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With Manheim Township’s PIAA title, is gap closing between Philly and the rest of PA?

Monday, 11th June 2018

Categories Boy's/Men's, Girl's/Women's, High School  
 

By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/11/18

Manheim Township boys’ lacrosse coach Dan Lyons addressed a large media contingent Saturday after his Blue Streaks did what some thought could not happen: Become the first team from outside of the Philly region to win a PIAA state title.

Manheim Township senior goalie Caton Johnson hoists the state championship trophy

The question was one that everybody wanted to ask: Has this win proven that District 3 and teams from around the state are closing the gap with the Philly region after 10 years of PIAA-sanctioned tournaments?

“It says, ‘Hey, (yes) if you’re willing to put in the hard work,” Lyons said, after his team toppled La Salle, 6-4, at West Chester East to claim the Class AAA (big school) championship. “These guys worked incredibly hard in the off-season. They play multiple sports, they take care of their work in the classroom.

“If the program is willing to do all those things, there is no difference between us and them.

“It feels great, and now that burden is removed form everybody else. Everybody else knows, ‘Hey it can happen.'”

This 2018 season has shown examples that teams from around the state can compete – and win – against District 1 and District 12 boys’ and girls’ teams.

Manheim Township for years has been the power in District 3 boys’ lacrosse. But until Manheim convincingly defeated District 1 champion Garnet Valley, 15-6, in the semifinals on Tuesday, no boys’ or girls’ team from outside of District 1 and 12 had advanced to the PIAA finals (except in girls’ Class AA where no teams from District 1 or 12 have been sent to the bottom of the bracket, starting in 2017).

Also this year, teams from the rest of the state had these wins or significant near-wins:

*Manheim Township’s girls became the first girls’ team to defeat a District 1 or 12 squad to reach a PIAA final, downing District 1 runner-up Springfield-Delco, 12-10 in the AAA semis. This came after two other District 3 teams, Exeter and Wilson, gave Springfield major challanges in the first two rounds, each falling by a goal.

*Parkland’s boys (District 11) topped District 1’s Upper Dublin in states for District 11’s first win over a District 1 or 12 team in states since 2010.

*Parkland’s girls (District 11) gave their district its first PIAA win over a District 1 girls’ squad, 8-7 over fourth-seed Perkiomen Valley.

*Mars (District 7) took Strath Haven to overtime in the boys’ AA semifinals before bowing, 12-11.

*Cumberland Valley (District 3 runner-up) gave District 1 champion Garnet Valley a battle in the PIAA AAA quarterfinals before falling, 6-4.

Manheim Township girls’ coach Mark Pinkerton – whose Streaks fell to Unionville, 11-6, in the Class AAA final Saturday – was disappointed but pleased that his team made its first state final appearance. His teams have gone 171-32 since he took over in 2011, but this year’s breakthrough wins provided proof of his program’s growth.

“I am really proud,” he said Saturday after the loss at WC East. “It’s been a long process since I started (coaching at Manheim) in 2011. It takes a long time developing a program and we got more big game experience. Now we got here and we got a taste of it and know what it takes to get here. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, it’s a special team.

“It’s not about talent – there is talent, it’s about their effort and commitment to working hard.”

Manheim Township players agreed that talent alone will not lead to a state title. The Streaks surely had the D1 recruits, but it takes much more, they said.

“Four years … we’ve been saying this was going to happen,” said Manheim Township senior goalie and North Carolina signee Caton Johnson. “No one believed it but us. (They said) we’re just a team from Central PA.

“We didn’t get this handed it us. We’ve worked long and hard. When a team believes in themselves it doesn’t matter what everyone else believes. We believed in each other; that is all that matters. You can’t stop a team that believes in itself. This is for all the people that put in the work to grow this program; everyone that came before us. the coaching staff and everybody on this team.”

Manheim senior midfielder Grayson Sallade – a Virginia signee – also addressed the reason for Manheim’s success.

“High school sports comes down to grit, preparation, will and want-to,” he said. “Obviously a lot of talent helps, but in high school if you have that grit and want-to, it goes a long way.”

Manheim senior midfielder Zach Diamond (a High Point signee) agreed:

“Our senior class, this whole team, this entire program deserves this,” he said. “We worked way too hard to not get in the state championship. Look at this, we won it – we beat the powerhouse La Salle.”

All-time Pennsylvania Boys’ State Champions

Keystone Cup Champions (East vs. Central/West Coaches Association champions met, before PIAA sanctioned lacrosse)
2000 – Haverford School 11, Mt. Lebanon 8
2001 – Ridley 12, Sewickley 4
2002 – Ridley 15, Mt. Lebanon 4
2003 – Ridley 13, Mt. Lebanon 7
2004 – La Salle 13, Shady Side Academy 5
2005 – Haverford School 19, Hempfield 9
2006 – Malvern Prep 15, Manheim Township 5
2007 – Downingtown East 5, Mt. Lebanon 3
2008 – La Salle 7, Manheim Township 5

PIAA Champions
2009: La Salle 7, Conestoga 3
2010: Conestoga 10, La Salle 6
2011: Conestoga 13, St. Joseph’s Prep 4
2012: Conestoga 10, La Salle 7
2013: La Salle 13, Conestoga 4
2014: Penncrest 12, Avon Grove 7
2015: Radnor 11, St. Joseph’s Prep 10, OT
2016: Springfield-Delco 4, La Salle 3
2017 Class AA – Springfield-Delco 9, Henderson 8
2017 Class AAA – Avon Grove 5, Conestoga 4, 2 OT
2018 Class AA – Bishop Shanahan 13, Strath Haven 5
2018 Class AAA – Manheim Township 6, La Salle 4

All-time PIAA Girls’ Lacrosse Champions
2009 – Radnor 20, Strath Haven 10
2010 – Radnor 14, Springfield-Delco 7
2011 – Garnet Valley 17, Downingtown East 14
2012 – Garnet Valley 10, Strath Haven 9, OT
2013 – Harriton 8, Radnor 7
2014 – Garnet Valley 13, Springfield-Delco 9
2015 – Garnet Valley 14, Conestoga 10
2016 – Conestoga 18, Radnor 7
2017 Class AA – Radnor 20, Kennard-Dale 8
2017 Class AAA – Archbishop Carroll 9, Springfield-Delco 8
2018 Class AA – Villa Maria Academy 17, Kennard-Dale 5
2018 Class AAA – Unionville 11, Manheim Township 6


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