NEWTOWN >> For a team trying to replace 18 members of a senior class that powered it to the District 1 playoffs last year, continuity has become a relative term for Marple Newtown.
Every level of the team faces adjustments this spring. But with four familiar faces returning to the first-choice man-up unit, it seems as appropriate a place as any to ease the transition to a new campaign.
Marple delivered four extra-man goals in Saturday’s season opener, pacing a 10-7 nonleague victory over Archbishop Carroll.
With Jake Long, Alex Funk and Alex Viola pulling the strings, that unit didn’t appear to miss a beat. And the speed with which they struck on the power play — three times within the first 20 seconds of minute-long infractions — eventually swung the momentum in a tight game.
“When we get on man-up, we really need to bury the ball,” Long said. “Playing six-on-six against a tough goalie like that, it’s really hard to put the ball in the back of the net. But when we’ve got a man advantage like that, we’ve got to take advantage and get what we can get.”
The game-winning goal came up a man, Funk walking into space on the right side of the cage and rifling a shot home to boost the lead to 8-6. Two minutes later, Long — who like Funk finished with three goals and an assist — fielded a skip pass from Viola on the left wing and padded the lead with a one-timer, again up a man.
Vince Terra finds Mike May for the goal. Marple up 7-6 first minute of the fourth. pic.twitter.com/gqn3Tm5LBg
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) March 25, 2017
The man-up unit has undergone some alterations, absent 100-point man Tyler Kostack and second-leading assist-getter Christian Xitas. But the underclassmen from last year’s team have watched and learned enough to assume larger roles. And with the recalcitrant Patriots giving them plenty of opportunities with flags down, the Tigers duly chased in.
More encouraging still are the contributions coach Tommy Hannum is getting from throughout the roster. The go-ahead goal 44 seconds into the fourth quarter was a connection of relatively new faces — sophomore Vincent Terra threading a pass to junior Mike May on the crease to hammer home. James Kelly, who played sparingly last year, also added a pair of goals.
“Two new, young faces putting the ball in the back of the net helps some of our older guys who are putting it out for everyone else,” Long said. “Putting two guys on the field who can put the ball in the back of the net helps us out a lot.”
The mainstays remained, too. Viola dished a pair of assists, and Jake Huey went 17-for-21 at the faceoff X, including 14 straight wins in the second half.
Archbishop Carroll didn’t go quietly, thanks in large part to 20 saves by goalie Chris Stenger, many of them cleanly controlled. He struggled with rebounds on occasion — like when Funk scooped a ground ball after Stenger turned aside his shot and buried the rebound late in the second quarter. But more often than not, he frustrated the Tigers, who flung 51 shots in his general vicinity.
“He was good high, he was good low, he was good everywhere,” Long said. “We were anticipating him being good low, but he was good everywhere. We were putting the ball into his stick. But we were peppering him up, put a lot of balls on net and they were going in.”
Max Krieger set up a pair of goals in the first half as Carroll battled to trail by one at half. A Krieger goal, then the second of the afternoon for both Andy Borkowski and Conor O’Brien in a back-and-forth third quarter drew Carroll even at five apiece. Funk briefly broke the tie with a bounce shot, but a solo sortie from a largely muted Adam Ritter evened the game at six headed to the 12 minutes.
That’s when Marple turned it on, ripping off four straight tallies, to take control and harvest some early fruits of their rebuilding labors.
“It’s hard building chemistry, but we went to work,” Viola said. “We got the chemistry during practice, offense and defense go at it at practice. It’s non-stop chirping. But I think we’ve got that chemistry down.”
In other nonleague action:
Strath Haven 10, West Chester Henderson 7 >> Jeffrey Conner lit up the scoreboard with four goals and four assists, and Tyler Fink pumped home a hat trick for the Panthers, who won for a second time in as many nights. Will Brake made 11 saves in goal for Haven.
Ridley 14, Great Valley 7 >> Cade Stratton ran the offense with three goals and four assists, aided by Cade Heverly’s 17-for-20 day at the X as new coach Rory Friel picked up his first win.
Zane Johnston found the back of the cage four times, and Brock Anderson paired an assist with his hat trick. Devon Tavani contributed two goals and a helper.
Boys Latin 13, Springfield 4 >> Kyle Long dished two assists to go with a goal, and James Spence made eight saves, but the Cougars fell against the national powers from Maryland.
Malvern Prep 15, Garnet Valley 6 >> Evan Trizonis paired two goals with two assists, and Denny Nealon added a goal and a helper, but the Friars pulled away behind a hat trick and an assist from Jack Traynor.
Culver Military Academy 11, Episcopal Academy 6 >> Connor Ringwalt registered a hat trick, but Culver was just too much for the Churchmen.