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Late comeback not enough as Avon Grove’s season ends in PIAA quarters

ROSEMONT >> Twelve Avon Grove seniors were looking for a miracle to extend one of the greatest seasons in Avon Grove history.
Too much was on the line for the Red Devils to throw in the towel. Not after two and a half months of practices, games and state title aspirations since the start of the year.
Down three goals with 3:34 left, Avon Grove pulled all the stops to make sure it got one final shot at a state semifinal berth. Although the Red Devils did everything in their power to make a miracle happen, the end result turned into devastating heartbreak.
Kyle Long scored the winning goal with 41 seconds left for Springfield-Delco as the Cougars ended Avon Grove’s miraculous fourth-quarter comeback attempt for a 7-6 victory over the Red Devils in a thrilling PIAA quarterfinal game at Harriton High School Saturday afternoon.
Long’s goal sent Springfield-Delco (18-7), the third place team from District 1, to the state semifinals for the second consecutive season. The Cougars will play Strath Haven, which upset Upper Dublin 10-9 in the earlier quarterfinal game, Tuesday night.
The loss sent Avon Grove’s season to a shocking early exit as the Red Devils were a contender for a state title. Despite being outplayed for the first 45 minutes of the game, Avon Grove (19-3) did not down without a fight.
That’s not part of the Red Devils culture, especially for a senior class that ended up as the most accomplished bunch in their four years with the program.
“This team just never quits and they believe in each other,” said Avon Grove head coach Eric Jackson. “We played a really sloppy first three quarters and you can’t make mistakes against a very good, well-disciplined team like Springfield. But they are strong leaders that left it all out on the field.”
Once Avon Grove came out of the timeout with 3:34 left, Beau Kush wasted no time in trying to get the Red Devils a comeback for the ages. Kush scored his first goal of the game to cut the Springfield lead to 6-4 with 3:35 left.
Nate Hammond won the ensuing faceoff and immediately got the ball to Kush behind the cage. Using a pick from Zach Augustine, Kush wrapped around the cage and beat James Spence to make it 6-5 with 3:06 left.

Hammond won the next faceoff to give the Red Devils the chance to tie the game for the first time on the afternoon. Kush took his time on the possession before using another pick from Augustine to get by Springfield’s Mike Vent and fire a blast past Spence for the 6-6 tie with 1:24 left.

With all the momentum on Avon Grove’s side, a faceoff win would have given the Red Devils the final shot in regulation.
Zac Methlie beat Nate Hammond, who finished 12-for-16 in the ‘X’ for the day, to set up Long’s winner with 41 seconds left.
Avon Grove wasn’t finished until the final horn sounded as the Red Devils got off five shots on the final possession. Kush’s shot just went wide at the buzzer as Springfield players mobbed Spence in jubilation while Avon Grove looked toward the ground in defeat, knowing its season was over.
The upsetting loss didn’t take away from the numerous accolades Avon Grove’s senior class accomplished during their four-year run. Their 73 wins are a school record for an Avon Grove class, compiled with 2 Ches-Mont and District 1 championships along with a PIAA quarterfinal (2016), semifinal (2013) and runner-up finish (2014) on the resume.
Their tenure transformed Avon Grove from a 9-10 team in 2012 to a district and state power. That legacy will leave a lasting impression on Avon Grove lacrosse and in the community.
“I can’t say enough on how much I love these kids,” Jackson said. “For four years, they have been key contributors for us and more importantly they cared deeply about playing for Avon Grove. All of them have been a pleasure to coach.”

Springfield-Delco 7, Avon Grove 6
Springfield-Delco    3    1     2    1- 7
Avon Grove    1    1     1    3- 6
Springfield-Delco goals: Gerzabek 3, Vent 2, Debarnardi, Long.
Avon Grove goals: Kush 3, Augustine, Smith, Jones.
Goalie saves: Spence (SD) 10, Spencer (AG) 7.

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