DELMAR The Bethlehem boys lacrosse team scored more goals in one quarter than it did in all but two of its 16 regular season games.
The Eagles tallied eight times in the third quarter on their way to an 11-3 victory over Schenectady in Saturday's Section II Class A opening round game.
"We obviously have struggled offensively this year, so it felt good to score a few goals and get some momentum going," said Bethlehem coach Dave Rounds.
The offensive burst was a welcome sight for Bethlehem goaltender Dan Comber. Throughout the regular season, the sophomore had been one of the top netminders in the Suburban Council, but he had little to show for it in the win column as the Eagles struggled to a 2-11 league record.
"Our offense just hasn't found it this year, but we clicked today," said Comber. "It seemed like we found what we hadn't found all year."
With the score tied at 2-2 at halftime, Tyler Bugbee gave the seventh-seeded Eagles (5-12) the lead for good with a goal off Brad Bettinger's assist less than two minutes into the third quarter. Bettinger then scored an unassisted goal 1:20 later to put Bethlehem ahead 4-2.
"Brad's an absolute workhorse," said Rounds. "When we have success, it's because of his offense and his defense."
The floodgates opened from there. Bugbee struck for his second goal of the period, and Joey Verstandig tallied to make the score 6-2. Verstandig, Nick Gosstola, John Fredette and Alex Merrill all added goals to give Bethlehem a 10-2 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Adam Liebold extended Bethlehem's scoring spurt to nine unanswered goals when he found the back of the cage early in the fourth quarter. No. 11 Schenectady (5-12) got one by Comber midway through the period, but that was all the offense the Patriots could muster in the second half.
Bettinger led the way with a hat trick, while Bugbee and Verstandig each added a pair of goals for Bethlehem. Comber stopped 15 of the 18 shots he faced, and he received assistance from his defenders.
"Our defense was playing out with their hands a lot and forcing a lot of ground balls (turnovers)," said Comber.
Bethlehem advances to Tuesday's quarterfinal round at No.2 Christian Brothers Academy (12-4) in Colonie.
"They're very, very good," said Rounds. "They're very balanced. I think that's their strength -- they have great balance on offense."