‘Today we knocked the door in’: Allentown Central Catholic lacrosse team rolls to historic state championship with win over Mars
By Michael Blouse
For The Morning Call|
Jun 12, at PM
Central Catholic stars of teams past and present gathered around the PIAA state championship trophy on a sun-splashed Saturday in West Chester.
They took pictures together. They hugged each other. They celebrated.
Coach Dan Dolphin’s Vikings accomplished something this season that no other Central Catholic team had ever accomplished.
They did what no other District 11 team ever did.
Allentown Central Catholic secured the Pennsylvania’s Class 2A lacrosse crown with a dominant win over District 7 champion Mars at West Chester East’s Harold I. Zimmerman Stadium.
“We’ve knocked on the door a lot of times,” Dolphin said. “Today we knocked the door in.”
Dolphin’s Vikings overmatched yet another state playoff opponent, using an run that spanned the first and second periods to pull away from an unbeaten Mars team. Central Catholic, which ends its three-championship season with a overall record, outscored its four PIAA victims by a combined
“It means the world to me,” said senior captain Jack McGorry, who scored three goals.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about ever since I started to play lacrosse. I think we worked so hard for this goal and now we’ve accomplished it. This feels amazing.”
“We’re the first team in Lehigh Valley history to make it this far, let alone win the state championship,” said another senior captain, Tyler Schifko. “We have our names written in history forever. There’s no better feeling, especially in our senior year, to end it with a win.”
McGorry and juniors Chuck Kuczynski and Ben Scandone scored three goals apiece to propel the Vikings, who trailed Mars midway through the first quarter.
Central Catholic opened a lead after one then caught fire in the second period, scoring six goals in a five-minute stretch.
McGorry got it going when he worked hard to create some space and fire a low shot past Mars senior goalie Jacob Gareis. Then the goals came fast and furious.
Kuczynski’s second long-pole goal came when he scooped up a ground ball, sprinted into the offensive zone and fired a high shot into the netting. McGorry’s second tally came 33 seconds later as he was falling to the turf. And Schifko’s first of two for the game capped that six-goal spurt.
It was a momentum-changing and championship-clinching five minutes of action.
“A lot of it was transition,” said Dolphin, whose win was the st and biggest of his year coaching career.
“I mean we were just running up and down the field, and our team has great overall speed. When we get into that man-up situation that’s tough for any team to stop. We were able to capitalize on those. The kids were shooting lights-out, too. In that second quarter, everything was going into the net.”
Kuczynski, who Dolphin called the best defensive player he’s ever coached, provided rare key contributions on offense. Kuczynski entered with four goals this season.
His scoring complemented the usual offensive standouts — McGorry, Schifko, Scandone and Co.
“I haven’t scored that many since eighth-grade youth lacrosse. It’s an amazing feeling,” Kuczynski said.
Defensively, Central Catholic put the clamps on a Fightin’ Planets offense that entered averaging 18 goals per game. They controlled junior Wes Scurci, who this week was named the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s player of the year. Scurci scored both of his goals in the second half. He entered with
Kuczynski and defensive teammates Mason Maxsim, Diego Colon and Aiden Carroll played well in front of senior goalie Davis Ike.
Ike, especially early on, was key to keeping Central Catholic in close contact with Mars, the WPIAL power that was also making its first state final appearance. He was credited with 13 saves.
“I knew they were getting a lot of shots,” Ike said, “but they were shots I could get eyes on and stop. Once the guys started to get comfortable in front of me, it was over.”
Central Catholic also controlled play at the X. Senior Derek Lystad won eight of the 12 face-offs contested in the opening half.
Mars coach Bob Marcoux was very complimentary of the Vikings. The Fightin’ Planets end their season with a record.
“They were about what we expected,” he said. “We saw them on film and we knew they were really, really good. We knew they had no weaknesses.
“I think we did a pretty good job of stopping their big guns, but they had a bunch of other guys who stepped up and played really well. Their goalie was tremendous, their face-off guy was tremendous and they were very good in every single phase of the game,” Marcoux said.
Saturday’s performance capped an amazing postseason run for the Vikings. They went in the EPC playoffs, in the District 11 postseason and in the state tournament.
Central Catholic pulled off the extremely rare championship trifecta.
