Devils do it again in second half

Tim Bernardi would like to think it's his lively halftime speeches that make Henry Clay such a good second-half team.

"I'd like to take credit," the Devils coach laughed. "I'd like to say I say the right things."

His players might even be able to convince him it's so.

"Coach is good with the pep talks," said junior Philip Manga.

Whatever the reason, Bernardi is glad his fifth-ranked Devils have been able to overcome early deficits and win 13 games this season.

The host Blue Devils fell in that familiar early hole against No. 14 Lafayette, but they managed to even it up by halftime and then score two goals after the break to walk off with a 3-2 win.

"This team really seems to enjoy stepping up to the challenge in the second half and putting teams away," said Bernardi, whose Devils have won three straight and four of their last five.

Henry Clay fell behind early after Lafayette's Vinny Paiva grabbed a rebound off of the Generals' first shot and fired it back into the goal to give Lafayette the 1-0 edge 13 minutes into the game.

It took 25 minutes, but the Devils found a way to even the score when Phillip Mabika corraled a rebound of his own shot and slammed it past Alex Moody, who had saved the first one.

The two teams went into intermission with a 1-1 tie, but Henry Clay's players don't worry about falling behind.

Early in the second half, Manga put the Devils up for good with his penalty kick after Lafayette was called for tripping him in the box.

"That PK was the spark and we took it to them," said senior Jake Hender. "Then I felt like we completely dominated."

Manga assisted on Henry Clay's third and final goal with what looked like a hot cross to junior Nick Zaytsev, who launched it into the net.

Manga said later it wasn't really a cross. It was a shot. But he was still OK with the outcome.

"That was a shot at the back post," Manga said. "I saw Nick, too, but in my head I remember what the coaches always tell me, that when you're in that type of situation, get the ball to the back post."

The three goals are tied for the second-most goals scored against the Generals' defense all season. Before the game, Lafayette had given up just 14 goals all season.

The Devils' defense did its part in the second half as well, holding Lafayette without a shot on goal until a free kick with 4:30.

"Second half, we just came out with sharp touches and put it to them," Hender said. "We came hard every tackle."

It's what Bernardi expects of his veteran defensive group.

"We have a senior defense, so we expect a lot out of them to earn shutouts or keep teams to minimal opportunities," he said.

But even a veteran defense can't stop the scoring of a good team and Lafayette showed why it's ranked No. 14 by pushing its players up and scoring a goal off another free kick with 30 seconds left on a Miles Kilgore header.

It refocused the Devils' defense in a hurry.

"I was very worried, but it was just a bad break," Hender said. "We still won, so no fretting."

Henry Clay 3, Lafayette 2

Goals—L: Vinny Paiva, Miles Kilgore; HC: Phillip Mabika, Philip Manga, Nick Zaytsev.

Goalkeepers—L: Alex Moody; HC: Miguel Andrade.

Records—Lafayette 7-5-5, Henry Clay 13-3-2.