There are very few secrets when Radnor and Springfield meet each other in the postseason.
The Central Athletic League rivals don’t just get one league meeting a year but have found themselves locked in pivotal games time and again in the postseason, both in the District 1 and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association tournaments.
That history plays a role, and Springfield entered a historic win on its side of the ledger Wednesday night.
Junior Drexel commit Tyler Gougler scored four goals, including the game-winner with 2:26 to play, as Springfield upended the reigning district and state champion, 10-8.
The second-seeded Cougars (19-2) used history to their advantage. They had lost to Radnor, 10-9, in the semifinals last year, the de facto title game. Wednesday was the fifth time in the last six tournaments that the teams have met in districts, the previous four all in semifinals, with Springfield winning three. A 6-5 overtime loss during the regular season added fuel to the fire.
“We definitely used last game as motivation,” Springfield sophomore attackman Patrick Flaherty said. “Regular-season game, they threw their helmets and gloves. We took that personal, and we were fired up.”
The game lived up to the hype, with five ties. Springfield led 7-4 midway through the third before Radnor tied it early in the fourth, setting off a volley of free-flowing lacrosse in an otherwise tight-to-the-vest affair.
Senior Princeton commit Cooper Mueller, recently named to the National Senior All-Star Game powered by Nike, tied it 59 seconds into the fourth. Senior Sean Donaldson (St. John Fisher) nudged Springfield back in front, swimming through two defenders to the goal, before junior Kessy Cox took a Nate Lucchesi (Penn) feed and planted his second goal of the game.
After a tense back and forth, including a sensational double save by Radnor’s Nick DeCain (Washington & Lee) on Gougler then Aidan Kreydt (Saint Joseph’s) while he was scrambling back to his cage, Springfield settled the game and found a difference maker.
‘The Rock of Our Team’
Gougler already had two goals to his name by the time the fourth quarter started, faring well in his matchup. The Raptors were missing Michael Savadove, the Harvard commit sidelined with a leg injury.
In the fourth, though, Gougler took over. He spun inside to get leverage on his man then beat the slide to rifle home the go-ahead goal with 2:26 left.
Springfield won the ensuing faceoff, and after drawing 30 seconds off the clock on a flag, Gougler charged up from X and flicked home his fourth of the day above DeCain to make it 10-8.
“He’s the rock of our team,” Flaherty said. “He’s just that guy who makes the play. There’s not much more to be said.”
“He’s huge for our team,” senior middie Michael Hoey said. “He’s definitely our best player. He proves it at practice and in the game, pushes everyone to their hardest and brings out energy for our team. Without him, I don’t think we’d be the team we are now.”
The last goal came at a cost, though. Gougler was injured during the celebration, landing awkwardly on his leg. He didn’t return and had his leg heavily iced, unable to put much weight on it, as the team received its medals.
Radnor (19-3) was chasing a double dose of history. The Central League champs had done the improbable league-district-states triple last year. They had already added the first jewel of that triple crown this year with an undefeated run through league play.
The loss will force a bit of a recalibration.
“We know after repeating, we’re going to get everyone’s best game,” senior attackman Colin French said. “Everyone wants a shot at us, so we’ve got to play our best game back.”
Both teams waltzed to the final, head and shoulders above the rest of the district. Springfield won its three games by a combined score of 39-6, Radnor by a 43-11 margin. Springfield has won 14 straight games. Radnor saw its 16-game winning streak snapped.
Mason Montrella (Franklin & Marshall) scored twice in the first half for Radnor, then completed his hat trick at 1:30 of the third to tie the game at four. Springfield answered within nine seconds, though, Lucas Aaron winning the draw to find freshman Luke Valerio and then Jimmy Kennedy (Iona) to finish. Flaherty finished his hat trick with two goals in 24 seconds to make it 7-4, the last off one of three assists from Valerio.
Aaron was massive for the Cougars, winning 17 of 21 draws.
“He’s a dog. He dominates,” Hoey said. “We had a great kid in (UNC’s Colin) Hannigan last year, and he just picked up the role. … Without him, I don’t think we win this game.”
Springfield 10, Radnor 8
Springfield 1 3 3 3 – 10
Radnor 2 1 3 2 – 8
Tyler Gougler ’24 (Drexel) 4 goals
Patrick Flaherty ’25 3 goals
Aidan Kreydt ’23 (Saint Joseph’s) 1 goal
Jimmy Kennedy ’23 (Iona) 1 goal
Sean Donaldson ’23 (St. John Fisher) 1 goal
Luke Valerio ’26 3 assists
Lucas Aaron 17-for-21 faceoffs
Jackson Kennedy ’25 4 saves
Mason Montrella ’23 (Franklin & Marshall) 3 goals
Kessy Cox ’24 2 goals
Nate Lucchesi ’24 (Penn) 1 goal, 1 assist
Colin French ’23 (Lehigh) 1 goal
Cooper Mueller ’23 (Princeton) 1 goal
Owen Knight ’24 1 assist
Nick DeCain ’23 (Washington & Lee) 3 saves
Springfield vs. Radnor standouts
Tyler Gougler ’24, attack, Springfield / Drexel
Gougler was the best player on the field. Four goals against Radnor is worth eight against in most of the games Springfield has played this year. It takes him past 60 goals and 90 points for the season. His fearlessness around the cage and ability to use his short but strong stature to get under defenders is a true talent. The Cougars will be hoping his leg injury proves minor; their states hopes hinge on it.
Lucas Aaron ’24, faceoff, Springfield
Radnor’s success last year occurred with little from the X, so they’re a team comfortable with losing draws. What made Aaron’s 17-for-21 performance so game-shifting wasn’t just his ability to come away from X with the ball, but his ability to make the right decisions with it. The paucity of turnovers off his wins meant Springfield controlled the clock and kept the ball away from Radnor. Aaron also got the hockey assist on Kennedy’s vital goal at 10:21, making it 5-4 and starting a three-goal Springfield run.
Luke Valerio, ’26 midfield, Springfield
Just a freshman, Valerio has outstanding stick skills and is an athletic two-way presence. He’s the kind of player who seems to thrive as the games get more complex: As Radnor’s defense tightened and closed the usual dodge-and-feed avenues Springfield can use against lesser defenses, Valerio’s passing ability became magnified. He has a great sense of when to push the ball and when to pull it back, and he’s extremely decisive when he picks his passes, especially for a freshman.
Nate Lucchesi ’24, midfield, Radnor / Penn
Radnor’s offense this year has been egalitarian to a fault. In big games, that can sometimes mean a delay in waiting for someone to step up. Lucchesi was one of the facilitators that had the most success Wednesday. This year’s attack is so much different than last year’s, which ran through Ryan Goldstein (Cornell) at X. Lucchesi, with his blend of power, passing vision and quickness, was the only one of the middies able to really break through Springfield’s defense. And as he showed on the goal, he’s got a shot that plays at the next level.
Mason Montrella ’23, attack, Radnor / Franklin & Marshall
Montrella stepped up with three goals in the first half, forcing Springfield’s defense to adjust. He’s the perfect system piece for Radnor, a guy with a college-level shot who can do a job and finish his chances. He works well within the offense, able to move the ball, work off-ball and create space for others, but his primary weapon is always his finishing ability.