PLYMOUTH MEETING >> To get a feel for where his team is to begin each year, Garnet Valley coach Frank Urso likes to plan a few scrimmages against top competition from around the area. When the Jaguars met St. Joseph’s Prep in a scrimmage where neither kept score, he still saw enough to come away with a lot of confidence and optimism.
Fast forward almost three months and his Jaguars were again facing the Hawks, except this time the score would count and they would be playing for more than just pride and team camaraderie. Playing in its first state tournament since 2013, Garnet Valley had three different players score at least three goals on its way to a 17-7 victory over St. Joe’s Prep in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A Tournament at Plymouth Whitemarsh.
Urso credits that scrimmage with helping his team’s development more than giving them an insight into a future playoff opponent.
“We played really well that day. They took that confidence and (made sure) we jumped out early today. In these kinds of games, you don’t want to get behind because then you start making mistakes,” Urso said.
Jake D’Annunzio, led the way with five goals, Jacob Buttermore scored four goals and added an assist, and Matt Moore tallied three goals and an assist as Garnet Valley’s (18-5) vaunted attack never allowed the Hawks to make the game close.
Buttermore scored the first goal of the game 1 minute, 2 seconds in, and from there was evident the Jaguars were in rhythm. Buttermore, who also added two more goals to finish off the first half, said he and his teammates took a lot from their preseason scrimmage.
“We knew their defense was going to push out and be athletic so we had to be ready for that. We didn’t have much film on them so we had to take as much away from our (scrimmage) as we could and use that in today’s game and it worked out,” Buttermore said.
In the third quarter, D’Annunzio scored two goals in a 19-second span to push his team’s lead to 11-4. All three of Moore’s goals were unassisted and he single-handedly broke the Prep (12-10) defense time and time again. The Hawks were never able to cut the deficit to less than four goals, and coach Sean DeLaney stressed how his team had changed since that early scrimmage.
“We’re a completely different team. I think we had five guys then who are not playing tonight. Based on the film we watched, they were a completely different team, too,” DeLaney said.
Garnet Valley advances to play Avon Grove, a 14-4 winner over Cumberland Valley, in the 3A quarterfinals. The Jaguars lost to the Red Devils earlier this season.