By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/3/17
It’s never a great surprise to see Jeff Conner garnering a ton of defensive attention from defenses.
When you’ve got back-to-back 100-point seasons, including more than 130 this year, you’re going to draw attention. West Chester Henderson’s defense had the added bonus of seeing the Virginia commit twice earlier this year, so the Warriors knew that if they could contain Conner and his superb ability to elevate his teammates’ games, they’d have a good chance of beating the Panthers in Saturday’s teams’ PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at West Chester East.
Consider it handled. Ryan Mitchell led a strong defensive effort from the Warriors’ back end and Luke Wiernan won 15 of 19 faceoffs as Henderson downed the Panthers, 9-6, to earn a spot in Tuesday’s semifinals. The Warriors will take on Mars, a 15-14 double overtime winner over Hershey, at a place and time to be determined.
“I think we all played good team defense and keeping our sticks up is one of the best things we can do,” Mitchell said. “I practice it a lot at my club team, Fusion, and we do it a lot at Henderson practice. I think keeping your stick up is one of the best ways to play defense.
“(Conner) is one of the better kids in the area and he can feed the ball and shoot from anywhere, so our main target was to take him out of the play and make their other players beat us. They have a strong team, but I think we just outplayed them.”
There was little doubt about it. The Panthers held a 3-2 edge after one quarter when Conner scored twice and Will Huestis (two assists) also scored, but that was just the start. Wierman’s big day helped the Warriors maintain possession all day – his goal to start the second half didn’t hurt, either – and Henderson’s offensive patience paid off in spades.
The Warriors got goals from seven different players, led by two goals and two helpers from Dylan Teeter and two goals and an assist from Nick Mascetti.
“Faceoffs and defense are really our game, and when Wierman is controlling the ball, our offense gets just enough to put in some goals and get the win,” Mascetti said. “We really started running the fast break more. I think we had two or three fast-break goals. Right when we started getting our legs moving a little bit, we started taking advantage of the fast breaks.”
Conner and Chris Rosini each had two goals for Strath Haven, while Vincey Palermo was strong in goal with 11 saves. Despite that, simple mistakes doomed the Panthers’ hopes at a state title.
“You can separate sports into a couple of different things,” Strath Haven coach Jef Hewlings said. “In lacrosse, it’s catching and throwing and getting ground balls. You saw how many times we had opportunities and we didn’t catch the ball.
“You’re not going to beat Henderson that way. Their game plan was to push us around and see if we could respond, and we didn’t really respond that well.”
Strath Haven 3 0 0 3 – 6
Jeff Conner 2g
Chris Rosini 2g
Will Huestis 1g, 2a
Tyler Fink 1g
Liam Carney 1a
Vincey Palermo 11 saves
West Chester Henderson 2 4 2 1 – 9
Dylan Teeter 2g, 2a
Nick Mascetti 2g, 1a
Luke Wierman 1g, 15-for-19 faceoffs
Brandon Moyer 1g
Archer Rymiszewski 1g
Joe Saulino 1g
Matt Turse 1g
Mike Rizzo 1a
Kyle Dampman 6 saves