What Hilltop captain Jeremiah Schultz started, Lancer goaltender Josh Evangelist finished in Wednesday’s Mesa League roller hockey game at National City’s Skate San Diego. The result was a key 5-4 victory over the Otay Ranch Mustangs that knotted both teams, along with the Eastlake Titans, atop the league standings with identical 3-1 league records through the first round of league play.
Hilltop was coming off a gritty 6-5 setback to the Titans on Jan. 20 — a game in which the Lancers coughed up a late 5-4 lead with a defensive collapse.
Hilltop (9-6 overall) had three two-goal leads in Wednesday’s game. But the Mustangs (8-6 overall) trimmed the Lancer edge to a single goal with 1:40 left in regulation play to set up an exciting finish.
Evangelist stood his ground throughout the flurry of shots unleashed by Otay Ranch in the final minute. The Mustangs managed to get off their best shot with one second left on an incredible end-to-end feed right to the stick of team captain Jon Managbanag, whose shot glanced off Evangelist’s catching glove just as the buzzer sounded.
“After we lost to Eastlake, we knew we had to beat everybody,” said Schultz, who scored the opening goal of the game. “We knew we had to step up to play. We executed a lot better than in the Eastlake game. We didn’t take as many penalties.”
Tylor Spracklin led the Lancers with a goal and two assists while CIF-Metro Conference scoring leader Ryan Trego keyed Otay Ranch with two goals. Trego entered the game with 32 goals and 25 assists.
Evangelist finished the game with 26 saves.