By Pat White
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/22/13
Matt Rambo had three of his four goals in the final period to spark La Salle to an 11-6 victory tonight over St. Joseph’s Prep in the Catholic League championship at Plymouth Whitemarsh.
The Explorers (18-2) advance to the District 12 title game today vs. Public League champion Northeast at the Germantown Supersite at 4:45 p.m. The winner advances to the PIAA tournament.
La Salle has won 18 Catholic League titles – including two straight – and nine of the last 10.
This crown was a tough one as Scott Scheuerle scored two goals to help the Hawks (12-8) fight back from a 603 deficit and trail just 7-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
Prep head coach Eric Gregg said it was simple why his team couldn’t sustain momentum after the comeback: senior Matt Rambo, recently named an Under Armour All-American.
“We wanted to limit him as much as we could to six-on-six opportunities and not let him score in transition,” Gregg said. “He is a game changer and a difference maker. You can only hope to contain him and we didn’t do a good enough job.”
Rambo responded – and he did it in dazzling fashion.
First, Rambo took the ball on a restart at the midline, ran through four or five Prep defenders while taking multiple checks and somehow held onto the ball. He drew two penalties before putting the ball into an empty cage.
“I knew someone was going to come from behind, so I tried to beat the first guy and was just weaving through the defense,” Rambo said.
St. Joe’s Prep was able to limit Rambo to one goal in the three quarters, but La Salle’s surrounding cast picked up the slack. Jeff Cimbalista netted three goals and Sean Coleman added two goals and a pair of helpers. Michael Rihm and Stephen Hudak also chipped in with a goal each.
“They had contributions from a lot of other guys today,” Gregg said. “When Coleman and Rambo are on, they are tough to beat. Their defense and goalie were on as well, so credit those guys from top to bottom. They made more plays than us today, especially in the big situations.”
Rambo said that he didn’t get frustrated by being shut off in the first half. He deferred to his teammates and they were able to carry the scoring load.
“They played me tight in the first half by locking me off and threw a zone in front of me,” Rambo said. “When I saw that, I let my teammates get involved. They backed off after we executed so well and that opened things up for me.”
Despite the loss, Gregg was proud of his team for the way they competed throughout the season. The fifth year coach said he tries to emulate La Salle’s model of success and plans on competing again next season.
“I wouldn’t trade these kids for anybody,” Gregg said. “Our guys are tough and we aren’t afraid of anyone. We knew we could withstand the first few punches, but we got worn down late in the game. Next season starts tomorrow and hopefully it will be us holding the trophy.”
The Explorers will be heavily favored to win Thursday, but Rambo will not take anything for granted.
“It feels good to win the Catholic League because if we didn’t, we would be going home,” Rambo said. “It’s a great feeling to be going back to work tomorrow.”
Catholic League Championship
La Salle 11, St. Joseph’s Prep 6
La Salle 3 2 2 4—11
St. Joes Prep 2 1 3 0—6
Matt Rambo 4 goals, 1 assist
Jeff Cimbalista 3 goals
Sean Coleman 2 goals, 2 assists
Stephen Hudak 1 goal
Mike Rihm 1 goal
Brian McNamara 2 assists
Colin MacDougal 6 saves
St. Joe’s Prep
Scott Scheuerle 2 goals
Bill Savage 2 goals
Pat Walsh 1 goal
Tyler Cliggett 1 goal
Will D’Avino 2 assists
Mike Marchese 7 saves