“We peaked at exactly the right time. The kids were so focused, it was laser-like with these kids,” Dolphin said. “All we had to do was give them a couple of guidelines and after that it was all up to them. They did a tremendous job.”
“The best ending,” Schifko said, “you could ever imagine — state champs.”
Michael Blouse is a freelancer for The Morning Call.
PIAA LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIPS
CENTRAL CATHOLIC 14, MARS 5
Mars: Goals: Nick Crowley 2, Wes Scurci 2, Austin Cote. Assists: Jack Dunham. Shots: Saves: Jacob Gareis 9.
ACC: Goals: Jack McGorry 3, Chuck Kuczynski 3, Ben Scandone 3, Tyler Schifko 2, Nick Pomajevich, Sean Farrell, Matt Odenthal. Assists: Scandone, Schifko, Farrell, Augie Barr, Liam Drake. Shots: Saves: Davis Ike
PIAA Class 3A Boys Lacrosse: Extraordinary Radnor defense paves way for state title
WEST GOSHEN – Grant Pierce had a little time to mull things over Saturday, as the Radnor defenseman exited the field in the PIAA Class 3A championship game with seconds to play.
He was the last of Radnor’s indefatigable defensive unit to make way, to raucous applause, with a victory over Kennett and a state title well in hand. And from that vantage point, Pierce had a chance to assess just what he and his Radnor mates had accomplished, particularly on the defensive end.
“If I were to use one word, I would say extraordinary,” Pierce said. “I couldn’t have found a better group of guys who wanted to go to work every day and put in the hours and get better and better at the craft and keep on working every day to get more and more involved, learning the game more and more and pushing it to the limits. They just never gave up, and I couldn’t thank them enough.”
Radnor players storm the field after defeating Kennett, , in the PIAA Class 3A championship game Saturday. (Nate Heckenberger/For MediaNews Group)
The final chapter was just as exemplary as so many others for the District 1 third-place team. For the season, Radnor () allowed just 99 goals, a microscopic average of fewer than four per game, on the way to the Central League title and the program’s second state crown (). Twice in the last 16 days, it has thumped Kennett, which won 20 games and assembled easily the best season in program history laden with Division I talent, by a combined score of
It’s a level of stinginess that boggles the mind, and certainly boggled Kennett () at W.C. East High.
“I would say we’re special,” defender Will Gallagher said. “We love playing together. We trust each other, play as one and get it done.”
Saturday, that meant pitching a second-half shutout. It took until two minutes to play for Kennett to even have a second-half shot on the goal of Robert Hobbs, who made six saves. But the defensive unit in front of what Pierce called their “security blanket” didn’t require it much.
As they’ve been all season, they were smart in their physicality, committing only one penalty. They were constantly in the hands of Kennett shooters, a half-dozen times checking the stick mid-shot to lead to wildly errant attempts. And they were outstanding on the ground to nullify Kennett faceoff man Richie Hughson winning 10 of 15 draws.
Part of what makes the defensive unit special is how deep they roll. Pierce, Gallagher, Casey Ott, Thomas Barton, Luciano Chadha, Reece Evans and Carson Smith constitute a ridiculous abundance of riches. For a team to have a replacement pole for man-down situations with one in the box is a luxury; to have seven poles rotate with virtually no drop-off is outrageous, with Central League player of the year Pierce leading the way.
Add in a Division I goalie in Hobbs and dogged defensive middies Mark McKeon, who had an assist, and Peter Vitale, and you have a fortress.
“They (Kennett) are a really good team, obviously, to make it this far. They have a lot of good guys,” Gallagher said. “But I think our biggest thing is we just trust each other, we play as a seven-man unit, like we’ve talked about all year. And we trust our coaches and just play together.”
“We know we just have to play well enough because they’re always going to have our back,” attackman Ryan Goldstein said. “We can make mistakes, and we’ll get the ball back most of the time.”
Radnors Jack Murphy celebrates a goal against Kennett. (Nate Heckenberger/For MediaNews Group)
Goldstein far exceeded the “well enough” threshold. The Cornell signee was dominant from the opening whistle, amassing two goals and five assists. He set up Damien Ramondo in, then found Colin French for his second first-quarter goal and Drew Cox a minute apart to stake Radnor to a lead.
