Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/23/14
Avon Grove came into Thursday night’s District 1 boys’ lacrosse championship carrying some extra weight – a chip the size of a manhole cover on its collective shoulders.
The Devils used a 7-0 first-half run to avenge an earlier defeat to Bishop Shanahan and repeated as district champion with a 9-3 thumping of the Eagles at Henderson.
“We were coming off a loss (three weeks ago) and we wanted to play them again, in this game,” said Avon Grove midfielder Ryan Cook, who scored four goals. “I think we wanted this game more than they did. We had it circled on our calendar.”
With the district’s top seed, the Devils (17-4) will play District 3 third-place finisher Hershey in the first round of the PIAA tournament on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined. Bishop Shanahan (19-2) will face the winner of Friday’s fifth-place game between Upper Dublin and Penncrest in the first round.
In their first meeting, Shanahan defeated Avon Grove, 10-7, in essentially a Ches-Mont championship game.
This game featured a one-hour lightning delay late in the first half. It didn’t matter much to Avon Grove, which dominated from the start and never allowed the Eagles to get closer than five goals after play resumed.
“We just wanted to come out and play our game,” said Under Armour All-American goalie Will Schreiner, who finished with 13 saves behind a staunch defense that featured Nick Cardile, Anthony Cardile, Brendan McNicholas and Danny Norris. “Shanahan made a couple of early mistakes and we capitalized, and that’s what good teams do.”
Good teams enforce their will, and the Red Devils did just that after Dylan Alderman’s unassisted goal at the 6:04 mark of the first quarter gave them a 1-0 lead.
The advantage lasted less than two minutes as Cook scored off an assist from Tanner Peck, paving the way for goals by Bryce Reid, Stephen Cyron (Cook assist) and Peck in a span of 1 minute, 34 seconds that made it 4-1 heading into the second quarter.
With dark clouds gathering on the horizon – literally and figuratively for Shanahan – the Eagles (18-2) quickly fell into a 6-1 hole as Cook (Reid assist) and Reid (unassisted) scored again before lightning halted play with 4:26 remaining in the half.
The delay did little to slow fifth-seeded Avon Grove’s momentum. Cook needed just 29 seconds to record his third goal following the resumption of play before Jacob Guinan cut the gap to 7-2 with an unassisted strike at the 1:16 mark.
“They completely outplayed us,” said Shanahan coach John Heisman, whose club was playing in its first district final. “They made the plays and we had some uncharacteristic mistakes. They came up with most of the 50/50 balls and we didn’t get many face-offs.”
The Red Devils held a 12-4 advantage in face-offs and an even more telling 24-12 edge in groundballs. “That tells the story right there.”
Cyron scored unassisted and later posted an assist on Cook’s fourth goal to counter an unassisted strike by Eric Giannetti.
Leading 9-3 heading into the fourth quarter, Avon Grove continued to dominate time of possession in a scoreless final period.
“Our players had a chip on their shoulders,” said AG coach Eric Jackson. “We made some things happen. But we realize there are still things we need to work on and improve.”
The work will continue when the PIAA playoffs open Wednesday when Avon Grove draws Hershey, the No. 3 seed from District 3, and Shanahan faces (1-5) Upper Dublin or Penncrest in the opening round.
But for now, there is no denying that revenge tasted awfully sweet for the Red Devils.
“When we lost to them, it was a reality check for us,” said Schreiner. “We had this game circled with Bishop Shanahan. In big games, we have people that embrace the moment. I’m a fan of the big moment.”
The big moment was spurred by the realization that another shot at Shanahan loomed on the horizon.
“Our defense was outstanding and our offense was clicking,” said Cook. “All of our guys came up huge. We didn’t want to be playing anybody but Shanahan in this game.”
NOTES: Bishop Shanahan held a narrow 24-23 advantage in shots … Jason Yoquinto turned in a solid performance in goal with eight saves for the Eagles … Avon Grove did a remarkable job silencing the high-scoring tandem of John Mehok and Alex Wagner, who came in with 56 and 55 goals combined but were kept off the scoreboard … Heisman: “We’re still alive for next week. Our program is on the rise, but tonight they were a little hungrier than we were.”
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Avon Grove 9, Bishop Shanahan 3
Avon Grove 4-3-2-0 – 9
Bishop Shanahan 1-1-1-0 – 3
Ryan Cook 4g, 1a
Stephen Cyron 2g, 1a
Bryce Reid 2g, 2a
Tanner Peck 1g, 1a
Eric Russo 2a
Will Schreiner 13 saves
Dylan Alderman 1g
Jacob Guinan 1g
Eric Giannetti 1g
Jason Yoquinto 8 saves