Almost as soon as they dug themselves out of one hole, the St. Joseph's Prep Hawks fell just as deep into another.
After rallying from an early four-goal deficit, the Hawks again came back from four goals down in the second half Saturday and overcame Manheim Township, 11-10, in overtime in a PIAA state boys' lacrosse quarterfinal at Spring-Ford.
Junior midfielder Blaine Fleming scored the winner from the right of the net. The shot tucked so neatly into the side of the net that there was a delayed reaction by both teams to the goal.
"I dodged to my right and shot," Fleming said. "I'm not sure where it went."
In their opening-round state matchup with Pennsbury, the Hawks had rallied from a 4-0 disadvantage in the first quarter.
Saturday, trailing by a goal late in regulation, Prep gained possession after a chesting penalty, as the Manheim ballcarrier had secured the ball using his upper body. Hawks coach Eric Gregg called a timeout and had simple advice for his players: Be patient and play together.
The Hawks (18-4), the District 12 representative, stormed quickly down the field, and senior attack Jeff Heath netted the tying goal with 43.8 seconds remaining.
"I'd be a liar if I said I didn't have my doubts," Gregg said about his team's chances of erasing two four-goal deficits. "All the props to the kids."
In the first half, Heath scored three goals as the Hawks rattled off four straight to tie the game at 4-4 and then retied it at 5-5.
At halftime, with Manheim (22-2), the top seed from District 3, leading by 8-5, Gregg inserted sophomore goalie A.J. Simon in the lineup for senior Liam Correia.
The decision paid off. The underclassman allowed just two goals and stopped eight shots, making two critical saves in overtime.
"They both played great," Fleming said. "[Simon] is a sophomore, and he came up huge for us."
The game, originally scheduled for 1 p.m., was pushed up to 11 a.m., because St. Joseph's Prep had scheduled its baccalaureate graduation Mass for 4 p.m. Saturday. Senior attack Cory Scheuerle said the graduation made it clear to the seniors that their final season was coming to a close.
"We want to keep this season going as long as we can," he said.
As his players gathered on one knee around him after the win, Gregg repeated to them that they were "on to the next one." The "next one" seemed be a sort of mystery, as the Prep players said they knew little of their next opponent. They will play Mount Lebanon on Tuesday in the semifinals.
Manheim Township 44110-10
St. Joseph's Prep 14321-11
Goals: MT-Alex Bradbury 2, Tyler Karpinski, Quint Miller 2, Mark Stratton 2, Jake Weber, Rob Wertz 2; SJP-Tim Browne, Blaine Fleming, Jeff Heath 4, Jim Hurley, Brad James, Cory Scheuerle, Pat Swanick, Rob Watts.
Saves: MT-Alex Ready 14; SJP-Liam Correia 7, A.J. Simon 8.