By: Wells Dusenbury
After 24 minutes of play, it looked like Boca Raton was on its way to another lopsided loss against Benjamin. Then the second half happened. Boca overcame an 8-0 halftime deficit to stun Benjamin 14-13 in an overtime thriller.
"I'm speechless," said Boca Raton head coach Nick Paolano. "For those people who left at halftime, I'm sorry you missed a great finish."
The Bobcats, who avenged last year's seven goal loss to the Buccaneers, couldn't do anything right in the first half and entered the locker room with a goose egg on the scoreboard.
"Benjamin came out hard and they deserved to be up 8-0," Paolano said. "They put pressure on us and I guess we weren't ready for it or we tried to do too much."
"In halftime, we understood that we can do this if we play together and play as a team like we know we're capable of that's what we did."
Boca scored the first three goals of the half to cut the lead to 8-3, before Benjamin answered with one of their own. The Buccaneers took an 11-6 lead into the 4th quarter, but could do little do stop the bleeding.
"We do a good job of having two different halves," said Benjamin head coach Riorden Cheatham. "We rode into half feeling confident and just had a lot of little things happen. A lot of mental breakdowns and missed assignments and it's the little things that come back and end up biting you in the butt."
Led by Brandon Aman and Greg Swanson, the Bobcats scored six straight goals in the 4th quarter and took a 12-11 lead with 1:34 to go. Benjamin responded 25 seconds with its first goal in over 12 minutes of play after Rob Dattolo ripped one top shelf.
The teams traded goals in the final minute of play, sending the game into overtime tied at 13. From there, Swanson scored his third goal of the game, a laser from outside, completing the Bobcats remarkable comeback.
"It shows how much heart they have that they never quit and they never give up," said Paolano. "This team's been through a lot this year and a lot in the last week or so, but I'm just really happy."
On the other side, the Buccaneers continued an unfortunate trend of second half struggles. In the opener against St. Andrew's, Benjamin was outscored 12-3 in the second half after being tied 4-4 at the half. Then on Thursday, the Bucs coughed up a 3-0 halftime lead against St. Thomas Aquinas before falling 7-5.
Cheatham said he hasn't been able to figure out the Buccaneers second half woes.
"I don't know if I can pinpoint one thing. Collectively as a group something's going on upstairs where they're mentally letting go."
"We'll have some self reflection on the way home and try to rally the troops. We've still got Lake Brantley this weekend and districts next week, so we don't have time to sulk and moan and 'oh poor me.' We've just got to right the ship and figure it out quick."
VIDEO: Highlights from Boca's second half comeback
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