On Thursday night at Hunt Family Stadium, the St. Mark’s Lions (11-2) clinched a THSLL playoff seed and a bye in the North District playoffs with an 8-6 victory over the Coppell Cowboys (7-5). The Lions under Coach Hayward Lee remain unbeaten in North District play through six games. First-year coach Alex Poole’s Cowboys suffered their third Division I loss with only three games remaining against HP, Plano, and mid-cities rival Southlake Carroll. This was the first meeting between the two teams since Coppell eliminated St. Mark’s by a score of 11-10 in the 2011 Texas State Championship Semi-Finals.
During the first half, Coppell threatened to spoil Senior Night for the Lions with strong play at both ends of the field. The Cowboy zone defense limited the St. Mark’s potent attack corps to only two goals. The Lions were forced to settle for low percentage perimeter shots and were repeatedly denied quality scoring chances down low. On the offensive end, sophomore attack Nick Hruby scored two first quarter goals, and led Coppell to a 4-2 half-time advantage. Sophomore goalie Jonathan Ferree anchored the Cowboy defense recording 8 saves before the break and neutralizing a 20-11 St. Mark’s shooting advantage.
For the second game in a row, the Lions re-asserted their dominance in the second half and quickly scored five unanswered goals after the restart. The Cowboys’ failure to get across midfield on 60% of their second half clear opportunities kept their defense under a constant Lions’ attack. Senior captain Will Perkins launched 13 total shots in the game, and tallied the first of his three third quarter goals at the 11:46 mark to quickly put Coppell on its heels. Junior attack Andrew Graffy contributed the go-ahead goal and an assist on the tying Perkins’ score in the quarter, and senior middie Griffin Cassagne completed his second hat trick in as many games while notching the last two Lions’ scores of the evening. Additional St. Mark’s scoring was provided by: freshman attack Jack Fojtasek (1G), junior middie Danny Koudelka (2A), and sophomore middie Christopher Marlow (1A). Marlow also led the Lions with 7 GBs and 6 face off wins. Junior goalie Chris Roach, enjoying his first start of the year against a North District opponent, logged 7 saves and efficiently managed the Lions’ transition game which went 14-0 on clear attempts.
Sophomore Hruby led Coppell with four goals on seven shots, including two late herculean plunges to the edge of the crease as the Cowboys desperately tried to re-establish their lost momentum. Junior middie Tommy McClenehan and senior middie Chase Porter each scored a goal, and junior attack Henry Busch contributed two assists. Goalie Ferree recorded only one save in the final 24 minutes, to finish with 9 total saves.
St. Mark’s will travel to Allen on April 9th and then to fellow unbeaten Dallas Jesuit on April 19th in what should be a titanic battle for the #1 North District seed. Coppell must secure additional wins against HP, Plano and Southlake if they hope to secure a top seed in defense of their 2011 THSLL DI State Championship title.