As they walked onto the field for the start of overtime, still stinging from Chaminade's stunning three-goal rally in the final 1:58 to tie it, Mike Laviano looked at his St. Anthony's teammate Eamon Campbell and said, "We've got to do it again." To which Laviano replied, simply, "Yes."
The Friars' Kyle Buser won the critical faceoff to start the extra period and after a little scurrying around looking for a good shot, Laviano fed Campbell in the slot for the game-winner in host St. Anthony's 9-8 victory over Chaminade Thursday night in a typical thriller between the longtime CHSAA powerhouses and archrivals.
"Instant classic," St. Anthony's coach Keith Wieczorek said. "You can't give that team an inch. That comeback was absurd. That's a proud program."
Of course, that's also true about St. Anthony's, which improved to 11-3 and had lost to Chaminade (12-3), 11-10, on April 15.
"It's always down to one goal when it's Chaminade and St. Anthony's," said Laviano, who had a goal and two assists. Campbell scored two goals with an assist and Chris Buscemi scored two goals. Jack Tigh led the Flyers with three goals and two assists and Brendan Kearns also had a hat trick for Chaminade.
It was Kearns' dramatic goal while falling down from in front of the cage with 2.1 seconds left that forced overtime and completed an improbable rally. Buscemi had scored an extra-man goal off a loose-ball scramble to give St. Anthony's a seemingly safe 8-5 lead with 1:58 left.
But with 1:11 left, St. Anthony's was flagged for a one-minute, non-releasable unsportsmanlike penalty that opened the door for Chaminade. Mahon scored to make it 8-6 with 51 seconds left and Tigh netted the second man-up goal with 12 seconds left to cut the deficit to one. Brendan Luu won the faceoff that led to Kearns' equalizer.
"I felt like we dominated the action but they almost stole it from us," Wieczorek said. "But I felt good about our chances if we could win that first faceoff in overtime."
After Buser did just that, Wieczorek called timeout to set up what he hoped would be the game-winning play.
"But the first two plays we called didn't work," he said with a laugh. "We just kept moving the ball, got the seal and the pick off the back side."
That tactic had worked for Campbell last year in the second regular-season meeting between the two schools when he also scored an overtime game-winner on a feed from Laviano.
"I'm a righty pusher and he's a lefty finisher," Laviano said. "It was just like last year."
And just like last year and for most of nearly three decades, the teams will once again play for the Class AA CHSAA championship on May 20.
"You can't beat overtime game-winners," Campbell said, "but the big game is in a couple of weeks."