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BUCKNER – A breakthrough season for Oldham County lacrosse will continue at least two more games.
Last month OC beat North Oldham 16-15, marking the program’s first win against a county opponent. The Colonels beat the Mustangs for the second time Tuesday, only this time with much more on the line.
OC came back from a 5-2 hole to beat North 9-7 in the first round of the District 4 Tournament. With the win, the Colonels advance to the district championship Thursday at home against top-seed South Oldham.
Win or lose, OC is guaranteed to play at least one state tournament game next week.
“We knew that North was going to be tough coming in,” OC coach Marcus Lane said. “…The kids, they played today.
“The first half of the game, we didn’t play very hard. But something clicked… The kids, once they start playing, they play well together.”
Tuesday’s game played out a little like the team’s earlier matchup two weeks before.
On that night North took a four-goal lead only for the Colonels to come back in the second half, thanks primarily to an 11-goal effort by OC senior Chad Szczublewski.
Tuesday North took a 4-1 lead heading into halftime, with Ben Lau scoring two goals and Garrison Bullock and Dexter Walters each scoring one.
OC’s Canyon Baze scored two minutes into the second half to cut the margin to 4-2, but the Mustangs responded with a goal 12 seconds later to push the lead back to three goals.
The Colonels had a quick answer.
Taking advantage of a defense keyed in stopping Szczublewski, OC junior Allan Farrow scored to make the score 5-3 in favor of North.
“That left the whole top of the box open for anyone else to shoot,” Farrow said of the Mustang defense’s focus on Szczublewski.
Szczublewski escaped North’s box-and-one defense to score off an assist from Carson Axtell and cut North’s lead to 5-4 with 9:18 left.
Axtell tied the game himself 30 seconds later, scoring off an assist from Canyon Baze to tie the game 5-5.
Farrow gave OC its first lead since the first quarter when he scored with 4:55 to go in the third, making the score 6-5 in favor of the Colonels. He scored again with 1:52 left to push the lead to 7-5.
A Dakota Baze goal with 1:24 left in the third quarter capped a 6-0 Colonel run and made OC’s advantage 8-5.
The offensive burst came as a result of a formation change Lane made at halftime to take advantage of North’s zone defense. OC’s game plan was to sit back the first half in its regular formation before switching things up the final 24 minutes.
“We wanted (North) to get comfortable in what they were doing and then we switched it up a little bit,” Lane said. “We started scoring a lot more goals because of it.
“It was tough sitting there the first half. It was giving me gray hair at 24.”
Once OC took its lead goalie Austin Frerman stood strong between the pipes. He made 19 saves and stopped every shot he faced in the fourth quarter outside of a Luke Skaggs goal with 3:35 left that cut the Colonel lead to 9-7.
Frerman turned away several frantic Mustang shots in the final minutes.
“All the credit to (Szczublewski) the first game,” North coach Ryan Smith said. “He played one of the best lacrosse games I’ve seen from an opponent.
“But all the credit to their goalie today… Scoring has never really been an issue and today it was. Hats off to their defense and hats to their goalie, he played a phenomenal game – by far the MVP of the game.”
Farrow led OC with four goals and added two assists. Axtell had two goals to go along with his team-high three assists.
Szczublewski only scored once but created chances for his teammates and was dominant on face-offs, winning 10 of 14.
Now the Colonels, who’ve recorded their first regular season and tournament district wins this year, will look for their first district title Thursday at home.
OC has never beat South, including two losses to the Dragons this year.
“Winning would mean everything,” Frerman said. “That’s what we’re going to do.”