By Pat White
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/29/13
La Salle got scoring from five different players and squeaked out a 6-4 victory over Radnor in the first round of PIAA boys’ lacrosse playoffs on Wednesday at Plymouth Whitemarsh.
The win vaults the Explorers (20-2) into the quarterfinals Saturday against Garnet Valley (a 9-6 winner over Great Valley) at a site and time to be determined. Radnor closes its season at 18-5.
The Explorers controlled the flow of play for much of the game despite winning just three of 14 face-offs. It was a possession dominated game and La Salle was able to take advantage of more opportunities in the offensive end.
Radnor’s defense limited La Salle’s high-scoring attacker Matt Rambo to just two goals. Senior goaltender Brendan Manderack came up big with 10 saves, including some acrobatic kick saves from point-blank range.
“Radnor played great and credit to Coach (John) Begier,” said La Salle coach Bill Leahy. “His team was well-prepared and they came out with a great game plan.
“Their goalie made some fantastic saves, they won face-offs and they limited Matt [Rambo] and they made it a tight game. There are no style points and we’re happy to win.”
It came down to a battle of defenses and methodical offensive possessions. Radnor executed its game plan in limiting Rambo’s chances, but he was still able to score his two goals on only four shots.
“I was trying to set picks and get other people open,” Rambo said. “I didn’t get as many touches but that’s fine with us because someone else is going to step up and carry the load.”
Begier said the plan was to beat Rambo to his spot and to send early slides to disrupt him. The defense did its job on Rambo and Manderack practically stood on his head to keep the game close.
“I thought throughout the game our goalie played terrific,” Begier said. “Defensively, we had a scheme that we came in with and we executed it very well. We got going a little bit better offensively in the second half, but we couldn’t convert on our chances.”
After early goals by Rambo and Stephen Hudak, Radnor was able to cut the lead to 2-1 with a goal from Mike Cherry. La Salle took a 3-1 lead into the second half after a goal by long pole George Uhrich.
Sean Coleman and Jack Wilson traded goals in the third, before Brian McNamara capped the scoring in the quarter. La Salle looked confident going into the final period with a 5-2 lead. The defense was at its best in the third quarter, and Leahy said limiting six-on-six opportunities was one of the goals for the game.
“The defense was great, especially in the second half,” Leahy said. “Our goalie got picked off on one goal, there was a man-down goal and a couple garbage goals. We didn’t give up much six-on-six straight up which is what we wanted to limit.”
Wilson added another goal to start the fourth to give Radnor some life. Rambo capped the scoring for La Salle on a dodge from the right wing. He dipped between a few defenders, threw three head fakes and beat Manderack to all but seal the game. Tommy Hemcher added a late goal for Radnor, but the Red Raiders couldn’t muster the offense late in the game.
Leahy liked the balance in scoring when Rambo was shut off. He said that Rambo getting shut off is nothing new and that in the playoffs other players will be counted on.
“The other guys are going to have to step up when Matt gets shut off and they did,” Leahy said.
“He still had the big one early and the one at the end to seal it. He is a playmaker and he has seen those looks all year.”
La Salle 6, Radnor 4
La Salle 2 1 2 1 –6
Radnor 1 0 1 2–4
Sean Coleman 1 goal, 1 assist
Matt Rambo 2 goals
Stephen Hudak 1 goal
Brian McNamara 1 goal
George Uhrich 1 goal
Michael Pascali 1 assist
Zach Drake 2 assists
Nick Hreshko 5 saves
Jack Wilson 2g
Mike Cherry 1g 1a
Tom Hemcher 1g
Peter Donato 1a
Jake Shapiro FO 12-14
Brendan Manderack 11 saves