By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/3/17
Many would have said that David slayed Goliath today when Central Bucks East toppled La Salle, 8-6, in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals at Methacton High.
But not CB East sophomore goalie Liam Rosenthal.
“We just beat a really good team, but we have a really good team,” he said. “To everyone that doubted us – we didn’t listen to them. We are on our own path.”
That path has led the Suburban One National Conference champion Patriots into the PIAA semifinals for the first time ever. East (18-5) will play Avon Grove, a 10-5 winner over Garnet Valley in the second game at Methacton. That game will be held Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
The Pats’ stunning win featured a 7-1 run that erased an easy 3-1 La Salle (21-2) lead, clutch goaltending by the diminutive Rosenthal (11 saves) and a suffocating defense that held the No. 1 ranked Explorers to one goal for an amazing stretch of almost three periods. Also Michael Ott neutralized La Salle All-American face-off specialsit, winning 7 of 16 draws.
“We stunned everyone,” said Rosenthal. “Underdog? Nope! That’s not what we thought. We did what we do in practice every day; it is routine for us. We play that way.”
East’s defense of Bryan McIntosh, Joe Thiroway and Drew Bethke, LSMs John Galow and Conor Larkin and defensive middies Jake Ventresca and Collin Stein was physical and consistent in keeping La Salle’s attack off balance.
“Going into this game we were major underdogs,” said McIntosh (3GBs, 2 CTs), who had the task of playing All-American attackman Brett Baskin. “They had everything to lose and we thought we were as athletic as them.
“We felt everything they did came through Baskin. I tried to force him to his left. When he is out of the game, their offense comes down to a different level.”
Ryan Brown led the Pats with three goals while Ryan Bullotta and Alec Bracken scored twice. Brant Billingsly had the eight goal, which made it 8-4 with 8:31 to play. La Salle scored two in the next 3 minutes, but could not convert over the final four minutes of play.
“We practiced all week situational for what we were going to experience today,” said East coach Bruce Garcia. “Everything we thought we were going to get, we did. Obviously, they are a well-coached team – no ifs, and or buts. They have been here before, but we have played some of the best teams in the state and we felt we belonged here.
“Whether we win from this point on, we don’t know, but we are sure as heck going to try.”
La Salle had taken a 3-1 lead on goals by Chris Mockaitis, Chris Hladczuk (three tallies) and Baskin. But Bracken scored his second to make it 3-2 early in the second period and Bullotta tied it before the half while Rosenthal kept his team even.
Bullotta and Brown made it 5-3 and after Hladczuk scored, Brown tallied again to make it 6-4 after three periods. Brown and Billingsly made it 8-4 in the fourth.
For Thiroway, the win had even more meaning – his grandmother passed away this morning.
“I played for her,” he said. “She is up there and the reason I played well and that we won.
“I am so happy for our team. It was a team win. All the pressure was one them. We feel like we are capable of beating anyone on any given day.”
Hladczuk offered no excuses
“I just think we weren’t moving the ball through X and we weren’t playing unselfish lacrosse like we played all year,” he said. “We had trouble in all facets; they beat us in all facets. Our defense locked down, but our offense didn’t take singles, didn’t move the ball through X and didn’t move the ball quickly. That’s the bottom line.
“These are my 40 bothers, they are my family. We started working out in the fall shooting, lifting to old school rock. This is the worst feeling in lacrosse I’ve had in my whole life. I am going to watch the film and learn from it.”
CENTRAL BUCKS EAST 1 – 2 – 3 -2 – 8
LA SALLE 3 – 0 – 1 – 2 – 6
Ryan Brown 3G, 1 GB
Ryan Bullotta 2G
Alec Bracken 2G, 1A
Brant Billingsley 1G, 1A
Ryan Stout 1A
Michael Ott 1A
Bryan McIntosh 1A
Michael Ott 7 of 16 FO, 2 GB
Liam Rosenthal 11 saves, 1 GB
Bryan McIntosh 3GB, 2 CT
Ryan Schmidt 2GB
Joe Thiroway 1GB, 1 CT
John Galow 1GB, 2 CT
Jake Ventresca 1GB
Chris Hladczuk 3g, 1a
Brett Baskin 1g, 1a
Joey Talor 1a
Chris Mockaitis 1g
Ethan LaMond 1g
Anthony Giuliani 9 of 16 FO
Mike Clibanoff 6 saves