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Avon Grove dominates St. Joe’s Prep in first round of PIAA-3A playoffs

WHITEMARSH >> Avon Grove beat St. Joseph’s Prep, 11-1, in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A state playoffs Tuesday afternoon at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School’s Victory Field.

After falling behind 1-0 86 seconds into the game, the Red Devils (1-3) didn’t allow another goal the rest of the way. 
 
“We knew that we needed to come out strong today,” Avon Grove’s Jake Smith said. “If we didn’t we were going to lose. I knew that once we were going to get the ball that if we were confident in each other we’d win the game.”
 
Faceoff man Nate Hammond was a big reason why they got the ball. He won 12 of 16 faceoffs in the game and kept the Hawks (12-2) from getting possession.
 
“This game is like a game of runs,” Smith said. “The momentum was on our side because of Nate Hammonds winning faceoffs. That’s in our favor.
 
“Faceoffs are huge. Nate won (75%) of them today. If we’re getting the ball and we can settle in and make them uncomfortable I think that’s a good chance for us. Nate is the MVP of the game every game winning all those faceoffs. If we’re able to hold the ball like that, it’s a huge advantage.”
 
The first faceoff Hammond lost came with 19 seconds left in the first half. Avon Grove regained possession and scored with five ticks before intermission to take an 8-1 lead.
 
The second quarter was where the Red Devils took control of the game. They turned a 3-1 lead into an 8-1 blowout over the 12-minute stretch.
 
The advantage grew to 10-1 after three quarters and 11-1 at the final whistle.
 
Smith, Zach Augstine, Joey Borcky and Nick Chastain each had two goals for AG. Scooter Whiteside added a goal and four assists. 
 
The win sets up a likely rematch with Conestoga (1-2) in the quarterfinals Saturday at a site and time to be determined. Conestoga beat Avon Grove in triple overtime in the district playoffs. 
 
“You don’t need anyone to talk to us to get us hyped for that game,” Smith said. “That’ll be a good game.”

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