NEWTOWN SQUARE >> It dawned on Marple Newtown, late in their 17-2 win over Delaware County Christian School/Devon Prep in the District 1 Class 2A playoffs Wednesday, they’d been down that road before.
At some point in their lacrosse lives they felt similar frustration.
Sympathy will get you nowhere, though, and the Tigers owed it to themselves and the opposition to take care of business.
With James Kelly scoring four goals and the defense pitching a shutout until the final minute of the third quarter, the Tigers (13-6) rolled into the second round of the playoffs Saturday, where they oppose Central League force Strath Haven.
“It was really a team effort,” Kelly said. “First playoff win in over 20 years at home. Last year we got eliminated in the second round of the playoffs so we wanted to get to the next round. And it really started with the defense. We came out and played our game. It’s a huge win, a good turnout, senior pride.”
The season is over for what has been referred to as Team 21, the consortium of Delco Christian and Devon Prep. Team 21, (or, two schools, one team) can take solace in making its first appearance in the districts since forming as an independent school in 2013. It also avoided the stain of a shutout. While the Tigers subbed liberally from the second quarter on, Team 21 trailed, 15-0, at the intermission.
Fittingly, Team 21 (8-9) got goals from two of its five captains to avoid the goose egg. Tim Fitzgerald ended the shutout in the final minute of the third quarter and Dan Poirier got the other goal.
“Not what we hoped for,” Poirier said. “We knew they were a good team. We got together at the half and we said, ‘Listen, this is our last year. Let’s take it to them.’”
There was no taking from Marple Newtown, though. Eight different Tigers scored goals in the first period to basically snuff out whatever thoughts Team 21 had of advancing in the districts.
Kelly scored three goals, Alex Viola two in an entertaining second period highlighted by Cain Tarquini’s 35-meter roller launched with such force that FieldTurf pellets flew this way and that like sparks marking the trail to the goal. It gave the Tigers a 12-0 lead.
Tigers coach Tom Hannum, the doctor of building lacrosse programs, could relate to where Team 21 is, and where it wants to go.
“Their coaches had them playing very inspired ball,” Hannum said. “They were 8-8 this year. They did a great job. It’s an up and coming program, they’ve got great coaching and they never give up.”
Team 21 was well represented by fans who in the absence of offense, cheered good defensive play in the first half and for much of the second. They also seemed a big part of the 2-in-1 concept.
“It’s very unorthodox,” Poirier said. “My first year I was kind of upset because I just wanted it to be my team. Now some of those guys are my best friends and I’m going to be there for them for the rest of my life.
“People still ask me like, what team are you on? Devon Prep? I say no, it’s Team 21 and they’re like, ‘what are you talking about?’ I say it’s two schools, one team. We work out together, we run together. It’s an awesome experience. We went from barely winning any games our first year to making it to the districts this final year. It’s been quite a journey.”
The Tigers also have a getaway destination in mind. They’d like to see if they’re a different team than the one that lost to Strath Haven earlier this year.
“They are really good,” Hannum said. “We can make some noise. We’re a good young team with some great leadership, as well. Hopefully we’ll give them all they can handle Saturday.”
Team 21, on the other hand, must content itself with reaching its goal of the offseason, not so much the way it ended.
“We haven’t played a team of that standard, of that level,” Team 21 coach Mark Consolo said. “We want to be at that level. But our guys kept fighting. I’m proud of them. They played their heart out. They’ve come a long way. Making the districts for the first time for them, especially the seniors like Dan Poirier and Jake Gutowski, kind of set that goal and that standard for us. Devon and DC obviously are rivals. For them to be able to come together as a team, that in itself is pretty remarkable. They have a relationship off the field, too. They’re truly a team. It’s not just practices. It’s been enjoyable as a coach to watch them grow.”
In other Class 2A action:
Radnor 15, Phoenixville 2 >> The defense was on point as the Raiders shut out the Phantoms in the first, second and fourth quarters. Goalie Tucker Ballbach made seven saves, while Jack Henry had one stop.
Mike McShea (10-for-10) and Chris Austen (8-for-8) dominated the face-offs. That led to an offense in which 12 players scored. Westy McLaughlin (two goals, one assist) and Emmett Burns (two goals) paced that balanced attack.
The win sends the fifth-seeded Raiders into Saturday’s quarterfinals against fourth-seeded Bishop Shanahan, which had a bye.
In the Inter-Ac Challenge quarterfinals:
Episcopal Academy 9, Springside Chestnut Hill 4 >> Gabe Furey (two assists), Nake Emrick (one assist), Connor Ringwalt (one assist) and C.J. McNally scored two goals each to send the Churchmen into Friday’s quarterfinals against Culver Academy, a 17-7 winner over Penn Charter.
Goalie Jake Floyd-Jones made 10 saves for EA.
Haverford School 15, Hun School 10 >> Joel Trucksess was 19-for-27 at the X, to send the Fords into the semis against Malvern Prep, which knocked off Lawrenceville, 19-7.
T. J. Malone led the offense with four goals and one assist. Luke O’Grady added three goals, while Adam Salvaggio and Peter Garno chipped in with two goals each.
Top photo: Marple Newtown’s Jake Huey makes a move on Devon Prep/Delco Christian’s Jalen Kremin in Wednesday’s District 1 Class 2A playoff game. (Photo by Anne Neborak — Digital First Media)