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Marple Newtown ‘Boxes’ first District 1 championship, edges Penncrest, 10-9, for Class AA crown

Friday, 27th May 2022

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  

By Matthew Ryan, Posted 5/27/22

On the biggest stage of the season Thursday, where experience usually matters most, it was one of the most inexperienced players on the field that was the difference-maker.

Brian Box

In the District 1 2A championship game at Ridley High School, 15-year-old freshman attack Brian Box scored five goals for No. 3 seed Marple Newtown as the Tigers beat top-seeded Penncrest, 10-9, to capture their first-ever district title.

“Not surprising at all,” Marple Newtown head coach Kevin Merchant said of Box’s performance. “Brian stepped in from the first day he came out in the offseason.”

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” older brother Charlie Box (senior midfielder) said of his younger brother. “I mean, I’ve been seeing him do it since he was like five years old. He’s one of the best freshmen in the country, if not the best.

“He’s awesome. I can’t wait to see what he does for the rest of his career. We’re not done yet.”

Brian Box’s play was at its best in the second half, when he scored four goals, each more crucial than the last for the Lions.

After back-to-back goals by junior attack Jason Poole tied the game at five in the third quarter, sophomore attack Joey Yukenevitch gave Marple the lead before Brian Box’s goal extended it to 7-5.

District 1 AA champion Marple Newtown

In the fourth quarter, Poole scored his fourth and final goal to cut Marple’s lead to one, but brian Box responded again to give the Tigers an 8-6 lead. Minutes later, junior attack/midfielder Dylan McDougall brought Penncrest within one, but then Box delivered the final blow, scoring back-to-back goals to put Marple up 10-7 with just 3:18 remaining.

“It felt great. It just happened. Step up in a big moment,” Brian Box said. “Great overall game by everyone. We worked hard to get here, so it’s just awesome.”

“I needed to take over. I mean, teammates were dishing it to me, I was just finishing the ball.”

The Lions responded with two goals late in the fourth to make it 10-9, but a missed shot in the closing seconds ended their comeback bid.

Joining Brian Box with multiple goals were his brother Charlie (committed to Cornell) and senior attack Damien Bogsch (2 goals). Senior goalie Jack Welsh posted 12 saves, seven coming in the second half.

The Tigers will face District 2 runner-up Crestwood Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA tourney.

Since this senior class arrived at Marple, there has been a climb to the top of the district, with improvements each year. Their freshman year, they lost in the first round. As sophomores, there was no season due to the pandemic. Last year, they lost in the semi-finals. Now, in their final season, they made it to the top.

Charlie Box

“It’s pretty special, this group of guys,” Charlie Box said. “It’s just so fun to come out here and win a district chip for Marple.

“It means so much to the seniors. I know we’ve been working since freshman year. I think it just means a lot to get here and actually win it for the first time for our program, and just set the standard for the rest of the years to come.”

Penncrest was led by Poole, McDougall (2 goals) and junior midfielder Brannan Kaut (2) on the offensive end, while junior goalie Luke Pyle-Ballak finished with nine saves.

The Lions will face District 3 third-place finisher Trinity in the first round of the PIAA tourney Tuesday.

“Marple’s a great team, and they came out, and they were firing right out of the gates, and we knew we had our hands full with the Box boys,” Penncrest head coach Wayne Matsinger said. “It’s always a challenge.

“We have to get better. The competition’s going to be like this every single game, and you’ve got to find a way to pull it out at the end.”

Marple Newtown 10, Penncrest 9

Marple Newtown 3-2-2-3 — 10
Penncrest 2-1-2-4 — 9

Marple Newtown:
Brian Box — 5g
Charlie Box — 2g
Damien Bogsch — 2g
Joey Yukenevitch — 1g
Jack Welsh — 12 saves
Alex Chambers — 11 FO wins

Jason Poole — 4g
Brennan Kaut — 2g
Dylan McDougall — 2g
Steven Woolery — 1g
Luke Pyle-Ballak — 9 saves
Andrew Wickman — 13 FO wins

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