The Haverford School lacrosse team ended a magical season Wednesday night with - what else? - more magic.
Senior midfielder Carl Walrath scored two goals in the final 36 seconds to rally the undefeated Fords to a 5-4 victory over Malvern Prep at Cabrini College in the final of the first Inter-Academic Invitational Lacrosse Championships.
The Fords, powered by a roster featuring 18 Division I recruits, ended their season at 23-0. They have been ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN since the preseason.
"That was a great game," said Haverford coach John Nostrant, whose team had been averaging 11 goals a game in an ambitious schedule that featured games against a number of nationally ranked opponents. "Malvern had a great game plan."
With the Fords' dream of finishing an unbeaten season in jeopardy, Walrath netted his first goal of the game to tie the score, 4-4.
Then with nine seconds remaining, Walrath scored again to thwart Malvern's bid for a huge upset and give Nostrant, a former Philadelphia Wings player who has been Haverford's coach since 1991, his first unbeaten season.
"On the first goal, I just got under the goalie," said Walrath, a University of Virginia-bound attack who finished with 28 goals this season. "The second one, I was lucky.
"It's been a real grind this season. We've played some tough games. This one was the toughest. . . . Malvern is a good team. Even when we beat them twice [during the regular season], they were tough.
"Tonight, I give it to our defense. To hold Malvern to four goals says something."
The Fords, who had beaten Malvern Prep by 7-4 and 11-5 earlier this season, held the Friars scoreless after the first quarter.
Malvern jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first 41/2 minutes of the game. The Friars did not score again after Keith Dreyer found the net with 3 minutes, 7 seconds left in the first quarter.
Senior attack T.J. Hanzsche put the Friars on the scoreboard with an unassisted goal with 10:06 to go in the first quarter. Less than a minute later, another senior, Colin Farrell, made it 2-0.
Sophomore midfielder Chris Hilburn boosted the Friars' lead to 3-0 on another unassisted goal.
Haverford, which didn't get a stick on the ball until 7:13 remained in the opening quarter, finally got on the board with 5:56 left in the period on a goal by Matt Walters, a senior midfielder who has committed to Syracuse.
Grove Stewart, a senior midfielder, put the Fords in a position to tie and win the game when he scored to pull his team to within 4-3 with less than four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Hanzsche said he couldn't explain Malvern's inability to score after the first quarter.
"No. 9 [Walrath] made some great moves," he said. "Our goalies did a great job. We got off quality shots. We just didn't finish."
Malvern Prep 4 0 0 0 – 4
Haverford School 2 0 1 2 – 5
Goals: MP-T.J. Hanzsche, Colin Farrell, Chris Hilburn, Keith Dreyer; HS-Carl Walrath 2, Matt Walters, Brendan McGrath, Grove Stewart.
Saves: MP-Ryan McDevitt 5, Matt Barrett 4; HS-Conor Kelly 6.