By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/8/12
No one should be surprised to see this year’s matchup in Saturday’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) boys’ lacrosse title game at HersheyPark Stadium.
Conestoga and La Salle will meet at 1:30 p.m. for the crown (Phillylacrosse.com will be blogging live from the site). And haven’t we heard that before?
Just three years ago, in the first PIAA title game, La Salle toppled Conestoga, 7-3. Then, in 2010 Conestoga downed La Salle, 10-6, in the championship game.
Last year Conestoga returned to Hershey and downed St. Joseph’s Prep, 13-4, for the crown. Now, the Pioneers (22-3) again meet La Salle (20-4) for the title.
“It’s exciting and a testament how hard these guys have worked,” said Conestoga coach Brian Samson. “This is a really talented group of kids. A lot of people thought we’d be here, but it’s not easy to get here no matter how talented you are.
“We are thrilled to be back.”
Conestoga, the Central League champion and four-time District 1 champ, is ranked No. 1 in the PIAA and No. 3 in the All Schools Division of the PA Media Lacrosse Rankings. In the national rankings, the Pioneers are among the top 11 teams in the ESPNHS, MaxPreps and Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse rankings.
La Salle, the Catholic League and District 12 champion, is ranked No. 2 in the PIAA and No. 4 in the All-School Division of the PA Media Lacrosse rankings. The Explorers are ranked No. 17 by MaxPreps, and No. 19 by ESPNHS.
The Explorers played Conestoga back on May 5, falling 5-4. La Salle has been a team on fire lately; earning impressive state playoff wins over Great Valley (16-4), Downingtown West (12-5) and Mt. Lebanon (12-3).
The Explorers’ attack is led by junior All-American Mat Rambo. They have received a large boost lately by junior midfielder Sean Coleman, who missed much of the year due to a football-related injury. Senior Adam Stefanowicz is also a key attackman. Senior defenseman and All-American Casey Eidenshink was the Catholic League MVP.
“They are worthy adversary; they are very well coached,” said Samson. “They have Rambo and Coleman who are superstars, and their unsung hero is their goalie (Cory Shaffer).
“It’s a tall order to try to beat them. We have a lot of respect for them.”
Conestoga features an attack led by senior All-Americans Bradlee Lord and Tyler Brooke and Connor Frisina. The defense is led by All-American Jamie Ikeda and long pole Miles Thomas, who is a key to the patented Conestoga transition.
“Obviously, we have to stop their transition game,” La Salle coach Bill Leahy said. “They have been there three straight times and they have 20 seniors, so they have a lot of players that have been there before.
“Of our 19 juniors, only a couple were on the trip to Hershey. The face-off X will be important and we need to get at least half of the 50-50s like the first time we played. Their attack is outstanding.”