By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/24/16
Two teams with high expectations in 2016 met today at La Salle in a matchup of highly-ranked teams – and few were left disappointed.
Sophomore Matt Clibanoff scored his second goal with 14.3 seconds to play off a Matt Baskin feed to lift the host Explorers to a 6-5 win over Conestoga on a warm but windy non-league boys’ lacrosse opener.
“Conestoga is a good rival and so well-coached and for being literally nine days in, we did a lot of things well,” said La Salle coach Bill Leahy. “These early games help you get back to work.”
La Salle, No. 4 in the Phillylacrosse.com Rankings, fell behind, 5-4, early in the fourth period when 2016 Jack McPherson scored his second goal off a Henry Berg feed on an extra-man opportunity.
Conestoga, ranked No. 6, had the ball with just over two minutes, but made a costly turnover. La Salle capitalized to tie it when Baskin found senior Colin Cahill with 1:40 to play.
“You can count on Colin,” said Leahy.
The Pioneers won the ensuing face-off, but the Explorers regained possession and after failing to score in transition Leahy set up a play for Baskin to look for a cutter. Clibanoff, committed to Ohio State, took the pass and converted low.
“We called time out and knew what we were going to do,” said Clibanoff. “Brett was behind the cage and we saw the mismatch and he hit me cutting and I just had to hit the net. That’s what I did.”
“We practiced that play as our thinking drill,” added Leahy. “It worked today just like it was supposed to; Matt Clib worked it high to low.”
Clibanoff credited the La Salle defense for regaining possessions late in the game.
“Our defense really helped us out the last two and a half minutes and slid really well,” he said.
“This was a huge win, but we will get back at it tomorrow (for practice),” added Clibanoff. “It’s just one win; it doesn’t mean anything.”
La Salle started strong as 2018 Brendan Meagher (two goals), Chris Hladczuk and Clibanoff scored to make it 3-0. But Brant Pittman scored early in the second period and McPherson (two goals) made it it 3-2 midway through the period.
Meagher made it 4-2 early in the second half, but Tate Kienzel scored consecutive tallies to tie it.
“Our boys came out on fire out of the gate; I think we scored on our first three shots,” said Leahy. “But they got some momentum and scored some goals and the next thing you knew we were in a battle.”
Conestoga coach Brody Bush said despite the loss he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“The beginning of the season is always a learning experience,” said Bush. Coming back from 3-0 is hard and our team did fight back. It’s painful because it’s such a close loss.
“But I was really proud of my team, I feel like the defense, after the jitters were gone, really clamped down ando only allowed three goals in the last three quarters. We have a lot of younger players filling new roles and the future of this team is very bright.”
La Salle 6, Conestoga 5
Conestoga 0-2-2-1 5
La Salle 3-0-1-2- 6
Henry Berg 2a
Brant Pittman 1g
Jack McPherson 2g
Tate Kienzle 2g, 1a
Dan Cepielik 6 saves
Colin Cahill 1g, 1a
Brett Baskin 2a
Chris Hladczuk 1g
Matt Clibanoff 2g, 1a
Brendan Meagher 2g
Mike Clibanoff 2 saves
Matt McLaren 3 saves
Anthony Giuliani 9 of 15 FO