John Tomsheck scores with 0.2 seconds to go to lift boys varsity lacrosse over EGR in overtime thriller


With about 15 seconds to play in overtime and the score knotted at 7-7, senior Deacon Lobdell crossed the midline and found the stick of junior John Tomsheck, who has been the heart and soul of the FHC attack all year. Tomsheck caught the ball at 25 yards out from goal with two EGR defensemen smothering him instantly, beating both of them to the right edge of the field with his speed. Three Pioneers stepped up as he headed to goal, so John wrapped around the goal instead. Approaching the other side of the goal, Tomsheck spun an EGR defender and shot from the tightest of angles nearly perpendicular to the goal. The ball slowly rolled in with 0.2 seconds remaining, prompting the entire Ranger bench to rush Tomsheck and the rest of the FHC team in the corner. 

“I honestly just felt relieved because I hate losing to EGR more than anything,” Tomsheck said. “‘I’m just happy I could make a play for my team to beat our rival and hopefully secure a higher seed in the playoffs.”

The entire contest exemplified what makes the FHC-EGR rivalry so special and why they are arguably the top two teams in the division. The two teams faced each other in the state championship three times in a row from 2016-2018, and they fight for the OK conference Tier 1 championship year in and year out. That was the case once again this year, with both teams coming into the contest undefeated in the conference, meaning whoever would go on to win the game would also claim the conference championship. 

In the first quarter, things began a little slow for the Rangers. East Grand Rapids started off the scoring just over four minutes into the game with a solo run from Jack Higgins, and the Pioneers then doubled their total six minutes later. The quarter ended 2-0 in favor of EGR, and the Rangers were struggling to get much going offensively against EGR’s zone defense.

“We were a little slow at the start, which I thought might happen knowing we were going to run up against a zone defense for the first time outside practicing against ourselves in a scout defense,” head coach Andy Shira said. “We had looks but just didn’t move the ball quick enough on offense in the first half.”

Fortunately for the Rangers, sophomore Rowan Clay responded with a goal of his own less than a minute into the second quarter. After an FHC pass went out of bounds deep in EGR territory, Rowan forced a turnover on the EGR goalie and scooped the ball up to capitalize on the Pioneers’ mistake. Following that, however, neither team scored for the rest of the half, and EGR led 2-1 after 24 minutes of play. 

Right away in the second half, the Rangers came out with energy. Off a faceoff win from senior Mason Wiltz to start the half, Wiltz ran the offense himself and found Tomsheck in the middle of the field. As the EGR defender stepped up on John, this left senior Collin Ward wide open but with a tough angle from the left side of the goal. Ward beat the EGR goalie to his left, tying the game up at two goals apiece just ten seconds into the second half. Faceoff wins like Wiltz’s were a deciding factor in Thursday’s contest, and the faceoff units of Wiltz, sophomore Sam Sneider, freshman Luke Wedder, junior Quentin Rudolph, and seniors George Cobb and Sawyer Bosch did their job in securing extra possessions for the offense.

Then, less than two minutes later, Sam Sneider picked up a dropped pass from EGR in FHC’s half, pushing the tempo to Tomsheck before John was swarmed by two EGR defenders. As the entire Pioneer defense collapsed on Tomsheck and committed four players to him, John found Sam for the return pass to set up a four-on-two situation in FHC’s favor. Sam hit Rowan just in front of the goal who finished the play off, giving FHC three unanswered goals and a 3-2 lead with ten minutes to play in the third quarter. 

Playing a long stretch of possession a man down halfway through the quarter, the Rangers thwarted EGR’s man-up advantage before a miscommunication on the Rangers’ side led to an even-strength goal for the Pioneers. Then, with just under a minute to play, the Pioneers added another goal from Campbell after another long spell of possession, giving EGR a 4-3 advantage with the final 12 minutes on deck. 

After a couple of really threatening chances from the FHC attack that forced some saves from the EGR goalie to start the fourth, East Grand Rapids quickly picked up another goal of its own to go up 5-3 with ten minutes to go. On the following possession as momentum ramped up for the Pioneers in front of a substantial home crowd, EGR enjoyed another long spell of possession before firing a shot on goal that forced an impressive save from sophomore Crandall Quinn. Crandall came up big all night, recording 11 saves on the night, including this one that could’ve created a snowball effect as the Pioneers pieced together more momentum. 

