WEST CHESTER – Organizing a post-game celebration can be a bit tricky as there are no guaranteed victories. And a loss, of course, can dampen the festivities.
But on Saturday, the West Chester Henderson boys’ lacrosse squad took care of business and everything else fell nicely into place for a celebration of Paul Stankewicz’s half-century as a lacrosse coach for the Warriors.
“This one definitely meant a little more than a normal non-league game,” admitted senior midfielder Pat Keegan. “You want to play harder for coach Stankewicz and his family, especially if you think about all the things he’s done for this program.”
As it turned out, the weather was glorious, and big crowd showed up at Dicks Stadium as Henderson ran away with a 16-4 non-league victory over visiting Owen J. Roberts. Afterwards, there was a festive surprise party for Stankewicz at a downtown West Chester establishment in honor of his 50th season on the sidelines.
“It’s a little scary,” said Stankewicz, who said that he had an inkling that something was in the works to celebrate his milestone season. “This group of players is good at not thinking about anything else until the game is over. We try to preach that no matter what the situation, try to play the same throughout.”
Stankewicz has amassed a 416-225 record as a head coach at Henderson since 1983. Before that he was an assistant dating back to the 1960’s.
“This was a big win for us, and being able to beat (Owen J. Roberts) pretty handily was nice,” said senior attacker Archer Rymiszewski, who led the Warriors with five goals and two assists.
Now 6-3 overall, the Warriors have won six in a row. Owen J. Roberts falls to 1-8.
“Henderson is an up-tempo team — we knew that coming in,” said Wildcats head coach Ben Carville. “We had some things to try to counter that, but we just didn’t execute.”
Owen J. Roberts had all kinds of trouble dealing with Warriors in transition, and that was crucial because Henderson had the edge on face offs and were particularly dangerous in unsettled situations.
“Our unsettled offense is second to none. That comes from us playing together for so long,” said Keegan, who scored three goals and dished out a game-high four assists.
“We saw film on (Owen J. Roberts) when they played Unionville,” Rymiszewski added. “We knew if we could get the fast break going, we could score goals on it.”
The score was deadlocked at 1-1 in the early going after the ’Cats’ Logan Clefish scored. But less than a minute later, Joe Saulino’s unassisted goal put the Warriors ahead for good. Brother Jack Saulino and Rymiszewski added goals in the ensuing minute to put Henderson ahead 4-1 heading into period two. The three goals in succession came immediately after face off wins by Luke Wierman.
Another goal by Rymiszewski, two by Wierman, and a third by Jeff Benson made it 8-3 at the half. Owen J’s Christian Brofft notched both of his goals in the quarter.
“We are pretty good in unsettled situations,” Stankewicz acknowledged. “We were a little anxious when it was 6-on-6. But if we break the ball loose, we can get up and down the field. Our opposition knows that so they all try to slow us down some.”
It didn’t happen on Saturday, however, and the Warriors took command in the second half by scoring seven consecutive goals. Rymiszewski notched three more tallies in the third quarter to make it 13-3.
“Give credit to Luke (Wierman) and Jack (Micco). They were lights out,” Rymiszewski said of Henderson’s two face-off specialists.
“Our two face-off men are terrific,” Stankewicz echoed.
The clash could have been more lopsided if it wasn’t for the play in goal by Owen J. Roberts’ Ben Hornak. The junior keeper stopped nine shots, including five in the first quarter.
“Ben made the saves he needed to make,” Carville said. “But the ones that were point-blank or we had a breakdown on defense and the fast breaks, that’s when we were exposed.”
In all, eight different Henderson players scored at least one goal. Jack Saulino registered two goals and an assist.
“We knew heading in that Owen J. is much better than their record,” Stankewicz said. “So I’m happy our guys didn’t take them lightly.”
West Chester Henderson 16, Owen J. Roberts 4
Owen J Roberts 1 2 0 1 — 4
W.C. Henderson 4 4 5 3 — 16
O.J. Roberts goals: Clefish, Brofft 2, Chamberlain.
W.C. Henderson goals: Rymiszewski 5, Keegan 3, Green, Wierman 2, Benson, Ja. Saulino 2, Jo. Salino, Hamm.
Goalie saves: Hornak (OJR) 9; Dampman (WCH) 4; Jacobs (WCH) 1.
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