Lassiter trailed 4-1 midway through the second quarter before finally putting things together with better communication.
The 8-0 run gave Lassiter (6-1, 3-1) a five-goal lead with 9:54 left in the contest, and the Trojans held off the Eagles (5-2, 2-1) the rest of the way.
Connor Smith had two goals and an assist for Etowah, while Chris Orr also had two scores. Blake Charitat, Nick Parbhoo and Sam Rubin each had one goal, while Zach Lord and Jay Crook each had one assist.
Etowah scored its first two goals off ground balls in front of Lassiter goalkeeper Parker Styles to stake a 2-0 first-quarter lead. Orr scored the third goal off an assist from Smith before David Olson’s goal with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter put Lassiter on the board.
Smith scored from 12 yards out almost two minutes later on a man-up situation to put Etowah in front 4-1. The Trojans stiffened up on defense from that point on and took advantage of their man-up situations for the remainder of the contest to secure the victory.
The more aggressive Trojans dictated play, forcing turnovers and collecting ground balls, that ultimately led to a number of penalty fouls on the Eagles.
Lassiter was 6-for-10 in scoring on its man-up advantages, compared to 1-for-3 for Etowah.
“I think we had a great first half and did the things we needed to do,” Etowah coach Michael Tuley said. “We pressured them and did the things on offense and defense and stayed out of the penalty box. Turnovers in the second half, and not staying out of the penalty box killed us. They had numerous man-up situations, and I think five of their goals were man-up situations. Take that away and we’re probably dead-even.
“It was a hard-fought game on both ends, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Etowah and Lassiter. It’s always a great game. Like their coach said, hopefully, we’re on opposite ends of the playoff brackets.”
Jack Fitzharris led Lassiter with five goals, while Pierce Smith scored twice. Olson, Tom Barre and Corey John each had one goal. Jared Gantt collected two assists, while Blake Wilson and Michael Bridgers each had one assist. Daniel Evans finished with one goal and one assist.
Styles finished with nine saves for Lassiter. Etowah’s Will Sheridan had three first half saves, while Matt McCarthy had five in the second half.
Evans’ goal off from 10 yards away off an assist from Gantt gave Lassiter its 9-4 lead. Parbhoo’s score from 12 yards out with 8:29 remaining snapped Lassiter’s eight-goal streak and Rubin’s score at 6:32 pulled the Eagles to within 9-6.
However, back-to-back man-up scores from Fitzharris put Lassiter in front 11-6 with 4:20 on the clock and the teams exchanged goals over the final minutes, resulting in the final.
Lassiter outshot Etowah 29-25 and had a 13-11 edge in faceoffs.
“In the first half we couldn’t pick up a ground ball and we weren’t communicating very well,” Lassiter coach Brandon Leezer said. “That’s where it starts because it feeds into the offense and moving the ball. We weren’t really clicking. We were ineffective. So, we changed everything.
“We went after them defensively, and, man-to-man, we thought we had them mismatched the whole way around, so we could force a lot of turnovers. We fixed some things after the first quarter and started working on it second quarter. After the half, we kind of rallied them and pulled them together for more communication.”