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Do it once and some could write it off as a fluke or just a little bit of luck.
When you consistently find a way to elevate your game on the big stage, it’s not by accident. Colin Hannigan has proven many times that he embraces the pressure that the postseason brings.
The Springfield (Pa.) senior faceoff midfielder scored the overtime game-winning goal as a sophomore when the Cougars won the Central League hockey championship in double overtime over heavily-favored rival Haverford High. He did so as a third-liner for Springfield, meaning that overtime shifts in championship games can be somewhat few and far between, yet still cashed in on his opportunity.
Last year, he went from very good to lights-out as Springfield raced to a District One championship and a state tournament berth. Tuesday night, he continued his phenomenal senior season by getting even better in the Cougars’ 15-3 rout of Central York in the PIAA Class AAA tournament. Hannigan went 17-for-20 at the faceoff stripe, including claiming the game’s first 15 draws, and he also put a cherry on top with a goal.
Springfield gets on the board via Sean Donaldson’s snipe. Cougars add another shortly thereafter. 2-0 @sprlax. pic.twitter.com/ZzVWvyGBxR
— NLF (@natlaxfed) May 31, 2022
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Hannigan, who just re-opened his recruitment after being let out of his Letter of Intent by St. John’s, was electric from the first faceoff. He and rope unit mates in All-American LSM Ryan O’Connor (Big 4 HHH / Penn State) and short-stick defensive midfielder Michael Hoey, worked in perfect harmony throughout. When Central York was able to take away the fast break, Hannigan started spraying the ball around the field to different spots. O’Connor and Hoey were usually there in a stride or two to gobble up the ground balls with minimal resistance.
It was just another chapter in Hannigan’s book of postseason greatness, and it certainly didn’t surprise his teammates.
“It’s really incredible,” attackman Jimmy Kennedy said of Hannigan. “He doesn’t lose. Today, going against an All-American, we thought maybe 50-50, 60-40, but with Hannigan, he shows it every single week. He’s just dominant. He can bring it down to the offensive end and everything.”
Springfield advances to play District One champion Manheim Township this Saturday at Avon Grove at 2 p.m.. The Blue Streaks, who became the first non-Philly area team to win the PIAA championship in 2018, were 16-10 victors over Mount Lebanon in the first round.
Dominance All Over the Field
Regardless of who the Cougars play, they have to feel like they have a colossal possession advantage with Hannigan in the middle. He was one of two Philly faceoff guys who earned U.S. Lacrosse All-America honors – Episcopal Academy’s Andrew McMeekin (Princeton) was the other – and the Philly Face-Off League product takes pride in the fact that he gets better when the chips are down.
“I don’t know what it is,” Hannigan said. “I feel like under pressure, I perform better in high-intensity situations. Our wing guys know what they’re doing. I don’t even have to tell them and the coaches don’t even have to tell them, so we’ve got it nailed down by now.”
On the rare occasion that Central York had the ball, the Panthers were largely unable to solve a stingy-as-usual Springfield defense. Cougars defensive coordinator Ryne Adolph’s unit flummoxed Central York with its 1v1 coverage and precise slides. O’Connor is the headliner, but it’s a workmanlike group that operates well as a group. Senior Cabrini commit Shane Phillips was particularly stout. It was his caused turnover at X early in the second quarter on one of the Panthers’ first extended possessions that sent a message that Springfield’s defense was locked in, despite not having had to do much early.
“You can look at it like a 1-on-1 matchup, but it’s always going to be teamwork and sliding and recovering,” Phillips said. “That’s something we practice a lot and it’s all about the communication. I talk, my teammates talk, we all work as a team. Every time we cause a turnover, it’s a huge confidence boost. The bench gets up for it.”
There was a lot for the Springfield bench to get up for. Now they’ll have to do it all over again.
Springfield-Central York Standouts
Alec Fahs ’22, midfield, Central York
Central York’s offense took a while to find its footing – never having the ball will do that to you – but it was Fahs who got the Panthers going. He had a really nice dish from GLE to find an open Cole McNaughton on the back pipe for a dunk. Fahs dodged hard and kept his head up on the play, timing his pass up perfectly with McNaughton’s cut.
He also tallied the final goal of his high school career in style, snapping home a behind-the-back shot down the left alley. Fahs drew some attention throughout the game with his first step, which often drew slides.
Ty Gougler ’24, attack, Springfield
Gougler was a tough cover for Central York on the right wing. A small but dynamic lefty, he was consistently able to get to the middle of the field with his explosive first step. He has almost 90 points to his credit in his first year as a starter. That includes a two-goal, five-assist effort Tuesday night, where he flashed the ability to pull defenses out of position and find open guys for dunks. His best one may have been when he threaded the needle inside on an EMO to Sean Donaldson when the latter crept into the middle of the zone defense. Gougler’s lack of size might scare off some colleges – he could be an out-of-the-box midfielder at the next level – but whoever lands him will be thrilled with his potential game-breaking ability.
