By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/18/23
STATE COLLEGE – Senior Ryan Gorman scored on a diving and twisting shot at the crease with 2 seconds left to give Marple Newtown a stunning 11-10 victory over Mars in the PIAA Class 2A championship game Saturday at Penn State University’s Panzer Field.
Gorman’s heroics gave the Tigers (20-5) their first state title and revenge after falling to the Fightin’ Planets (22-3) in the 2022 championship game, 9-6, at West Chester East. And it wasn’t easy as Marple had to claw back from a five-goal first-period deficit.
Gorman began his winning dodge with about 5 seconds left and deftly avoided landing in the crease by diving slightly away from the goal.
“I saw we had about five seconds left when I went,” said Gorman, “I saw the defender – he didn’t slide so I put it into my left and went under. It was the only option I had. I had to go to the side so I wouldn’t land in the crease and I put it where I thought it could go in. I got a little lucky.
“I’m speechless. I had a little bit of a rough season and I was hard on myself. I wanted to pick it up and I came into this game knowing we wanted to be the first (Marple Newtown) team to do it. We had a strong senior class and nobody believed we could get back here.”
Mars – making its third straight appearance in the 2A title game – scored the game’s first five goals and led, 6-1, after one period. But the Tigers began dominating possessions behind the faceoff work of Alex Chambers (17 of 24) and pulled within 8-7 at the half.
Marple Newtown forged its first tie when freshman Jace Kostack (two goals) scored with 2:36 to play, making it 10-10. Until then, the Tigers had gotten within one goal on five occasions.
Junior Enzo Grieco, a Penn State recruit, opened the game with a natural hat trick and finished with five goals and an assist for Mars, but had few shots after the opening period against the stingy Marple Newtown defense. The unit of Dave Bertoline, Colin Wolk, Jake McGowan, Tyler Hannan, Alex Gillan, Brett Wolski, John Daddario and James Kirby, and Chase Egan held Mars scoreless in the final quarter to allow for the comeback.
“It’s an inexplicable and unreal feeling,” said Bertoline. “They (the Planets) are a good team. They put it to us in the first quarter. We just had to come from within and play with heart and play with effort.
“When you do that anything can happen. Merch (Tigers coach Kevin Merchant) always harps on being unselfish. That’s what got us here. In the beginning of the game, we weren’t unselfish and that put us behind. We had to bring that unselfishness out, and it showed ”
Bertoline said the defense focused on Grieco even more after the first period, faceguarding him the rest of the way: “He’s a good player, he deserves a lot of respect so we had to faceguard him.”
Wolk had half of the duties of faceguarding Grieco. “Going into it, we knew he (Grieco) was good,” Wolk said. “We knew he was a threat and that we had to lock him down if he got out of control and it did the job. This is a great feeling, especially after losing last year.”
Sophomore Brian Box added two goals and an assist while Gorman and Ryan Keating each added two goals. Joey Yukenavitch added a goal and two assists as the Tigers got goals from seven different players.
“Once we regrouped after the first quarter, our mentality changed and our energy was unbelievable,” Box said. “We came together as a group and we never looked back. This is probably the greatest experience of my life. Ryan scored a huge goal at the end and everyone stepped up in a big way.”
Merchant was doused with a Gatorade shower just before the medal ceremony as the Marple Newtown fans basked along with the players. Marple Newtown failed to win the District 1 title this year, but bounced back in states to defeat champion West Chester Rustin Tuesday to get the return ticket.
“I think its telling of our season,” said Merchant of the ebb and flow of the game. “We had runs where we were good and runs where we were inconsistent, but we always continued to work hard and I think today capsulated our season as a whole.
“I have all the faith in our kids for their their work ethic and discipline. It’s a great feeling – it’s great coaching these guys every day.”
What did Merchant say at the first-period break with his team down 6-1?
“I just asked them if their (nervousness) was out and everyone said, ‘Yes.’ That’s when we took off!”
PIAA Class AA Championship
Marple Newtown 11, Mars 10
Mn – 1-6-1-3- 11
Mars – 6-2-2-0-10
Brian Box – 2G 1A
Ryan Gorman – 2G ( Game winner with .02 left)
Rob Wagner – 1G
Ryan Keating – 2G
Jace Kostack – 2G
Joey Yukenavitch – 1G 2A
Evan Kostack – 1G 1A
Alex Chambers – 17/24 F/O
Marco Dalicandro – 6 Saves
Enzo Grieco 5g, 1a
Ben Bowser 2g, 1a
Tim Edinger 1g
Ben Bowser 2g, 1a
Jack Dunham 1a
Dylan Phillips 1a
Kyle McEwen 2a
Jonathan Grieco 5 saves
PIAA Class AA Champions
2017 Class AA – Springfield-Delco 9, Henderson 8
2018 Class AA – Bishop Shanahan 13, Strath Haven 5
2019 Class AA – Bishop Shanahan 12, Hershey 3
2020 Class AA – No season due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021 Class AA – Allentown Central Catholic 14, Mars 5
2022 Class AA – Mars 9, Marple Newtown 6
2023 Class AA – Marple Newtown 11, Mars 10
2023 Class AAA – Radnor 8, Springfield-Delco 1