Before the half was over, he set up Ramondo again and then went on his own, lowering his shoulder and potting a shot over goalie Jason Astle to make it at half.
“When Ryan gets going, it kind of gets me going,” Ramondo said. “And once us two are going, everything starts clicking. And after that, everyone’s percent and we’re all moving the ball well. He just starts it up like that.”
“We had a lot of one-on-ones and I thought we were good,” Kennett defender Vincent Cresci said. “I think we matched their athletes. But they had a lot of off-ball movement, and our IQ just needed to be there.”
Kennett mounted a charge between the first and second quarters, but it was short-lived. Zach Hulme got them on the board with a top-corner rip at of the first, and Hobbs supplied two key saves to keep it from getting closer, including a point-blank Hulme denial on a quick change of fields in transition after a clean Hughson draw win. Buzzy Hertz then scored at of the second to make it
But that would be it for the Blue Demons, Radnor turning the third quarter into a scrappy groundball tussle, before Goldstein found Jack Murphy for a step-down, man-up rocket at to make it
When Goldstein roofed one eight seconds into the fourth, again on the man advantage, the game was well and truly over.
Add it all up and it was Radnor’s most complete performance of the year. But for Pierce, it’s more than just that, or this year for that matter. The post-game celebration included a chant of “Peter Samson,” for the late youth lacrosse coach and massive figure in the Radnor lacrosse community. And Pierce’s mind quickly went to the seniors from denied the chance to pursue what the current group attained.
“It’s amazing,” Pierce said. “The feeling right now, after we won, it’s so surreal. I have to thank Cole Schwartz and Jackson Birtwistle and the class of They sacrificed so much for us and they didn’t get to play their senior year, and thank God we figured out a way to get a full schedule and get full state playoffs. Because this was the greatest year of my life and this is the greatest day of my life so far, and I can’t thank the Radnor community enough and that class of that sacrificed everything for our class.”
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PIAA boys' lacrosse: Schedule, results from the state championships
Boys' lacrosse teams from across the state start chasing gold today as the PIAA tournaments open.
Check back for results and updates.
Tuesday, June 1
() Wissahickon 10, () LaSalle 9
() Kennett 15, () Hempfield 10
() St. Joseph's Prep 8, () Emmaus 7
() Garnet Valley 12, () Cumberland Valley 2
() Wilson 12, () Shady Side Academy 6
() Radnor 13, () Central York 5
() Conestoga 9, () Springfield 3
() North Allegheny 16, () McDowell 2
Saturday, June 5
() Kennett 11, () Wissahickon 8
() Garnet Valley 12, () St. Joseph's Prep 9
() Radnor 15, () Wilson 3
() Conestoga 8, () North Allegheny 3
Tuesday, June 8
() Kennett 11, () Garnet Valley 10 (2 OT)
() Radnor 13, () Conestoga 5
Saturday, June 12
() Radnor 10, () Kennett 2
PIAA 3A Boys Lacrosse Champion: Radnor
More:Coast to coast: An entire season with Council Rock North boys lacrosse
More:PIAA girls' lacrosse: Schedule, results from the state championships
More:PIAA boys' volleyball: Schedule, results, updates for the state tournaments
Tuesday, June 1
() Penncrest 14, () Wyoming Seminary 2
() Allentown Central Catholic 20, () Devon Prep 4
() Crestwood 17, () Lewisburg 5
() Susquehannock 18, () Lansdale Catholic 10
() Bishop Shanahan 16, () Lampeter-Strasburg 8
() Chartiers Valley 10, () Cathedral Prep 9
() Trinity 23, () South Fayette 7
() Mars 12, () Hershey 0
Saturday, June 5
() Allentown Central Catholic 15, () Penncrest 3
() Crestwood 12, () Susquehannock 11
() Bishop Shanahan 16, () Chartiers Valley 4
Mars 14, Trinity 9
Tuesday, June 8
() Allentown Central Catholic 16, () Crestwood 6
() Mars 10, () Bishop Shananhan 3
Saturday, June 12
() Allentown Central Catholic 14, () Mars 5
PIAA 2A Boys Lacrosse Champion: Allentown Central Catholic
View CommentsSours: https://www.ydr.com/story/sports/high-school//06/01/piaa-lacrosseschedule-resultsaa-boys-tournaments//
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