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PIAA boys’ championship preview: St. Joseph’s Prep looks to unseat defending champions in first state final appearance

Friday, 10th June 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Chris Goldberg, Posted 6/10/11

St. Joseph’s Prep boys’ lacrosse coach Eric Gregg said his Hawks will not be awed when they step on the field at HersheyPark Stadium Saturday to meet defending state champion Conestoga in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) title game.

“Our boys feel very confident in their own ability,” said Gregg of the 3 p.m. contest. “We don’t fear anybody. We respect our opponent, but we will come to play our hardest.”

St. Joseph’s Prep will go uinto the game as an underdog in most people’s eyes. Conestoga, the three-time District 1 champion, is 24-1 and ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPreps and LaxPower and No. 3 by ESPN RISE. The Pioneers also were ranked No. 7 by Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse at the close of the regular season.

But the Hawks (19-4), ranked No. 33 by ESPN RISE, played Conestoga even for nearly the entire game when the two clubs met in the season opener. In that contest, Conestoga pulled away at the end for a 12-9 victory.

The Hawks won their first District 12 title and are making their first appearance in the PIAA tourney (in its third year). The Prep never played for a state title in the old Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association tourney while Conestoga is playing in the state finals for third straight year.

Still, Gregg feels he is not the underdog.

“We are very excited for this opportunity,” Gregg said. “We feel disrespected. We’ve beaten top teams and we set a goal to go out and make the state championship and to go and win it.”

Gregg also is confident his team can play with Conestoga even in a transition game. The Pioneers are known for their fast-tempo attack and depth, but the Hawks also have shown
the ability to strike fast as they did in their thrilling 11-10 come-from-behind win over Manheim Township in the quarterfinals.

St. Joe’s Prep advanced to the finals by handling District 7 champ Mt. Lebanon, 15-5.

“I think one of our biggest strengths is our transition game and depth,” Gregg said. “We may not be as deep as they are, but we will need to counter that with intensity and be mentally prepared.

“Any time you meet an opponent with that ability, you have to have the confidence to match it and that’s what we plan on doing.”



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