By Russ Atkinson & Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/6/10
Senior attackman Christian Cardinal scored four goals and La Salle jumped to a 6-2 halftime lead Saturday en route to an 8-5 victory over Springfield-Delco in the quarterfinals of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) boys’ lacrosse tournament at Harriton.
The District 12 champion Explorers (20-2) will face Seneca Valley in the semifinals Tuesday at a neutral site. Seneca Valley (20-2), the third-place finisher from District 7, advanced by downing District 7 champion Sewickley Academy, 12-7.
The District 1 runner-up Cougars (20-3), who defeated La Salle
, 11-5, on May 1, started off quickly as Billy McCullough won the opening face-off and fed Colin Keegan for a 1-0 lead nine seconds into play.
Soon the Explorers, now one win from competing for a third straight state championship, took over.
In a dominating span of 4:19, La Salle fired in four consecutive goals, two by Cardinal and one each by Pat Resch and Nick Cruice. Springfield-Delco’s Jordan Demcher made it 4-2 late in the period off a nifty feed from Josh Cavanaugh, but La Salle capitalized on several key Springfield turnovers and seized a 6-2 halftime lead on second-period goals by Kevin Forster and Cardinal (Dan Losier assist).
“We definitely executed today,” Cardinal said. “Last time we came out flat and just expected to win. This time we put the work in. We wanted revenge.”
In the second half, La Salle’s defense continued to thwart the Cougars’ attack while goalie John Lawlor (eight saves) made the key stops. The Explorers went up, 7-2, when Kevin Forster beat Austin Kaut off a feed from Jack Bogorowski with 6:22 to play.
The Cougars made a late drive when Bobby Gildea and McCullough scored eight seconds apart late in the period, but La Salle dominated possession in the fourth period and iced it when Patrick Resch scored with 7:59 to play.
Springfield-Delco rallied for victories after falling behind twice in the District 1 tourney. But this deficit was too large.
“We just didn’t slide at the beginning,” he said. “Once we settled down we were fine. I don’t think we can spot those goals and come back. We knew La Salle would give us everything they could, and they did.”
La Salle coach Bill Leahy made a few key changes, moving All-American attackman Forster out of the box to midfield, while also employing a rare zone defense at times. Also, Cardinal was moved up top into Forster’s spot.
“We played great – very disciplined, and we took advantage of their mistakes,” Leahy said. “We made some changes. We played a little zone here and there, which we don’t normally do. It was a great team effort.”
Said Friel: “They just executed better than we did. Our face-off kid (McCullough) battled his butt off and we just didn’t execute on offense … we had too many stupid turnovers.”
Friel added, though, that his team enjoyed a successful season, one that included an outright Central League crown and weeks near the top of the national rankings.
“It was a great year,” he said. “We have great kids, and that’s the tough part. At this point, we gave it everything we had. The kids were so committed, that’s what I will remember.”
Kaut (nine saves), an All-American headed to Penn State, agreed.
“It was a heck of a season,” he said. “Everyone played great and fought hard to the end the game. I wouldn’t change a thing, it would have been nice to have a state championship, but we got that Central League title and no one can take that away.
“It’s frustrating. We came out flying around and got behind and it was too big a deficit to come back from. They’re a great team, but we could have had them. They’re defending state champs; they came out and wanted it just a little bit more than we did.”
Cardinal, a reserve last year on the first PIAA championship team, admitted he was not thinking about a state title when the season began.
“I just wanted to get my chance,” he said. “It was mostly a new team this year, but we believe in ourselves and we work hard to make it happen.”