Prior to the start of the 2009 boys lacrosse season, Emmaus coach Jef Hewlings was quoted as saying that “this is the team that on paper should break through and win a state playoff game.”
Junior attackman Will Scott scored a hat trick and senior goaltender Dan Zagnoli came up with a number of key saves in the second half, as District 11 champ Emmaus (19-4) defeated Lower Merion, District 1′s fifth-place team, 7-5, in the opening round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) state playoffs at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.
“Every day we make history and sometimes it’s good history and sometimes it’s bad, but it feels good to get that monkey off the program’s back,” said Hewlings of the program’s first-ever win in the state playoffs. “I don’t think we did it in grand style and I don’t think we played particularly well, but when you play good teams that happens.”
Emmaus, which has won eight straight and 12 of its last 13 games, advances to the second round of the state playoffs on Saturday where it will meet District 1 champ Conestoga. The Pioneers defeated Garnet Valley, 13-7.
Conestoga topped Emmaus, 8-6, back on March 24 in a game played at Emmaus’ Memorial Field.
Lower Merion, which ended its season at 17-6, played nearly three quarters of the game without first-team all-Central League performer Jordan Wolf. The junior attack, who has committed to Duke, left the game with 9:21 remaining in the second period following a collision with the Hornets TJ Doherty.
“Obviously he’s a big part of our team and it’s really difficult when he’s not in there to makeup for it,” said Aces coach Chet Laubach. “We were rotating different guys in there (Ahmad Zachary and Scott Benson) but it’s difficult because we depend on him so much.”
Andrew Mongeluzzi, who’s committed to Towson, led the Aces with a pair of goals while Chad Morrison, Matt Dilks and Wolf added solo scores.
Junior Tate Klidonas, who was voted the Lehigh Valley Conference’s MVP, added a pair of goals (No.’s 58 and 59 on the season) while Alex Kuehner and Dan Kinek also added tallies.
Zagnoli, who’s headed to Ithaca, N.Y. following the season to join the NCAA Division I runner-up Big Red of Cornell, had 12 saves in net for the Hornets and allowed just two goals in the final three periods after giving up three goals in the first 12 minutes of the game.
“We gave him the game ball and you know what, we haven’t given a game ball all year,” said Hewlings. “He made a number of big saves in the second half. He really kept us in it. Zags certainly played a great game for us.”
Emmaus 7, Lower Merion 5
L. Merion 3-0-1-1 5
Emmaus 2-2-3-0 – 7
LM goals: Andrew Mongeluzzi 2, Chad Morrison 1, Jordan Wolf 1, Mat Dilks 1.
EM goals: Will Scott 3, Tate Klidonas 2, Aldex Kuehner 1, Dan Kinek 1.
Saves: Cody Hornung (LM) 14, Dan Zagnoli (Em) 12.
Shots: Emmaus 31, L. Merion 26.