By Matthew Blymier
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/2/09
SHILLINGTON – Following a 7-5 win over Manheim Township in last year’s Keystone Cup title game, La Salle coach Bill Leahy told his team “We’ve won the last Keystone Cup, now it’s time to work for the first PIAA championship.”
Thanks to a 10-3 win over Township Tuesday night in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association semifinals at Gov. Mifflin, the Explorers will get that chance.
La Salle (20-4) struggled early but finally put the pieces together to beat the Blue Streaks (20-6) and will get the chance to avenge an early season loss to Conestoga in the state championship Saturday (2 p.m.) at Hersheypark Stadium.
“I remember saying that to the team,” Leahy said of his postgame speech. “We’ve gotten this chance because of this senior class. This senior class is special. Talented and strong willed. School’s out and we’re the only ones there practicing. It shows how much they care.”
The Explorers – who graduated 17 seniors Saturday before their quarterfinal win over Downingtown East – struggled in figuring the Streaks’ zone defense in the first quarter and managed just one score, from Derek Bogorowski, in the first quarter.
Township goalie Brian Heckert added to La Salle’s troubles stopping six shots in the opening frame.
“Their goalie was great,” said Leahy. “He made some great saves.”
“I couldn’t be prouder,” MT coach Rich Lefever said of his senior goalie. “I told the team after the game that we couldn’t have a goalie to play better.”
La Salle neutralized the Streaks’ zone defense in the second quarter as they pumped in five scores. Patrick Resch, Nick Cruice, Bogorowski, Randy Forster and Westy Hopkins all netted shots for the Explorers in the second quarter. Dan Wertz added a goal for MT early in the quarter.
Trailing 6-1 at halftime, the Blue Streaks put together a two-goal run in the third quarter when Rob Wertz scored on a crease drive and DuBois ripped a shot to make it 6-3 with 4:55 left in the quarter. The Explorers answered with scores by Hopkins late in the third quarter and Tucker Durkin, Kevin Forster and Schwartz in the fourth.
La Salle’s defense harassed the Streaks throughout the game by playing physically clean – only one penalty in the entire game – while goalie Niko Amato made four stops.
“They played great defense,” Lefever said. “Fast feet and very physical.”
With an all-Philly area championship game, Leahy was asked what the central part of the state has to do to catch the east.
“Just keep playing. We’ve been playing longer,” he said. “Just like when Baltimore was ahead of us for a long time. Now we’ve kind of caught up. Just few more years for (Central, PA) to catch up, it’s inevitable.”
The key for La Salle (ranked No. 1 in the PA Media Lacrosse Rankings) beating Conestoga (No. 2) on Saturday, and avenging the 6-3 early season loss, while earning the first PIAA gold medal according to Leahy is simple.
“Whatever we did then, we need to not make those same mistakes,” he said.
La Salle 10, Manheim Township 3
La Salle 1-5-1-3 – 10
Manheim Township 0 1 2 0— 3
La Salle Scoring: Derek Bogorowski 2, Westy Hopkins 2, Pat Resch, Kevin Forster, Nick Cruice, Peter Schwartz, Randy Forster, Tucker Durkin.
Manheim Township Scoring: Conner DuBois, Dan Wertz, R. Wertz.
La Salle College Assists: Kevin Forster 2, Peter Schwartz 2, Rrandy Forster 2.
Manheim Township Assists: Conner DuBois.
Shots: LS 27; MT 17.
Saves: LS—Niko Amato 4; MT—Brian Heckert 9.
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