PHOENIXVILLE >> Finally, the comparisons are welcome.
The Garnet Valley boys lacrosse team has spent the season being compared to last year’s Jaguars, a District 1-3A semifinalist and PIAA 3A quarterfinalist, in ‘not so good of a way,’ as Jaguars goalie Jason Rose tells it.
This year’s Jaguars may not have been able to duplicate the Central League success of the 2017 edition, but that is further and further in the rearview mirror after Saturday’s District 1-3A quarterfinal matchup with upstart Perkiomen Valley at Phoenixville.
Garnet Valley got a hat trick from Mitch Lachman and came up with the goods defensively down the stretch to hold off Perkiomen Valley, 8-7, to advance to the district semifinals and lock up a place in the PIAA tournament.
Danny Bradley had a goal and four assists and Jake Morin had two goals and an assist for the Jaguars (14-8), who are more than happy with being underestimated.
“We keep being compared to last year’s team in not so good of a way. But we’re in the same place they were and our team’s really come together,” Rose said. “We’re really embracing the underdog role. Everyone’s counted us out and we love it.”
The No. 15 seed Jaguars, which upset No. 2 seed Central Bucks East on Thursday, advance to take on No. 3 Upper Dublin in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Final: Garnet Valley 8, Perkiomen Valley 7. Jaguars into District 1 semis and earn place in states. Vikings head to playbacks pic.twitter.com/1w1Mt9vrgm
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) May 19, 2018
Saturday’s quarterfinal was a matchup of teams that weren’t supposed to match the accomplishments of the previous year’s team, yet both have or have the chance to surpass their predecessors.
That was also the case for Pioneer Athletic Conference finalist Perk Valley (14-8), which is in the process of its deepest run into the district championships in program history. The Vikings’ season is still alive with a playback for a PIAA berth upcoming on Tuesday at No. 6 Central Bucks West.
Max Nice scored three goals, Brian Fehr had a goal and an assist and Nick Pammer had two assists as the Vikings pushed back from a 7-3 halftime deficit and put a scare in the Jaguars late.
“This is our first time ever being at this stage of districts, and for us to be here versus a team that’s been consistently here — the first half didn’t go our way but we didn’t shut down, and the whole second half played a much better game and put ourselves in a position to win at the end,” PV coach Bryan Churchey said.
The game was largely decided on the extra-man offense. With Garnet leading 3-2 after one quarter, PV took a three-minute, non-releasable penalty on a hit to the head of Garnet’s Ryan Lopez. The Jaguars cashed in with three goals in three minutes — Morin scoring twice on backside cuts sandwiched around a Lachman strike from the point — to lead 6-2.
“We were pretty hype after that,” Lachman said. “It was part of the game plan, but really we were just trying to find the open man and we found him on the backside. We came out strong in the beginning and played really well on offense.”
Conversely, Perk Valley went 1-for-4 up a man, despite nine GV penalties.
“All season, you can check the stats, our man-down has been incredible,” said Rose (nine saves). “That’s all because of the five guys out there hustling and getting in their spot. We threw a couple things at them that they couldn’t handle.”
Lachman breaks sound barrier on shot for goal, 2:38 3Q, GV 8-3 pic.twitter.com/S6Aa2nYZlh
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) May 19, 2018
Lachman rocketed Garnet to an 8-3 lead with 2:38 in the third but Nick Steele ended the PV drought with 33 seconds left in the frame. That goal ignited a dramatic finish with Perk Valley getting within 8-6 at 9:20 on goals from Nice and Fehr. The Jaguars’ defense — Austin Patton, Sam Morin, Aidan Berry, Greg Reynolds and Adam Oldrati included — stood strong with PV carrying possession until Nice cut the deficit to one with 1:16 to play.
“These guys are a resilient group and they showed that again in the whole second half,” Churchey said. “You don’t want to be down 7-3 at half, but we held them to one goal the whole second half. We’re a fourth quarter team and we always play hard at the end. (Faceoff man Matt) Brock (10-for-19 FO) was doing better at the end and we were getting better looks.”
The Vikings had the ball and were up a man with 39 seconds left and had a chance to tie it with a buzzer-beater but Connor Roop’s bouncing shot missed just left of Rose’s goal.
PV now turns its attention to a do-or-die playback Tuesday, but put a performance Saturday worth taking heart from.
“I think we’re going to be fine on Tuesday. We have a good group of seniors with great leaders,” Churchey said. “A lot of them are football players who know what it’s like to be at this level of the district playoffs. We’re relying on them right now. It doesn’t feel good to lose, but we’re positive about it.”
The new edition of the Jaguars are surely feeling even more positive. So much for that ‘rebuilding year.’
“We had Matt Moore, Jacob Buttermore, Denny Nealon, Evan Trizonis, Jordan Trowbridge, all of our defense … nine of our starters graduated. Some really good players who were really successful in college (this spring) at all levels,” Rose said. “We lost them so everyone said, ‘Garnet Valley’s done. It’s a rebuilding year.’ But we’re here to prove them wrong.”
NOTES >> Rounding out the scoring for GV was Hunter Baar (1G), Bryce Stansfield (1G) and Nate Ominsky (1A). For PV, Roop, Richie Marshall and Connor Donovan had a goal apiece and Dillon Kane had an assist. Goalie Rob Farrington made six saves.