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.@LaSalle_Sports defense stifles @Stoga_Lax, 8-3, in battle of top-ranked teams

Wednesday, 28th March 2018

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Matt Chandik, Posted 3/28/18

For the second consecutive year, it was a nonleague game billed as a battle between two of the PIAA Class AAA contenders. For the second year in a row, La Salle was clearly a cut above Conestoga.

The host Explorers (ranked No. 3 by got two goals and an assist from Ethan Masucci, two goals from Matthew Clibanoff and a staunch defensive effort in front of goalie Michael Clibanoff (10 saves) in an 8-3 rout of the visiting Pioneers (No. 5).

La Salle’s Brendan Meagher (left) celebrates a goal with Danny Mallee (Photo by Matt Chandik)

The group of Dan Jordon, Joey Burnham, Brett Mallee and Bob Bohner made life miserable for a Conestoga offense that’s still coming together. It’s a savvy, veteran group, and it’s going to be bad news for anyone who challenges the Explorers this year.

“We only lost one D-mid and one close defenseman, and with Bob stepping up and playing really well, all the kids are just stepping up and showing leadership,” Burnham said. “When that happens, (La Salle defensive coordinator) Coach (Tony) Resch is able to teach us a little bit more and build on what we already know because he doesn’t have to get into basics.”

Conestoga (0-3) also struggled to hang on to the ball without La Salle’s pressure, an early-season hiccup for a team replacing the bulk of its attack.

“I just think our fundamentals weren’t doing too well today,” said Conestoga’s Will Schnorr, who scored a pair of first-quarter goals. “We really killed ourselves on offense.

“Our defense was holding them for long possessions, then we’d get it down at the other end and just turn it over. Ultimately, I think that killed us.”

The Pioneers – who dropped their first two games to MIAA powers Calvert Hall (11-6) and Boys’ Latin (10-9 in OT) – will be just fine down the stretch, particularly if James Reilly keeps getting them the ball. The senior was a perfect 13-for-13 at the faceoff X against a combination of Explorers, and he’s considered one of the best in the state. As a seasoned veteran, Reilly also knows that the tough non-league slate will only help Conestoga, last year’s PIAA Class AAA runner-up.

“Two of them, we really wish we had back, but playing good competition at the beginning of the season will really prepare us for later on,” Reilly said. “It’s always better to lose games in March than in April, May and June when it really counts.”

Conestoga’s Will Schnorr is defended by Joe Burnham (Photo by Rene Schleicher)

This one didn’t count in the league standings, but it sure did in the bragging rights department. La Salle extended its winning streak in the series to four, including last year’s 12-5 win, and it showed why the Explorers are again a PIAA AAA favorite.

La Salle also got solo tallies from Brendan Meagher, Ethan LaMond, Chris Mockaitis and Grant Pinto. A balanced offense, a lights-out defense and a strong goalie is a combination that usually means you’re playing in June.

“The whole team just kind of stepped up and we were ready to go,” LSM Jordon said.

There’s a good chance they’ll be ready all season.

La Salle 8, Conestoga 3

Conestoga 2 0 1 0 – 3
La Salle 2 3 1 2 – 8

Will Schnorr 2g
Chris Cara 1g
Joey Walton 1a
James Reilly 13-for-13 faceoffs
PJ Hewitt 1-for-2 faceoffs
Scott MacMillan 9 saves

La Salle
Ethan Masucci 2g, 1a
Matthew Clibanoff 2g
Brendan Meagher 1g
Ethan LaMond 1g
Chris Mockaitis 1g
Grant Pinto 1g
Sean Duffy 1a
Michael Clibanoff 10 saves

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