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Conestoga puts first-round victory into perspective as it supports teammate and former player diagnosed with cancer

Tuesday, 26th May 2009

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 5/26/09

The Conestoga boys’ lacrosse team has learned to put lacrosse in its proper perspective in recent weeks.

Sure, winning the first District 1 lacrosse championship Friday and being ranked in the country nearly all season have moved the Pioneers into the limelight. But there are things more important than lacrosse; even much more important than Conestoga’s 13-7 first-round win over Garnet Valley tonight in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) playoffs at Radnor.

Recently it was learned that Pioneer junior Brad Herzlich’s older brother, Mark Herzlich, a junior football star at Boston College, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a malignant cancer found in the bone or soft tissue.

Mark, a former Pioneer lacrosse standout who has been projected as a possible first-round NFL draft pick, began taking chemotherapy at nearby Penn Medicine in Radnor a week ago.

To show their support for the major struggle that the Herzlich family is facing, the Conestoga players are wearing gold-colored laces on their spikes during the PIAA playoffs.

“It’s tough because kids kind of look up to him,” said senior attackman Paul Mita, who had two goals and three assists in tonight’s win, which advanced the Pioneers (22-1) into Saturday’s quarterfinals against Emmaus at a site and time to be determined . “It stinks that a guy who has worked so hard has something like that happen to him.”

Mita said that Mark Hurzlich came to watch the Pioneers defeat Garnet Valley in the District 1 quarterfinals and Conestoga players got to speak with him.

“Right after it happened (the diagnosis last month) we all talked to Brad,” Mita said. “And we saw Mark after the (last Garnet Valley game. He’s doing alright.

“It does put things into perspective. Lacrosse is fun but there’s a bigger picture.”

The picture for Conestoga lacrosse continues to look quite good. The Pioneers came out strong, as usual, and seized a 9-3 halftime lead before coasting in the second half.

Along with Mita, Austin Rogusky led the attack with three goals and an assist while Zach Jacobs added two goals and Jason Klunder and Matt Smith each had a goal and an assist. Ryan Lord (one goal) was a key at midfield, Ryan Buttembaum (one goal) was solid at the face-off X while Tanner Scott and Travis Armiger also scored once each.

On the defensive side, Conestoga coach Brian Samson cited the play of senior Phil Cuddeback and goalie Peter Zonino, who made 10 saves.

“I was wondering how we’d come out after the emotional high on Friday,” Samson said of the 7-4 win over Downingtown East in the district finals. “We came out and ran hard and made a lot of plays in the first half.”

Added Mita:  “We took a day off after the big game.  We got refreshed and had a nice practice yesterday, and came out strong from the beginning like we always do.”

Ricky Lehman, Steve Selverian and Eric Warden each scored two goals for the Jaguars, who finished 14-9 under first-year coach Frank Urso.

“They’re as good as they get,” said Urso. “The way they move the ball, the way they play together and talk to each other during the game. Brian’s done an outstanding job coaching them. They’re playing well, and good luck trying to stop them.”

Conestoga 13, Garnet Valley 7

Conestoga 5-4-2-2- 13

G. Valley 2-1-0-4 – 7

Conestoga scoring: Austin Rogusky 3, Paul Mita 2, Zach Jacobs 2, Travis Armiger 1, Ryan Lord 1, Ryan Buttenbaum 1, Matt Smith 1, Tanner Scott 1, Jason Klunder 1.

Garnet Valley scoring: Ricky Lehman 2, Steve Selverian 2, Eric Warden 2, Mike Montella 1.

Saves: Peter Zonino (Con) 10; John Reilly (GV) 10.



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