NORTHAMPTON >> Parkland came fast and furious and by the time Upper Dublin’s boys lacrosse team settled down, it was already behind.
A fast-break fueled start by the District 11 champion Trojans had Upper Dublin on its heels in the first quarter and the Cardinals, despite making some adjustments and battling, never found a way to catch up. It was an unexpected ending to the season for Upper Dublin on the road at Northampton High School in the opening round of the PIAA 3A tournament.
Parkland’s offensive surge was too much as the Trojans downed the Cardinals 14-7 Tuesday night.
“Their faceoff was good, they were pretty fast off transition and they had some good shooters, they picked where they wanted to shoot and if they had their hands free, they could place the ball where they wanted,” UD goalie Dillon Lojeski said. “I just tried my best, the defense tried their best to shut it down.”
Upper Dublin hit a buzzsaw of a schedule to end the season, losing to District 1 champ Garnet Valley in the district semifinals, then to district top seed Avon Grove in a seeding game before taking the trip up the Northeast Extension to face Parkland.
Cardinals coach Dave Sowers felt his guys weren’t focused to start the game and after Jerry Bardol made it a 1-1 game, Parkland ripped off the next five goals and ended the first quarter up 7-2. Much of that success was due to faceoff man Andrew Albertson, who helped Parkland to a 19-5 edge in faceoffs.
“I just think the momentum was on their side the entire game,” Lojeski, who made 18 stops, said. “They’d score on goal then another, win a faceoff and score another. After four goals, we’d score but at that point, you only made it a five-goal game. It’s not over, but momentum’s shifted and it’s hard to get back.”
The loss ends the careers of Upper Dublin’s large senior class, a very decorated group. With many of them contributing back as sophomores, they were part of a three year run that saw UD win two SOL American titles, the 2016 District 1 title and make the state playoffs twice in that span.
A group full of solid all-around players, there was no star among them so the team’s success depended on all of them playing their part.
“They’re a real great group, they really are,” Sowers said. “This year, the expectations weren’t even to be here. We have no Division I players, just a lot of guys who play really, really hard. We ran into two good teams in Garnet Valley and Avon Grove then we come up here and weren’t ready to play.
“We can’t lose focus of what they did all season long, to go 17-1 in the regular season with the teams we played, they’re all good teams.”
Lojeski, a three-year starter in net, knew his guys wouldn’t fold on Tuesday, even as Parkland took a 12-3 lead into the break. The senior goalie said he and his classmates are like brothers and they were going to hustle and fight for each other.
“It’s insane that it’s over,” Lojeski said. “It’s a family at this point. It’s a bunch of boys that like to get after it and do what we do. We like to win, sometimes we don’t but, I don’t know, it was fun.”
While there’s no denying the Cardinals had plenty of really good players, Lojeski said it was the chemistry more than anyone’s individual skill that led to the success this season.
“That’s what made these guys,” Sowers said. “That’s the thing I’ll take back, not these last three games but the fact we beat some good teams during the season and they did it together.”
Parkland advances to face PCL and District 12 champion La Salle on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Upper Dublin loses a lot of contributors in its senior class but also brings back some quality players for next season. Faceoff man Lucas Roselli is a junior, attackman Jason Williams, midfielder Brian McCarry and defenseman Jake DiMartile are sophomores and defenseman Seth Miller, who saw extended minutes on Tuesday, is a freshman.
After helping build UD into a top program in District I over the past three seasons, Lojeski was confident the returning guys could keep that run going
“I hope they carry on the legacy of Upper Dublin and keep winning,” Lojeski said. “It starts with the leadership, whether it’s from these seniors or even the last few years coming up. We built this program to pretty high expectations and I think those guys will take it into consideration and come out hard next year to put everything they have into it.”
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