The referee of Monday night's Inter-Ac Invitational boys' lacrosse final conceded that he had not "seen this one in a while."
Malvern Prep's student section - clad in white - had rushed the field two seconds too early. The fans thought the Friars had won to complete a perfect season.
Instead the referee slapped Malvern with an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. The fans were ushered off the field, two seconds were put on the clock, and Haverford School was awarded a goal. Friars goalie Carson Cocco said he did not realize that the Fords' Connor Black had scored in the confusion.
Play resumed, the clock ticked to zero, and Malvern's celebration proved twice as nice. The students and players met around Cocco. The game was over, again: Malvern Prep 10, Haverford School 9. Malvern finished the season 24-0, the first perfect season in school history. Haverford School finished 20-6.
Cocco, a senior, recorded 10 saves - including some remarkable ones late in the game - and was named the game's MVP. He stopped Haverford midfielder Phil Poquie on a one-on-one chance with six minutes left. The goalie then turned away Poquie's rebound shot.
"We know he's not really looking to pass when he's charging down with a full head of steam," Cocco said. "He broke through the defense and I robbed him."
Charles Kelly won 12 of the game's 21 draws. Malvern's faceoff specialist controlled the tempo in the fourth quarter, keeping possession in the Friars' offensive zone. He won 81 percent of his faceoffs in the three-game tournament.
"Coach kept telling me that we just needed the ball, that's all we needed," said Kelly.
Malvern scored four times in the fourth, including Kyle Anderson's third goal of the game. Ryan Hilburn plucked a ground ball near midfield and quickly dished a pass to Anderson. The sophomore attack sprinted the rest of the way and scored with ease. It was Malvern's first lead since going ahead, 1-0. The Friars did not trail again.
Its second celebration complete, Malvern was awarded the tournament's six-year old trophy: a small, silver cup attached to a wooden base. The players grabbed it and ran to the other side of the field. Their fans were waiting there to cheer again. This time without a penalty.
Haverford School 2 2 2 3 - 9
Malvern Prep 1 2 3 4 - 10
Goals: HS-Grant Ament, Drew Supinski 2, Tyler Will, Dox Aitken, Connor Black, Dox Aitken 3; MP-Kyle Anderson 3, Ryan Hilburn, Greg Pelton, Kevin McGeary 2, Tripp Traynor, Conor Glancy, Adam Goldner.
Saves: HS-Alex deMarco 7; MP-Carson Cocco 10 .