By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/26/09
After much anticipation, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) lacrosse tournament opens today with 16 boys’ and 16 girls’ teams shooting for spots in the state title games June 6 at HersheyPark Stadium.
The games are being played at neutral sites; although it was not until yesterday that it was determined that the Emmaus boys would play its first game against District 1 fifth-place finisher Lower Merion at Allentown’s J. Birney Crum Stadium; the first site was, in fact, Emmaus.
The Emmaus-Lower Merion game, slated for 5 p.m. is one of the best matchups heading into action today.
The game features a junior-laden Green Hornets (18-4) team that dominated play in the Lehigh Valley Conference, which makes up nearly all of District 11. Emmaus is coached by Ridley High grad and former Penncrest coach Jef Hewlings, who scheduled five Central leagues foes as well as St., Joseph’s Prep and Malvern Prep on his non-league slate.
Emmaus defeated Ridley (8-7), Garnet Valley (8-7) and Penncrest (12-3) and held tough against Central league champion Conestoga (8-6) and Springfield-Delco (11-7) in defeat. The Green Hornets also fell to Malvern (10-6) and St. Joe’s Prep (11-9) and have won every game by at least 11 goals since the lost to The Prep.
Lower Merion, meanwhile, is also hot. The Aces (17-5) secured the fifth seed by edging Abington, 13-12, in overtime in a playback game and crushing West Chester East, 15-6, in the fifth-place game.
Other boys’ matchups involving District 1 and District 12 teams:
Boys: La Salle (12-1) vs. Central Bucks East (1-4) at Abington, 5 p.m. The Explorers figure to be without Tyler Knarr (recurring knee problems), their All-American long-stick midfielder who is capable of controlling a game with his ability to win face-offs and run the fast break like a point guard. Without him, La Salle will still resort to a half-field game with a bevy of skilled attackmen and middies; and they still have a great defense and goalie. The Patriots will need a near-perfect effort to pull the upset.
Boys: Springfield-Delco (1-3) vs. Hempfield (3-2) at Gov. Mifflin, 7 p.m. The Cougars secured the third spot with a key 11-8 win over CB East, and it gives them a strong shot at advancing. Hempfield is somewhat of an unknown to the Philly area, but the Black Knights did give Downingtown East a tough game back on March 21 in their opener, falling, 9-7.
Boys: Downingtown East vs. West Chester East at Radnor, 6 p.m. These two teams met April 14 when the Cougars dealt the Vikings their first defeat, 14-5, in Ches-Mont League play. Downingtown went on to win the Ches-Mont with an undefeated mark and East fell slightly at the end of the year, but it earned s state berth with a 9-8 OT win over Garnet Valley in the playbacks.
Boys: Conestoga (1-1) vs. Garnet Valley (1-7) at Radnor, 8 p.m. These Central League foes square off for the third time. Conestoga won the regular-season game, 9-4, and then handled the Jaguars, 10-4, in the district quarterfinals. The Pioneers have gone 13-0 against Central League teams this year.
The girls’ matchups involving District 1, 11 and 12 teams:
Girls; Archbishop Carroll (12-1) vs. Bayard Rustin (1-4) at Abington, 7 p.m. This is one of the most intriguing contests to look at. The nine-time Catholic League champion Patriots (14-5) have emerged following a slow start and have gone 10-1 (losing only 15-13 to Radnor) since a 13-8 loss to the same Rustin team at the Katie Samson Festival. Carroll coach Lorraine Beers has made a number of changes since the beginning of the year and the Pats looked like a team peaking in their 16-8 win over Archbishop Wood Thursday in the Catholic league title game. The Golden Knights look to bounce back following a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to Strath Haven in the third third-place game.
Girls: Strath Haven (1-3) vs. Penn Manor (3-2). The Panthers face a District 3 team that fell to Manheim Township, 18-17, in the title game after leading, 16-14. The Comets (20-2) did not face any District 1 teams, so again it’s hard to make comparisons. It’s doubtful they’ve seen anyone as skilled as Emily Garrity.
Girls: Unionville (1-5) vs. Southern Lehigh (11-1) at Emmaus, 7 p.m. (game was moved from 5 p.m.) The District 11 and Lehigh valley Conference champion Spartans have won 10 straight games, but dropped early-season decisions to District 1 foes Souderton (16-5) and Pennridge (21-4). Unionville is coming off big playback wins over Boyertown and North Penn.
Girls: Radnor (1-2) vs. North Penn (1-6) at West Chester East, 6 p.m. The Red Raiders look to get back on track after falling to Springfield-Delco, 14-9 in the District 1 title game and seeing their 44-game win streak snapped. The Maidens hope to prove they can beat a top-tier team after losing two of three in the District 1 tourney.
Girls: Springfield-Delco (1-1) vs. Boyertown (1-7) at WC East, 8 p.m. The District 1 champion Cougars were a young and struggling team at the outset of the year when they started 1-2. This may be the best job of coaching yet by Keith Broome, Kathleen Geiger and Co. Boyertown gets a tough draw after edging Abington, 17-15, for the final District 1 berth,