Inline Team Wins Regional Championship
Posted: March 11, 2013 at 11:56 am, Last Updated: March 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm
The Patriots defeated the defending national champions Bethel University 6-4 in the championship game.
“It felt great. It would have felt a lot different if we got it our first few years but four years of trying to get it and being so close with losing in overtime, losing in double overtime. It was so difficult to try and get over that hump,” said senior defenseman Andrew Lensing, who had 17 points in five games during the tournament. “Winning it now with the defending national champions in the same division and some teams that made it very far in nationals. It definitely made that 12-hour trip home a lot easier.”
The Patriots started off the weekend playing lackadaisically, tying Central Florida 5-5 and losing the Florida Gulf Coast 10-3. Coming in as the number two seed, they were only one loss away from going home. Frustrated and confused, the players organized a team meeting.
“We had a team meeting to try and get everyone focused and on the same page. We played horrible defense those first two games. It was just sloppy,” said Lensing, who is only behind his twin brother Cam in team goals with 15. “Everyone was just not playing well. The biggest thing said by our captain, Seve Cordova, was we need to start playing as a team.”
After playing like individuals, the Patriots started playing as a team. Cruising to victory over Coastal Carolina 9-1, they found themselves in a rematch with FGCU in the semi-finals.
Entering the third period down by four goals, the Patriots had a steep hill to climb. With 30 seconds left, they decided to pull goalie Jordan Pohl to give them an extra skater.
Sophomore Josh Herr skated towards the FGCU net, received a pass from senior forward Harrison Murdock and shot the game-tying goal glove low with only 19 seconds remaining to make it a 8-8 tie.
Senior Cameron Lensing scored the game winning goal 2:41 into overtime to send the Patriots to the championship.
“Harrison looked at Cam and I and said we have to score this shift. We got out there and Harrison beat his man and passed it to Cam who scored,” said Andrew Lensing, who registered a hat trick with two assists in the game. “We scored that shift and that is how we won the game. It was pretty cool.”
The next step for the Patriots was Bethel University in the championship. The Patriots lost the only two meetings against Bethel this season, getting outscored 11-2.
“We didn’t feel too intimidated. Every game we played Bethel before that, we played them well. It was just the momentum was not in our way, we do not get the first goal and stuff like that. We knew we could beat Bethel going into that game,” Andrew Lensing said.
Andrew Lensing scored the team’s first four goals in the 6-4 championship win over Bethel in a game the Patriots overall dominated.
“We played our game. They like to go 100%, quickly at you while we like to slow the puck down, find the mismatch and go one-on-one. It helped that we got the first goal because it kind of set our tone because they were backed on their heels,” said Andrew Lensing, scoring seven of his 13 goals in the semi-finals and finals. “We played a little bit differently defensively with our second line going to a 1-1-2, which is when one person is up, one in the middle and two defenseman back. They did not know what to do against it. The second lines’ defense was the best it has been all year.”
The Patriot’s first regional championship guarantees them an auto-bid in the national championship tournament in April. Inline hockey’s national tournament is exactly like March Madness in college basketball. Roller Hockey’s “selection Monday” is March 11th.
“We are pumped for nationals. We have shown all season long that we can hang with the best. We’ve beaten two top teams in the east, we have beaten the national champions and we won the south,” Lensing said. “We are pretty confident. There are no easy to go up against but we are pretty confident we can beat any team there.”
The Patriots finished the regular season with 10-2 record. Their top scorer, Cameron Lensing, has 21 goals and 21 assists. The next time they play is not until the national championships in Ft. Myers, FL on April 10th.
STORY BY JAMES ZEMBRISKI