UPPER MERION >> It’s almost become a mantra.
Marple Newtown’s boys lacrosse team is not in a position to contend for a Central League championship, but the Tigers are in a position to control the things they can control.
So the goal in every game is to win the ground balls and cut down the number of penalties.
They did one of the above Thursday afternoon in a non-league matchup against Upper Merion and it was good enough to emerge with a 12-4 victory that had the Tigers in good spirits after the game.
Al Viola had three goals and three assists to pace the Tigers, while Marlon Weathers added two goals and two assists as the visitors pulled away after building a 5-2 halftime edge.
“We’re just trying to get better as a team,” said Tigers head coach Tom Hannum. “We want to make sure we do the little things right, win the battle of fundamentals, and when you do that most times you’re going the win the game.
“That’s what we did today.”
The Tigers came out blazing, taking a 4-1 lead after a quarter, but Upper Merion bounced back and trailed by only 5-2 at the half.
But at the half, Hannum stressed going back to basics, and that meant winning ground balls and cutting back on penalties.
“That’s what Coach talked about at haltime,” Viola said. “We needed to win groundballs and we needed to cut down on penalties.
“I think we won the groundballs, but there were still a few too many penalties, and that’s something we have to work on.”
Meanwhile, Upper Merion was shorthanded, having lost three players recently to a combination of disciplinary and defections (a pair of players chose not to play over spring break), but head coach Brady McCormick was happy with his team’s play and effort.
“We were down three senior starters,” McCormick said, “and Marple is a very good team with a good coach.
“So I was really proud of the way the guys played. We’ve been having problems with the guys bickering with each other on the sidelines, but we haven’t had that the last couple of games.
“Marple showed up today with two buses full of kids and we had 15 kids on our varsity roster. I think that says a lot that we were able to keep the game close until the end.”
By game’s end, the Tigers had the non-league victory, but both teams walked away happy.
MARPLE NEWTOWN 12, UPPER MERION 4
Marple Newtown 4-1-3-4 – 12
Upper Merion 1-1-1-1 – 4
First Quarter Scoring: 1. Marple, Marlon Weathers (10:16); 2. Marple, Jake Long (Luke Jelos), 7:54; 3, Marple, Viola (m-up), 6:59; 4. Marple, Viola, 4:45; 5. Upper Merion, Nick Freda, 1:15.
Second-Quarter Scoring: 6. Marple, Weathers (8:14); 7. Upper Merion, Josh Reinhardt (0:50).
Third Quarter Scoring: 8, Marple, Viola, 9:53. 9. Marple, James Kelly, 5:17 (Weathers). 10. Marple, Julian Calbinal 4:25 (Viola); 11. Upper Merion, Freda (Johnny Salamy), 0:08.
Fourth Quarter Scoring: 12. Marple, Kelly, 10:54; 13. Marple, Kelly, 10:46. 14. Marple, Vince Tema (Weathers), 8:01. 15. Upper Merion, Reinhardt (Kyle Thornton), 5:19. 16. Marple, Jelos (Calbinal), 0:13.
Goaltender Saves: Marple-Liam Ferry 4; Upper Merion-Jonny Salamy 11.
Top Photo: Marple Newtown’s Al Funk looks to pass as Upper Merion’s Scott Clairmont defends during their game on Thursday, April 13, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)