WHITEMARSH >> La Salle is a lacrosse team on a mission.
The Explorers want nothing less than the PIAA Class AAA championship this year, and they’re not going to be content until they achieve it.
That means taking no one for granted, going all out at all times and all the other clichés that come up this time of the year when a powerful team is streaking toward making a little history.
The Explorers got their mission off to a rousing start Tuesday evening at rain-soaked Plymouth Whitemarsh High, topping Spring-Ford, 14-3.
But the Explorers are taking nothing for granted.
So while the final score was lopsided, Explorers head coach Bill Leahy still saw some things that didn’t please him.
“We did a lot of things well,” Leahy said, “but there are still things to work on.
“We threw the ball away far too much when we were trying to clear the ball, and that’s something that can’t happen at this level.
“Spring-Ford is a very good team, and we needed to play better.”
Some of things Leahy couldn’t grouse about included faceoff man Anthony Giuliani winning 15 of 18 faceoffs and Chris Hladczuk scoring four times.
But when you’re chasing a state title, and Leahy and the Explorers have chased quite a few in his tenure, there are few stones left unturned.
Spring-Ford took the lead less than a minute in when Danny Cassidy beat Mike Clibanoff at the 11:01 mark, but that would be the Rams’ last gasp for a while.
The Explorers followed with goals by Chris Mockaitis, Joey Taylor, Matt Clibanoff and Chris Hladczuk before Spring-Ford’s Tate Pijanowski found the net with two seconds left in the first quarter.
Brett Baskin increased the La Salle lead to 5-2 at the 10:22 mark of the second quarter, before the Rams’ Jarrod Marenger answered for Spring-Ford at the 6:48 mark of the quarter.
But the Explorers struck twice, getting goals from Ethan LaMond and Hladczuk’s second of the game, before halftime.
Spring-Ford was still in it, but the final 1:39 of the period doomed the Rams to runner-up status.
The third period,was scoreless until the Explorers got two goals from Hladczuk and one apiece from Brett Baskin and Clibanoff to make it 11-3 after three quarters.
And when Baskin scored following a Rams turnover 70 seconds into the fourth quarter, the die was cast.
“That minute and a half of the third quarter killed us,” said Rams head coach Kevin Donnelly. “We were still in the game, but that minute-and-a-half put us in a hole, and we never were able to recover.”
“We go into every game like we’re playing for the state championship,” Hladczuk said. “We play it a game at time.
“In the beginning of the game we weren’t settled down. But once we got our spacing offensively and went through X like we’re supposed to, we were effective.”
So effective that the Rams had no choice but to play out the game’s final quarter in futility mode.
“This season has been fun,” Donnelly said as the Explorers continued to celebrate. “These guys work hard, and I can’t wait to work with them again next season.”
LAX-ENDS: Spring-Ford defender Kyle Mason went down with a shoulder injury in the game’s final 5:20. His shoulder was popped back into place and he was escorted from the field.
LA SALLE 14, SPRING-FORD 3
Spring-Ford 2-1-0-0 &mdash: 3
La Salle 4-3-4-3 — 14
La Salle Scoring: Chris Hladczuk (4); Matt Clibanoff (2); Brett Baskin (3); Joey Taylor (1); Chris Mockaitis (1); Ethan LaMond (1); Logan Lazusz; Robert Foster (1).
Spring-Ford Scoring: Danny Cassidy; Tate Pijanowski; Jarrod Marenger.