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Clibanoff sees competition as La Salle’s strength

Michael Clibanoff doesn’t seem that concerned about his La Salle lacrosse team playing for the PIAA championship against Springfield (Delco) Saturday morning (the game, originally scheduled for 2:30 p.m. has been moved up to 11:30 a.m.).

In fact, as a goaltender, Clibanoff has found it to his and his team’s advantage to not get rattled about much at all.

The sophomore netminder was not very shook up early this year when he was lifted by head coach Bill Leahy from a game in which he was not playing well.

For Clibanoff, the move was for the benefit of the team, not to the detriment of his play.

“Our whole team is competitive throughout,” Clibanoff said. “The positions aren’t settled.

“If someone isn’t playing well, the next player will step up.”

Clibanoff, whose twin brother Matt is one of the key contributors to the Explorers offense, also has an older brother, Austin, who is a defensive midfielder.

The Clibanoff crew has been a major component to the team’s success.

But the goaltending member of that group said that one of the reasons for the Explorers’ success is that everyone works hard and that no one is working at cross purposes.

“We have to work hard just like every other team,” he said. “Everybody’s battling to play.

“For me, we have three goalies on the team and we’re all trying to play. It makes all of us better.”

Of the three Clibanoff brothers, Michael was the last to get involved in lacrosse.

He was a baseball player until he went to watch his two brothers play lacrosse in a summer league.

“They didn’t have enough players, so I went into goal, and it was fun,” Clibanoff said. “I didn’t really like baseball.”

So the La Salle Clibanoff lacrosse team grew by one, and the rest has been to the benefit of the program.

As for the state final, this will be Clibanoff’s first, although he is well aware of the rich lacrosse tradition at La Salle, a tradition that includes 20 Philadelphia Catholic League crowns (in 25 seasons), while Saturday’s trip to the PIAA final will be the program’s fifth.

“To me, there’s no pressure,” Clibanoff said. “You just go out and play.

“I really don’t know much about Springfield, except I know their goaltender (James Spence). We were on the same summer team when I was in seventh grade and he was in eighth.”

As for how the Explorers match up with the Cougars, Clibanoff said the strategy is not as important as the Explorers simply sticking to what got them to this position.

“At practice we’re just doing the same things we’ve done all year,” he said. “Defensively, we’re just going to cover our men and offensively we’re going to run our patterns and hope we can score enough goals to win.”

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