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La Salle advances to PIAA semifinals with win over Wilson

UNION >> La Salle coach Bill Leahey knows what a state championship caliber team looks likes.

He has coached the Explorers to two of them since lacrosse became a PIAA sport in 2009. Leahey will not say whether this year’s Explorers have the look of title contender but they only have to win two more games to prove it.

“They could be,” Leahey said. “That’s all crystal ball stuff. I have no idea. I can answer that when it’s over.”

The Explorers played a complete team game in Saturday night’s PIAA quarterfinal against Wilson-West Lawn as they dominated possession and controlled the game from start to finish as La Salle left Daniel Boone High School with a 14-5 win.

“We spent a lot of the year culture building,” Leahey said. “About being brothers, about having a healthy locker room, about taking care of each other and playing for the team and not yourself and I think it’s really starting to show.”

La Salle made its mark just eight seconds into the game as faceoff man Anthony Giuliani won the opening faceoff and ran it into the zone, where he found Matt Clibanoff for the goal. That was the first, but far from the last time Giuliani won a faceoff or Clibanoff registered on the stat sheet.

Clibanoff finished the contest with three goals and an assist as he trailed only attack-mate Brett Baskin in scoring who finished with four goals and two assists.

“Our mindset coming into the game was give it everything we have from the start,” Giuliani said. “Get up early, get hot, and just get us going. That pretty much is up to me to start the game off right.”

As for Giuliani, he made it so that guys like Clibanoff and Baskin could play make-it take-it pretty much all game as La Salle pumped 34 shots at the Wilson cage. The Explorers won 18 out of 23 face offs with a majority of them being Giuliani’s responsibility.

“Either way I take it I got studs either side of the field defensively and offensively and including our goalie,” the junior said of amount of options to do with the ball off a faceoff. “Wherever I can get it it’s pretty much a win for me and a win for the team.”

L aSalle does not yet consider its self the best team in the state but if it can muster up two more wins it would be hard to make an argument against it.

“Our confidence is there but we’re not the best team in the state,” Giuliani said. “Our goal every day is to out work each other in practice then out work our opponent in the game… Other teams might be more talented but we can outwork any team in the state.”

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