Colin Hannigan ‘22, faceoff midfield, Springfield
There’s not a whole lot more that has to be said when a faceoff guy goes 17-for-20 and scores a goal to boot. Hannigan, who just opened up his recruitment after getting out of his Letter of Intent with St. John’s, owned the faceoff stripe all game long. He won the game’s first 15 faceoffs and, unsurprisingly, the opponent never having the ball was a productive strategy for the Cougars.
Hannigan really impressed with his ability to keep Central York guessing with his bevy of exits and counters. He put the ball wherever he wanted, leaving easy ground balls for his wing men. Leave the front door open at your peril, though. Hannigan is excellent at pushing the fast break and regularly drew early slides. It was his play to set up a tic-tac-toe finish from Jimmy Kennedy that enabled the Cougars to score back-to-back to push their lead from 2-0 to 4-0. That took any wind out of the Panthers’ sails and allowed Springfield to romp.
Jimmy Kennedy, murderer of corners. 4-0 @sprlax after one.
Central York looks shell shocked. Springfield buzzing, including a 5-0 performance at the stripe from Colin Hannigan (@StJohnsLax). https://t.co/lGLEZjLAlN pic.twitter.com/yyYZ8pur0D
— Matt Chandik (@MChandik26) May 31, 2022
Jimmy Kennedy ’23, attack, Springfield
A year’s worth of development has done wonders for Kennedy. The junior finished with a hat trick and a helper, but he just looks much more confident in his ability and comfortable in his role. He scored to make it 4-0 by picking a corner off of a fast-break opportunity, then later snuck his way to the rack and finished in a tight space for his second marker of the game. A tall, skinny lefty, Kennedy is a very good shooter who just needs to add some size to become a more prolific dodger. As a scorer, though, get him the ball and let him cook.
“We started off a little slow and didn’t score until halfway through the first quarter,” Kennedy said. “After that, it starts clicking and we get those transition goals. That’s where Hannigan comes in big. We rattle off three quick ones and everything’s flowing.”
Ryan O’Connor ’22, LSM, Springfield / Big 4 HHH / Penn State
O’Connor’s development over the past two years has been incredible. He has worked to diversify his game and become a dominant all-around LSM who’s often been deployed to erase opponents’ top scoring options. That’s rare, but O’Connor is up to the task. Recently tabbed a U.S. Lacrosse All-American and named to the National Senior All-Star Game, O’Connor terrorized the middle of the field against the Panthers. The future Nittany Lion covers a ton of ground and Springfield’s ride was designed to funnel Central York to O’Connor. He was happy to oblige by harassing ball carriers into hurried passes and timid clears.
O’Connor understands when to be aggressive on checks. Also an All-Delaware County hockey player for the Cougars, his stickwork is ludicrous and he had a couple of occasions where he calmly backhanded the ball to teammates out of double teams. Teammates in both hockey and lacrosse, O’Connor and Hannigan have clearly developed chemistry on faceoffs and had a couple of nifty give-and-gos off to push transition off of Hannigan’s wins.
Shane Phillips ’22, defense, Springfield / Cabrini
Phillips did an excellent job of staying low and getting under his matchup. There’s not a ton of flash to his game, but there doesn’t have to be when you’re staying between your man and the cage. He was the one orchestrating the defense’s next move by communicating with his teammates. Cut from the same cloth of many successful Springfield defensemen before him, he’s the type of local player that Cabrini has built its program on. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him emerge as a significant contributor for the 2019 Division III national champions. A first-team All-Central League selection, Phillips is the type of glue-guy defenseman that can slot into a couple of different roles all over the defense.
Springfield 15, Central York 3
Central York 0 0 2 1 — 3
Springfield 4 5 6 0 — 15
Cole McNaughton ’22 2 goals
Alec Fahs ’22 1 goal, 1 assist
Dayton Bagwell ’23 1 assist
Luke McLaughlin ’23 9 saves
Jimmy Kennedy ’23 3 goals, 1 assist
Sean Donaldson ’23 3 goals
Ty Gougler ’24 2 goals, 5 assists
Matt Dickinson ’22 2 goals, 1 assist
Aidan Kreydt ’23 (Saint Joseph’s) 1 goal, 2 assists
Colin Hannigan ’22 1 goal, 17-for-20 faceoffs
Brett Doherty ’24 1 goal
JZ Grafstrom ’22 1 goal
Matt Shandley ’22 (Catholic) 1 goal
Brian Flaherty ’22 1 assist
Billy Henderson ’25 1 assist
Ethan Johnson 5 saves
Josh Crowther 1 save