WEST GOSHEN – Considering the post-match coach’s comments, it was difficult to discern which team was on the winning side of Tuesday’s Ches-Mont boy’s lacrosse clash at wet and windy Zimmerman Stadium.
For the record, visiting Avon Grove pulled away late to register a 13-7 triumph over West Chester East, and remain unbeaten in league play. Head coach Eric Jackson certainly wasn’t ecstatic after his team prevailed for the eighth straight time, and on the road to boot. But more than anything, it says a lot about the lofty expectations surrounding the 2017 Red Devils.
“We need to watch the tape of this game and learn from the many mistakes that happened, and notice the hustle plays that West Chester East made,” Jackson said. “We need to play better in the future.”
Now 7-0 in the Ches-Mont (10-1 overall), Avon Grove still has to navigate four more league contests and a couple non-conference tune ups before entering the postseason, which is largely where its season will be judged. It also looks like the Devils will have to get past unbeaten Downingtown East on the road May 4th in order to claim the league crown.
“We just need to keep climbing the mountain and keep getting better,” said junior midfielder Jake Smith, who led all scorers with four goals.
Playing without injured starters J.D. Carroll and Joe Sivo – who are out for the season — the Vikings fall to 3-3 (6-6 overall). But afterwards, head coach Jim Schorn was upbeat.
“We played a very good game,” he said. “We’re pretty wounded right now. So when you play against Avon Grove – who is probably the best coached team in our league – to be able to hang with them is good.”
For a good portion of Tuesday contest, East was able to play Avon Grove on nearly even terms. The one glaring exception, however, was in the second quarter, where the Devils scored five straight to take control.
“If you break it into quarters, it was probably close in the first, third and fourth,” Schorn agreed. “(Avon Grove) won the second quarter, and when you play Avon Grove, you can’t blink.”
The Vikings were never able to take the lead, which can be a mental barrier. They tied it twice in the early going, at 2-2 and 3-3, before the big run. It started with a goal by Nick Chastain, and 30 seconds later Zach Augustine notched his second of the day.
And then Smith sort of took over with a natural hat-trick in the span of just over four minutes, to make it 8-3.
“The team found a little spark there, but at other moments we looked like not a very good team out there,” Jackson said.
“Once we get going, we play with a chip on our shoulder,” Smith added. “It brought the morale of the whole team up, but we have to keep firing the not settle. We can’t be content.”
East ended its scoring drought when Jesse Roth scored with 62 seconds remaining in the half, and then Roth scored again early in the second half, slicing the margin to three. In the meantime, the Red Devils came out sluggish in the second half until Smith notched his most impactful goal of the day, on an unassisted blast from distance midway through the third.
“Jake played great. He’s got a great shot and did some nice things on the field for us,” Jackson said.
“We were flat and we hadn’t scored for a while, so it was a big goal,” Smith added. “We talked at the half about looking to the guy next to you and say we are all in, so it kind of enforced what we were talking about.”
From that point on, Avon Grove outscored the Vikings 4-1 the rest of the way. Brendan Harman made it 11-6 late in the quarter, and then Augustine and Chastain each scored their third goals of the day in the fourth period.
“We’ve had problems all season finishing the second half, so I thought it was good that we put up (five) second-half goals,” Smith said.
Scooter Whiteside chipped in with a goal and three assists for the Devils, who play Catholic League power St. Joseph’s Prep on Saturday.
“At some point, we have got to get better,” Jackson complained.
“In order to beat Avon Grove, you have to be well prepared and you have to get some bounces go your way,” Schorn pointed out. “They are strong from goalie on down to the last attack wing. There aren’t many weaknesses.”
Avon Grove 13, West Chester East 7
Avon Grove 3 5 3 2 – 13
W.C. East 2 2 2 1 – 7
Avon Grove goals: Augustine 3, Chastain 3, Harman, Smith 4, Whiteside.
W.C. East goals: Hirsch, Dunkel, Roth 2, Corrozza, Greiner, LaGalante.
Goalie saves: Malone (AG) 6; Pugh (WCE) 6.