With about a half-second left in the third quarter, Anthony Brunetti went airborne just in front of the net.

He dived away from the goalie and dunked the ball in the net just as the buzzer sounded.

His Lenape boys' lacrosse team charged the field as if it had just won a playoff game.

In a way, it had.

The goal put the Indians ahead by five scores - clearly more than enough cushion for a defense that was utterly dominant as fifth-seeded Lenape won, 9-4, at No. 4 Cherokee Tuesday night in the quarterfinals of the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs.

"We had the momentum the whole game, and scoring at the third-quarter buzzer really put it over the top," Brunetti said. "With the way our defense was playing, we knew we were in really good shape."

Lenape (12-7) had lost to Cherokee (12-5), 8-6, on April 25 after allowing the Chiefs to mount a late second-half comeback.

The loss stuck with the Indians, and since then, the team implemented a zone defense specifically to stop Cherokee's speedy offense.

"We had trouble penetrating that zone," Cherokee coach Pete Corelli said. "The kids battled, but we just couldn't crack their defense."

Senior defenders Matt Belanger and Casey Fayan looked especially strong in executing Lenape's defensive game plan.

Senior goalie Eric Leonard, the Indians' vocal orchestrator, recorded 17 saves.

"It was an all-around effort," Leonard said. "Our defense played their hearts out. They were constantly forcing them to shoot from the outside, and when they do that, I can make those saves all day. So I give my defense all the credit."

On the other end, Andrew Streilein, Reed Hoffman, and Brunetti each scored two goals for Lenape.

Chris Rispo paced Cherokee with three goals.

The teams finished the first quarter tied, 1-1. But Lenape held possession for much of the rest of the game and methodically built a lead as its defense stumped Cherokee's offense.

Lenape moves on to a third-round matchup at top seed Southern on Thursday.

"We've been stuck in the second round for eight years now," Lenape coach Bill Sutphin said. "We have 15 seniors, and we put the challenge to them. We told them if they wanted to put their stamp on this program, this was their opportunity. And they answered the call."

Lenape 1 4 2 2 – 9

Cherokee 1 1 0 2 – 4

Goals: L-Justin Holl, Andrew Streilein 2, Brandon Sweder, Reed Hoffman 2, Justin Holl, Anthony Brunetti 2; C-Chris Rispo 3, Tyler Martin.

Saves: L-Eric Leonard 17; C-Grey Clarkson 5.

Contact Chris Melchiorre at rallysports@phillynews.com.