The Springfield Delco lacrosse season nearly ended before it ever truly began. At 1-5 in April, the Cougars could have devolved into finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and chaos.
Instead, the season ended with the school's first boys' state lacrosse championship since 1992.
Saturday afternoon at West Chester East, Springfield Delco held off an at times shorthanded and disjointed La Salle squad, 4-3.
"A dream come true," said senior attacker Mike Gerzabek, who led all scorers with three goals. "Starting the season roughly this year, you never would have thought [we would be here]. We would have been lucky to go a couple games into districts. Coming this far is crazy."
With La Salle minus several starters because of an undisclosed disciplinary problem, the Cougars (20-7) pounced, building a 3-0 advantage with 2 minutes, 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
Explorers coach Bill Leahy said the decision was an "in-house issue."
A few La Salle starters entered the game after Springfield's third goal. Others trickled into the game later. But the Explorers (21-4) never seemed to find a rhythm. Its offense finished the game with 14 turnovers.
Stingy defense by senior Zac Methlie and junior goaltender James Spence, who finished with eight saves, also helped Springfield stymie La Salle's flow.
"I'm just so happy for these guys," said coach Tom Lemieux. "We've said all year that we're not the most talented, but our kids are just tough."
Despite battling an upper respiratory infection all week, Methlie, a Lehigh recruit, was physical all game.
"This game was more important than anything today," Methlie said. "I just tried to put my [sickness] to the side and do whatever I could."
Sophomore midfielder Kyle Long helped build the Cougars' cushion with two early assists.
La Salle senior Jared Walls got the Explorers within 4-3 with exactly seven minutes remaining in the fourth, but the Springfield defense didn't allow many scoring opportunities after that.
"This is the best possible way anyone can go out of their high school career," Methlie said. "It's a great feeling. I'm going to miss this school. Playing high school lacrosse here, I have some of the greatest memories of my life and I'll never forget this experience."
Springfield (Delco) 3 1 0 0 - 4
La Salle 0 2 0 1 - 3
S: Mike Gerzabek 3, Joe DeBernardi.
LS: Jared Walls, Chris Hladczuk, Colin Cahill.
Saves: S-James Spence 8; L-Mike Clibanoff 2, Matt McLaren 2.