By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/6/17
Zach Augustine and Scooter Whiteside each scored two goals and Avon Grove defeated Central Bucks East, 7-5, today at Methacton to advance to the PIAA Class AAA championship.
The Devils (22-2) will play Conestoga (22-3) Saturday in the championship game at West Chester East at 4 p.m. Conestoga, which advanced with a 13-3 win over Mt. Lebanon, toppled Avon Grove just two weeks ago in the District 1 finals, 14-12.
Avon Grove had already beaten CB East twice before this year – 8-3 in the regular season and 10-9 in the District 1 semifinals.
The Devils never trailed and broke open a 2-2 game with three unanswered goals by Augustine, Whiteside and defenseman Bryce DeMuth as they capitalized on several key CB East (18-6) turnovers.
Joey Borcky had a goal and three assists for Avon Grove and Nate Hammond won 9 of 16 face-offs. Ryan Bullotta had two goals and an assist for East and Ryan Brown added a goal and an assist.
The Devils led, 7-4, after three periods and after Michael Ott scored to make it 7-5, Avon Grove’s defense was stellar.
“Last time we played them we saw they never kept fighting and we were watching the La Salle game (an 8-6 win in the quarterfinals) and saw they could control the pace and hod them down,” said Devils senior defenseman Muller. “We knew it would be a slow played game.”
Augustine said his team needed to remain smart and patient.
“We saw film on them and we played them twice; we knew they run a zone sometimes and a man sometimes,” he said “he biggest thing for us, coach said, was to be patient. We can’t turn the ball over; we wanted to play our game but be patient.”
CB East junior Ott, who also battled standout Hammond at the X by winning five of the second-half faceoffs, said his team was heartbroken but proud of a season that featured a Suburban One National Conference title and the school’s best finish in PIAA play.
“As a team I don’t think we came up with as any groundballs as we needed to,” said Ott. “Those extra possession on loose balls really help and since the score was 7-5 if we had picked up a few more groundballs maybe there would have been a different outcome.”
CB East lost a big opportunity to score late in the third period down 7-4 when it had a two-man advantage for 30 seconds, But the Pats turned the ball over to DeMuth after several passes and did not get a shot.
“It’s difficult when you go down against a very strong athletic team like that,” said Ott. “They really make you pay if you get down in the hole. We just didn’t capitalize (on the two-man up situation) and we have got to be smarter.”
How does Ott reflect on the season?
“I think I am going to look back and be proud of this team,” he said. “We don’t have 10 D1 commits like most teams – we have two and a lot of heart. A lot of teams underestimated us at times us and we proved we can play with the best and I am proud of that.”
Muller said playing Conestoga for the title will be a big challenge.
“That’s going to be a big hurdle,” he said “We played them in the District 1 championship and lost in a close game so we knew we have it in us to win. We just have to play our best lacrosse and hope we come out of it with a ‘W.'”
Avon Grove coach Eric Jackson expected his team would have to play its best to win.
“I think the La Salle score shocked some people but it really didn’t shock me,” said Jackson. “These guys are a very good team and are very wellcoached and those kids come in with a great game pan and never quit.
“This was just a game of survival between two good teams and we’re happy we came out on top. We’re just happy to be together and this is an amazing group of guys with great lesdership. I’m just happy we get to practice together a few more times.”
Avon Grove 7, Central Bucks East 5
Avon Grove 4-2-1-0- 7
Central Bucks East 2-1-1-1- 5
Scooter Whiteside 2g
Zach Augustine 2g
Bryce DeMuth 1g
Doug Jones 1g
Joey Borcky 1g, 3a
Nate Hammon 9 of 16 FO
Kevin Malone 5 saves
Central Bucks East
Ryan Bullotta 2g, 1a
Ryan Brown 1g, 1a
Michael Ott 1g, 1a, 7 of 16 FO
Alec Bracken 1g
Liam Rosenthal 7 saves