However, the Pioneers continued to get good looks on goal, getting five really good looks in a row in a span of two minutes before they increased their lead to 6-3 with a shot that went top shelf with eight minutes to go. 

For the next two minutes, the Rangers controlled possessions and had some good looks. With 6:30 to play, junior Jack McNamara hit Ward creeping up toward the goal; the senior dodged the EGR defender, getting a great look on goal from just a few yards that was blocked by a kick save from the Pioneer goalie. The rebound was caught by a Ranger and fired on goal once again, but the EGR goalie saved it once again. 

After working the ball around for over a minute, senior Reid Davison found Rowan, who fired one into the back of the net to start the comeback for FHC. Down 6-3 and now trailing 6-4 with 4:38 to play is certainly some adversity, but the Rangers were ready. With a man up, sophomore Magnus Salmon threw a dart of a pass to senior Luke Matelic who was wide open just yards away from the goal, and the senior calmly nestled the ball in near the front post to bring the deficit to just a goal with under four minutes to go. With the momentum clearly on FHC’s side, the Rangers continued to put pressure on EGR’s defense. Following another faceoff win from Wiltz, Tomsheck found Ward for his second of the day, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Scoring three unanswered goals in a span of fewer than two minutes, the game was now tied 6-6.  

While it seemed like it would be very difficult for the Pioneers to respond after giving up three unanswered goals, they did. With 2:15 to play, Crandall made a save off a bouncing shot that just so happened to bounce to an EGR player that cleaned up the mess and gave the Pioneers the lead back with a 7-6 advantage. 

As crushing as a play like that might be to a team, the Rangers refused to back down. Not even 40 seconds later, Collin Ward dodged multiple EGR defenders to score and tie things back up. Collin scored when it mattered most on Thursday, scoring both of the goals that tied things up and eventually forced overtime.

“When we were down [three goals] with four minutes left, we turned it up another level to give ourselves a chance at the end of the game,” Shira said. “I’m really proud of the guys for their efforts and never giving up when we were down late in the game.”

To close out regulation, the Ranger defense forced a key turnover as the Pioneers drained the clock. The Rangers didn’t get a good look before time expired, but the turnover halted EGR’s efforts at finding a game-winner. The FHC defense showed out all night, but especially as things came to a close and the Rangers needed a chance to crawl back in it. 

“Defensively, we played really well and made the adjustments we needed to at halftime with earlier slides as EGR was dodging to shoot, rather than dodging to draw a slide and move the ball to the backside,” Shira said. “[Sophomore] Jack Elliott, Deacon Lobdell, [junior] John Foster, and Crandall all really played well all game and gave our offense the late-game opportunities we needed when the game was on the line.”

Heading into overtime tied 7-7, the Rangers had a very good look just ten seconds into the extra period. Off the back of two goals in a row, Collin Ward hit the left post and out in what would’ve been quite the remarkable individual comeback for Ward. From the first ten seconds of overtime to the last ten, the chances were few and far in between. There wasn’t another shot on goal until the final play, and the tension continued to build. 

After picking up a turnover, the EGR goalie launched the ball upfield, but that only resulted in another turnover. With 30 ticks remaining on the clock, Luke Matelic raced upfield before finding Lobdell. Tomsheck checked to the middle and did his thing, creating a memory that will last a lifetime as his goal not only beat an arch-rival, but it also secured the conference championship.

In what was truly one of the great high school lacrosse games, the Rangers fought back from multiple deficits and refused to give up. Facing a three-goal disadvantage with less than five minutes to go, they kept their composure and continued to press for more goals. Whether it was moments of individual brilliance from Tomsheck, Ward, and Rowan or spurts of lockdown defense and consecutive faceoff wins, the Rangers showed what makes this team special in a game for the ages.

“This is what high school athletics should be. High stakes, high-intensity game when big things are on the line,” Shira said. “I love this team so much, and now they know why we push them so much when we’re not playing the way we as coaches know they can play.”

With this win, the Rangers are now 8-3 and conference champions, ticking off the first goal of the season. They will look to continue the momentum from this emotional win as they travel to take on Clarkston at 2:00 PM. After that, they will take on two opponents from the east side of the state in Detroit Country Day and Northville.