Royersford – Coming off a tough loss in the District 1 finals, Ches-Mont boys’ lacrosse champion Avon Grove came out smoking in its PIAA 3A state tournament opener Tuesday, rolling past Cumberland Valley, 14-4, at Spring-Ford High School.
Avon Grove got off to a good start by winning 20 of 21 faceoffs, thanks to junior midfielder Nate Hammond.
“I had the whistle [timed] and quick hands tonight,” said Hammond, a Naval Academy commit.
Avon Grove jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 2 ½ minutes on goals from senior attack Brendan Harman.
“Before the game, I told our team that this was a completely new tournament, that what we did before doesn’t matter anymore, that we have to take it one game at a time,” said Avon Grove head coach Eric Jackson. “I thought our team played well all-around today.”
With the victory, Avon Grove advances to the second round of States, in which it will play Garnet Valley, the third-place finisher in District 1.
Avon Grove built a 5-1 lead by halftime Tuesday. The only Cumberland Valley goal in the first half occurred when Eagles’ senior attack Conner Ball intercepted a pass near the Avon Grove cage and scored a few seconds later. Otherwise, Avon Grove senior goalie Kevin Malone was turning away each and every Cumberland Valley shot to the goal in the first half. Malone finished with 10 saves.
“Kevin made some big saves for us today,” said Jackson. “That seemed to give us a boost of good energy each time it happened.”
Harman, who scored four goals in the District 1 championship game loss to Conestoga, finished with six goals Tuesday – three by halftime. The other two Avon Grove goals were from senior midfielder Doug Jones just before the first quarter ended, and junior midfielder Nick Chastan just before halftime.
Leading 5-1 at halftime, the District 1 runner-ups weren’t yet satisfied, and exploded for eight goals in the third stanza, getting goals from six different players.
“Our offense was a little slow in the first half,” said Hammond. “But then we picked it up in the third quarter.”
Just 54 seconds into the third quarter, Harman blasted home a goal from the left corner, then Red Devil junior midfielder Jake Smith scored with 9:35 left in the period to make it 7-1.
Avon Grove junior attack Joey Borcky fired one home with 7:07 left in the third quarter, then 30 seconds later Chastan scored his second goal of the game to give Avon Grove a 9-2 advantage.
Harman scored his fifth goal of the game with 4:43 left in the third period, then 25 seconds later Avon Grove sophomore attack Zach Augustine tallied his first of two goals in the quarter. With time expiring in the period, Avon Grove junior defender Brady Anderson got in the scoring act to make it 13-2.
In the fourth quarter, Harman scored his sixth goal of the game with 4:18 left.
Leading the way in assists for Avon Grove was Smith (four) and Augustine (three).
Avon Grove 14, Cumberland Valley 4
Cumberland Valley 1 0 1 2 – 4
Avon Grove 3 2 8 1 – 14
Cumberland Valley goals: Ball 2, Schalies 2.
Avon Grove goals: Harman 6, Augustine 2, Chastan 2, Anderson, Smith, Jones, Borcky.
Goalie saves: Dudziak (CV) 2, Malone (AG) 10.