It was the fourth win in five games for the Greyhounds (5-4), who host the annual event dedicated to former Greyhounds lacrosse star Andrew Oswald, who died in a 2005 car accident.
Michael Gernatt’s man-up goal put Walton (5-4) in front 2-1, but Pope responded with back-to-back goals from Brayton Wadella and Parker LaVelle to take a 3-2 halftime lead. The Greyhounds kept the momentum going in the third period, outscoring the Raiders 3-0 to move ahead 6-2 at the end of the period.
Cody Polifka’s score with 10:29 remaining capped the spurt, and the teams exchanged goals over the final 9 minutes, resulting in the final.
Polifka finished with a hat trick to lead the Greyhounds. Wadella totaled two goals and one assist, while LaVelle and Liam Lynch each had one goal and one assist. Tyler Borko’s goal from 6 yards out, off LaVelle’s assist, gave Pope a 6-2 advantage with 4:42 left in the third quarter.
“We had a solid week to prepare for these guys, and we knew Walton was going to be tough because they’re always tough,” Pope coach Carl Pfaff said. “We came out of the half just trying to win the third quarter and be consistent and not have a letdown. We were patient, and it paid off. Guys did a heck of a job of keeping (Walton) from clearing at will and giving ourselves some extra possessions.
“Guys were really prepared and worked hard. I’m really proud of them. We really needed a big one right here to head into the rest of our season. We have some big games coming up, and this sets us up on the right foot to really go from here and look towards the second season.”
Pope scored first behind Lynch’s goal, but Walton’s Alex Baker answered off an assist from Gernatt with 1:37 remaining in the first quarter.
A 3-minute illegal stick penalty at the start of the second quarter gave Walton a man-up advantage, and Gernatt capitalized with a second left for the 2-1 margin.
Lynch assisted on LaVelle’s man-up goal that gave Pope its 3-2 lead with 7.5 seconds remaining in the first half.
The momentum from that score carried over into the second half. Wadella hit the upper-left corner from 5 yards out for a 4-2 advantage, and Polifka used an up-and-under move on his defender for a goal in front of the crease with 5:23 on the clock.
Polifka’s second score hit off goalkeeper Jake Hornberger before rolling into the net for Pope’s 7-2 fourth-quarter lead.
“At halftime, I asked the guys to just be patient and work on the same things we’ve been working on,” Pfaff said. “We had seen a lot of looks. I just wanted us to focus on shooting and good form and coming over the top and putting balls in the cage and hope they get past (Hornberger).”
Gernatt’s second goal from 7 yards away snapped Pope’s streak and trimmed the deficit to 7-3 with 8:55 remaining. But Wadella assisted on Polifka’s final score with 3:55 on the clock, leading to the 8-3 final.
Pope goalkeeper Joe Harmon stopped several point-blank shots and was named the game’s most valuable player. He had 11 saves, compared to eight for Hornberger.
Pope outshot Walton 32-28.
“We played Walton two years ago and they stepped on us and basically gave us a really big spanking,” Harmon said. “So we wanted to win this game. I think our defense did well keeping their sticks up and getting a man on the ball. Overall, I think we played really well. This was a game we really needed.”
Pfaff was proud of his goalkeeper’s performance.
“Joe has always been a solid athlete in the cage, and he really stepped up (Saturday),” he said. “He made a lot of good saves close in where, most of the time, you don’t expect a goalie to make.”