In the final moments of the third quarter, just as James River seemed to be mounting a comeback with three unanswered goals, Cosby’s Owen Fasulka unloaded a shot.
Fasulka, who finished the 2019 season with 100 points (55 goals, 45 assists), received the ball on the left side outside the crease. He painted the top right corner with a powerful, low-to-high shot, stretching Cosby’s lead back to five goals and solidifying its spot in the state championship bracket. Fasulka’s goal helped secure the Titans’ defense of the Class 6, Region A title — they won it in 2019, too, as the No. 6 seed — and completed their third win over the Rapids this season.
“Tonight, he really showed up,” senior midfielder Bryce Oprandi said of Fasulka. “He’s been having a good week at practice and today he really brought his A-game.”
Behind a balanced Cosby offensive outing that included multi-goal performances for Fasulka, Cole Oprandi, Tucker Mueller and Bradley Holmes, among others, the No. 1-seed Titans secured a 16-9 win over James River. Cosby will play at home for the first round of the Class 6 state tournament on Tuesday.
After trailing 1-0 in the opening minutes, Cosby’s offense came to life after a timeout near the end of the first quarter. Holmes used a spin-move to dodge past his defender and then fired into the bottom left corner, sparking a 9-0 run that lasted until the dying minutes of the first half and gave Cosby a commanding lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.
During that timeout, coach Eric Hall told his team to play its game, Bryce Oprandi said. “We knew we were going to go on a run,” the senior said, who’s committed to play college lacrosse at Mary Washington next season. “Once we get started early, we really know how to roll with that and we just kind of tack on more goals.”
The goals that Cosby’s offense added during the first half stretch made the game look like a blowout — at least during the first half. After both of the Cosby-James River games earlier this season were decided by a single goal, the Titans seemed to have figured out the Rapids by the third matchup. Freshman defender Adam Sulanke was first to a ground ball on a faceoff after many others failed to scoop it up. Sulanke went coast-to-coast, sprinting to the attacking end and connecting with Cole Oprandi for the quick strike and Cosby’s second goal.
“I was looking for him because we’ve had that play a couple times and I knew he was going to be there,” Sulanke said.
During the first two games, Cosby didn’t settle the ball on offense, frequently rushing plays when it wasn’t necessary, Cole Oprandi said. But Thursday evening, Cosby showed more patience on the offensive end, especially during the first-half run.
Holmes scored his second of the evening in the first half after Cosby worked the ball around the Rapids’ defenders, eventually connecting with the midfielder. Fasulka, who’s committed to play at Marquette next year, added another after two penalty markers flew, scoring anyway.
James River stormed back in the second half after trailing by seven at the break behind a powerful, step-down shot and goal from Grady Pereira followed by a behind-the-back one. But Fasulka’s goal ended the Rapids run and all but sealed the game.
“We knew they were also going to do a run… and we just kind of knew we had to stay [with] our game, keep our heads in there, not try to rush anything, stay calm and collected,” Bryce Oprandi said.
The Titans did just that.
O’Keefe nets 200th goal in Cosby girls’ title win
From outside the crease, Cosby senior Molly O’Keefe did a small hop as she wound up to shoot. The effort flew past James River’s goalie, rippling the back of the net and making O’Keefe the school’s all-time leading goal scorer and the only Cosby player to reach 200 goals.
O’Keefe’s historic goal was one she said she didn’t even distinctly remember. A teammate passed, she fired the shot and everyone came together to celebrate, she recalled. After five years — O’Keefe began playing for the Titans in eighth grade — the accomplishment is something she said she’s really been looking forward to.
“It’s just great. … my team has helped me get to this point and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Thursday night at home, a few hours after the Cosby boys team won the regional title, the girls team did the same. A dominant 20-5 win over James River makes the Titans Class 6, Region A champions and books their spot in states.
O’Keefe, a Penn State women’s lacrosse pledge, raised the regional trophy after the Titans kept their undefeated season.
Everything seemed easy for Cosby, which led 13-2 at half. O’Keefe scored one over-the-shoulder goal where she didn’t generate much power, but still managed to get it past the goalie.
Chloe Jackson, Elli and Taly Baumhover, Jenna Ellis and numerous others chipped in on the scoring sheet, too.
“We were able to execute our plays well and just get everything done the way we need to,” O’Keefe said.
“We all have been playing with each other for so long, and we just love each other and we actually want what’s best for everyone else,” she said. “I think that really showed tonight, being able to win the regional championship.”