NORTHAMPTON >> Standing on the sideline for 12 games was no easy task for Jack Borbee as Strath Haven was making school history.
The only way Borbee would be back on the field this season was if Strath Haven made the state playoffs.
The Panthers were able to accomplish that goal Wednesday night, in large part because Borbee scored three goals in his first game back as the Panthers eliminated Southern Lehigh 14-4 in a PIAA boys lacrosse tournament opener at Northampton High School.
“It’s been horrible to watch my team and not be able to do anything with them,” Borbee said. “They still were able to do a lot without me. I love playing with them and it felt great to be back contributing.”
Strath Haven, the fourth-place team in District One, won its first state playoff game in school history and will face District One champion Upper Dublin, a 10-3 winner over Cumberland Valley, in the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday.
The Panthers controlled the final three quarters en route to the win, despite not having possession for the majority of the opening 12 minutes.
Great feed from Borbee to Jake Ross for the goal. Strath Haven up 8-4 4:54 3Q pic.twitter.com/yvF5m0mrGm
— Jeff Kerr (@jeff_kerr) June 2, 2016
From that point, Borbee and Jeff Conner largely took over the game.
Borbee marked his return with a goal as he was getting hit from behind to give Strath Haven a 4-2 lead with 8:12 to go in the second quarter. Once Borbee got the shot off, he dove across the cage as the ball went past Southern Lehigh goalie Alex Amann and into the net.
“That one felt really good,” Borbee said with a laugh. “It just felt great to be back and help the team out. We have a great attack right now and we’re trying to keep it up throughout these playoffs.”
Borbee’s second goal gave the Panthers a 5-3 lead. Conner put home the next two to give Strath Haven a 7-3 edge heading into the half. Like Borbee, Conner finished with three goals.
“Their defense gave us what we wanted,” Conner said. “After I got my three, Will Huestis and others started getting into the game and we were flowing from there.”
Strath Haven outscored Southern Lehigh 7-1 in the second half to pull away. Goalie Will Brake finished with 10 saves.
“No one ever through we’d get this far,” Borbee said. “It feels great to get this win, but we have a chance to go much farther than this. Our goal is to make it to the state final. That’s where we want to be.”
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