Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Walton's Jack Chase (25) gets hit by Peachtree Ridge's Michael Ruffcorn during the first half of Saturday's state quarterfinal playoff game.
SUWANEE -- A furious second-half rally wasn't enough as the Peachtree Ridge boys lacrosse team fell 11-7 to Walton in the Class AAAAA quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. The most successful team in Gwinnett County Public School history thus far ended its season at 15-5.
The third-ranked Raiders (16-3) unleashed an offensive barrage from the opening whistle. Walton's Ned Kaish was unstoppable, recording five goals and an assist. A little more than a minute into the game, Kaish passed to a cutting Matt Morabito on the right side and the junior found the back of the net giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. Less than a minute later, Kaish was on the receiving end of a pass from Alex Cagle and the senior sliced through the middle of the Ridge defense and scored.
The Lions answered at 9:35 when Michael Ruffcorn took a pass from Cory Hall and beat Walton goalie Michael Harper, cutting the Walton lead to 2-1.
The Raiders responded with six unanswered goals. Walton's Orrin Whittaker found Cagle behind the Lions' defense and Cagle raised the Walton lead to 3-1 at the 5:21 mark of the first quarter. With 1:49 remaining in the opening quarter, Kaish circled from behind the Ridge goal and his cross-body shot scored to give the Raiders a 4-1 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter was all Walton, as the sixth-ranked Lions were unable to stop the attack. With Hall off for a slashing penalty and the Lions a man down, Whittaker made the score 5-1 at 10:42 when he scooped up a ground ball after an errant clearing attempt by Peachtree Ridge and buried his shot in the back of the net.
The teams traded possessions until the 4:38 mark when Morabito found an open Joe Cherof in the center and the junior's goal increased the Raider lead to 6-1. Just 22 seconds later, Kaish again circled from behind the net and was able to score to increase the advantage to 7-1. With 30 seconds left, Cherof ducked under a check attempt of a Lion defender and bounced his shot into the net to make the score 8-1 at half.
The Lions refused to quit and mounted a rally in the third quarter. Ruffcorn was the catalyst as the junior carried the ball down the right side and found Steven Lee with a pass which the freshman converted at 8:29, cutting the lead to 8-2. At 7:26, Ruffcorn scored on a left-handed shot and the score was 8-3. At 4:34, Ruffcorn curled around the left side from behind the net and his goal cut the Walton lead to 8-4 heading into the final quarter.
The rally was derailed at 11:00 when Kaish again came from behind the net and this time his underhand shot upped the lead to 9-4. With 9:57 left Walton increased the lead to 10-4 on a goal by Cagle.
The Lions responded with a furious three-goal rally as Jacob Lee, Tyler Fortier and Hall scored to make the score 10-7 with 4:25 left. However, Walton was able to drain most of the remaining time with possession before Kaish iced the game with his fifth goal with 30 seconds left.
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