The earlier contests of the day set the formula for the last event of Big Game Friday – keep the game close and keep the game low scoring. Foothill may have pushed the envelope on keeping it low scoring but nobody kept it any closer than the Knights did against Torrey Pines. The most compelling statistic from the game was that Torrey Pines didn’t win. Down 7-4 with 12 minutes to play, the Knights outscored the Falcons six goals to two in the final quarter to steal the 10-9 win.
The Knights entered the game 16-1 and ranked No. 3 in the West. Torrey Pines came in with a 9-6 record and in the unfamiliar position of not being recognized in the national rankings. For the first three quarters the fans may have been wondering if the Falcons had inadvertently scheduled the “other” Foothill High School. The Falcons anxious to put a marquee win on their 2015 resumes, jumped ahead 4-0 in the first quarter, led by Henry Hollen’s (Tufts) initial face off win/goal, two goals by attack Jackson Lienhart (Bellarmine) and another by Ara Suhadolnik, before attack Nate Marano (Denver) put in Foothills’s first goal with 2:30 left in the first quarter.
The Falcons’ Marc Lefferdink scored the first of his two goals to give his team a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter as he beat his defender behind the net and found a one-on-one opening against goalie Ryan Blank (10 saves,St. John’s). Only a time-and-room goal by Foothill middie Matt Harris(1g), who drilled a left-handed shot into the top of the net from about 12 yards out, prevented total disaster in the second quarter. That momentum set up two goals by Kevin Kodzis (Holy Cross) in the third quarter to briefly bring Foothill close, trailing 5-4 at the 7:14 mark, but Torrey Pines answered with 2 to end the third up 7-4. The Falcons, whose tone of toughness was personified by Hollen, outmuscled, outpassed and outplayed Foothill up until this point.
But, as in prior games the 4th quarter belonged to Foothill. They outscored Torrey Pines 6-2 in the fourth quarter as Kodzis (3g, 3a) scored his third goal and Drew Boyd(1g) used his speed from behind the goal to bury one unassisted. Torrey’s Lienhart paused the Foothill comeback, but four unanswered Foothill goals provided the margin of victory. Two came from freshman attack Ellis Geis(2g) on well-placed crease finishes. The most spectacular came from long-pole defenseman Matt Marano(4gb,1ta), who intercepted a pass, raced the length of the field and, draped by the Torrey Pines defense, skipped in a goal to tie the game at 8-8. The second Geis goal, started by Julien Marchese’s sprint up the field to feed Kodzis-to-Geis, put the Knights ahead, 9-8, for the first time with 5:43 remaining. Three minutes later, as Torrey Pines swarmed to stop Nate Marano(2g,2a), he cut past two defenders and shot into an open net as goalie Corey Mills came out to challenge him.
Lienhart scored his game-high fourth goal off a turnover to bring the Falcons to within one with 1:43 left. He had a chance for a last-second shot when Foothill’s defensive middie Chris Reem stopped the attempt. Reem and long pole defenseman Jared Copeland (5 gb,2 forced turnovers in the waning minutes) clamped down hard on Torrey Pines in the last quarter, as the frantic pace of this game never slowed.