesy of Gavin Gibbs and Luke Grindrod. Grindrod’s shot appeared to be stopped by Tigers goalkeeper Bailen Smargiassi, but bounced off his stick and raced into the net, giving the Lions a 4-3 advantage with 4:19 remaining in the first half.

Sabo tied the score at 4-4, which went into the intermission.

Gibbs scored all three goals for the Lions in the second half. Collins had both his scores after halftime.

Northwestern, who killed a two-minute locked penalty midway through the fourth quarter, had final possession in regulation. Cucciuffo made a save and a second chance shot was placed in the cage after the buzzer.

Cucciuffo finished with 16 saves. Gibbs scored five goals and second AJ Lozano provided four assists for the Lions.

Gibbs, along with his younger brother Logan, outshot the “X” faceoff 17-2, putting a lot of pressure on the North West defense.

“Our defense has always been phenomenal. They played tonight,” Sabo said. “Our keeper was a brick wall in the cage. Big props on this side of the ball.

The score of 8-7 corresponds to the victory of the Tigers on April 9 over the Moravian Academy. The Lions beat Northwestern 12-7 on May 4.

“Beating them the first time we played, I knew it was possible after that. Losing to them the second time was really the wake-up call we needed,” Sabo said. “We knew we see them later in the year.”

Then Sabo and the Tigers have a chance to make more headlines in the latest edition of the most important game in program history.

“I didn’t really know what to feel,” Sabo said of the moments after his game-winning match. “Excited, anxious, everything happened at the same time. I’m really looking forward to Thursday.

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Kyle Craig can be reached at [email protected].

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