By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/30/09
La Salle earned a huge graduation present today – a ticket to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) boys’ lacrosse semifinals.
The Explorers seven unanswered goals in the second and third quarters and then held off a late rally to defeat Downingtown East, 10-8, in a PIAA quarterfinal at Harriton.
Kevin Forster and Pete Schwartz each scored three goals for the Explorers, who had 16 seniors graduate in the morning. La Salle advances to the semifinals Tuesday against the Manheim Township, a 6-5 winner over Mt. Lebanon, at a neutral site and time to be determined.
La Salle (19-4) trailed, 3-1, and then, 4-3, early in the second quarter when it began to take over.
First, Forster scored with 8:54 to play in the half to tie it and then Schwartz scored twice before Westy Hopkins scored with 12 seconds left in the half.
“As a team, I think we kind of got caught off guard because we had graduation, but coach (Bill Leahy) has prepared us for the pressure with the schedule he put together,” said Schwartz. “I think we were able to keep our composure in the first half and hold onto it.”
The Explorers continued to dominate in the second half as Randy Forster made it 8-4 while Kevin Forster and Pat Resch each scored to make it 10-4.
“I think our 16 seniors are all mentally very tough,” said senior All-American goalie Niko Amato, who made 11 saves. “Our coaches did a good job of getting us mentally focused.”
Downingtown East (20-4) did make a strong comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, scoring four goals. Shane Sturgis (four goals) and Kenny Maas (three) each had a pair in the surge, but Amato made several key stops to seal it.
“We didn’t play four quarters,” said Cougars coach Tom Slate. “I thought we played good in the first and fourth, but not in the second and third. We talked about it that if we make a mistake against a team like that it’s a goal.
“We made three or four in the second and two or three in the third and that turned into goals.”
Amato said he was not worried when the Cougars staged the comeback attempt.
“I think all the players are spotlight players, especially on the defensive end,” he said. “I trust these players with my life and when push comes to shove we throw all the style points out the window and luckily we know how to close out a game.”
La Salle 10, Downingtown East 8
Downingtown East 3-1-0-4 – 8
La Salle 3-4-3-0 – 10
Downingtown East: Shane Sturgis 4, Kenny Maas 3, Mason Poli 1.
La Salle: Kevin Forster 3, Pete Schwartz 3, Kevin Forster 1, Pat Resch 1, Derek Bogorowski 1, Westy Hopkins 1
Saves: Matt Normoyle (DE) 7, Niko Amato (L) 11.