Boys lacrosse falls in league final
Spirits were certainly low after the way Central Catholic defeated Parkland in Monday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference boys lacrosse championship. But all is not lost if you ask Trojan head coach Brad Schifko.
Just as Parkland seemed to take control of the game in the third quarter, Central had an answer. The top-seeded Vikings (19-1 overall; 12-1 EPC), after trailing 10-7 in the third, scored six of the next seven goals to secure their first EPC championship in school history with a 13-12 win at Northampton High School.
“We’re going to take some time to regroup,” Schifko said. “Give all of the credit to Central; they were well prepared and had a tremendous season. Unfortunately, we came out on the short end.
“At the end of the day they made more plays in bigger spots than we did tonight. That’s what it boils down to. It doesn’t make us an inferior team.”
For Schifko, there is still a chance for his Trojans (18-2 overall; 12-1 in EPC) to win their first district crown in program history. They won Lehigh Valley Conference titles in 2013 and 2014 but are still searching for their first district title and head into this year’s tournament as the top seed in Class 3A. This is the first year the district field is split into two classes.
“We still have an opportunity to do something we’ve never done in program history, and that’s win a district championship and play in the state tournament,” Schifko said. “There are lots of things to look forward to. Hopefully this will allow us to go back to the drawing board and do things a little bit differently.”
Trailing by two goals heading into halftime, Schifko and the Trojans understood that in order to mount a comeback, Parkland must improve in the faceoff. They did that in the third quarter.
Senior Gavin Saylor first set up Ian O’Neill to get the Trojans within 7-6. Luke Summers and Dru Miller scored goals just 11 seconds apart to give Parkland its first lead since early in the first period.
That advantage was pushed to 9-7 on James Cipolla’s rip into the back of the net with 5:49 to play in the third, and Cipolla then made it 10-7 a little more than two minutes later.
“Andrew [Albertson] did a tremendous job for us at the faceoff X, and he’s had a tremendous season,” Schifko said. “Coming in, one of the first things I said was we’re going to have to win the battle at the faceoff X to be in the game and keep the possessions away from Central’s dynamic offense.”
Central Catholic, however, wouldn’t go away without a fight. The Vikings scored three straight goals in the final two minutes to tie the game at 10-10. Parkland would retake the lead briefly on a Summers goal with nine seconds remaining in the third.
Matthew Marker got Central Catholic’s impressive fourth quarter started with a goal 20 seconds into play. Then Joe Wolf scored the go-ahead goal with 7:42 to play, and assisted on the next Viking goal to push Central’s lead to 13-11.
Parkland had one last-second shot at a game-tying goal, but a Trojan shot was saved by goalie Larry Keba.
“There were some unsettled situations and some transition opportunities for them,” Schifko said. “We did some things uncharacteristic of our defense toward the end of the game. We were sliding stick and not sliding body.
“We were just doing some things that you can’t do against dynamic players like they have. We’ll learn from it and move forward.”
Parkland’s run at a district crown will start Tuesday. The Trojans will have a bye through Thursday’s quarterfinals before facing the winner of the No. 4 Easton vs. No. 5 Freedom game in a semifinal match up Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lehigh University.