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North Penn picks up energy to top Neshaminy

TOWAMENCIN >> It took a little while, but North Penn eventually got going Tuesday afternoon.

Whether it was coming back from spring break or just a lack of energy, a lethargic start by the Knights boys’ lacrosse team allowed visiting Neshaminy to tie things up early in the second quarter. A hustle play led to a goal and North Penn turned it up from there, pulling away in the second and third quarters.

Once they got going, the Knights didn’t slow down as they topped Neshaminy 11-4 in an SOL National game to start their week.

“We definitely started off slow,” North Penn junior attacker Jake Dolan said. “We 100 percent picked it up and it was all the energy coming from the sideline. We had a timeout, talked it up with the coaches and it all started to come together.”

Dolan had a nice afternoon with a hat trick and assist while Dakari Luby paced North Penn with four goals and two helpers. He gave the Knights a 1-0 lead in the first quarter off a nice feed by Caleb Moister, but North Penn (3-1, 1-0 SOL National) was otherwise ineffective with the ball in the frame.

Not capitalizing on those early possessions allowed Neshaminy (0-3, 0-2 SOL National) to hang around and the visitors tied the game 1-1 on a man-up goal with seven minutes left in the second quarter. The goal seemed to spark something in North Penn with the host team ripping off the next six goals to end the first half.

“We’re trying to really harp on the fundamentals,” Knights coach Rick Smith said. “The catching, the throwing, the ground balls, it’s all important but we were missing that energy. Sometimes, once you bring that energy and get one goal, it becomes contagious and everyone wants to score.”

The game didn’t stay tied long either. Moister made a nice hustle play off the ensuing faceoff to collect the groundball after a prolonged battle for the ball, then found Declan Lainer who rippled the net for the go-ahead tally with just 19 seconds elapsed on the game clock.

A previously stagnant offense then got on track and the ball moved a lot crisper. Long pole Danny Myers set up the next goal, gathering a groundball off a Matt Kuhn save, carrying it up the field and dropping the assist to Luby for a 3-1 lead.

The Knights took a timeout shortly after the Luby goal and just reinforced doing the right things on offense. Dolan assisted Connor Toussaint, then Luby assisted two goals and scored his second of the frame with just 9.6 on the clock to give North Penn a strong 7-1 lead at the break.

“We were standing still at the beginning, especially in the first quarter,” Dolan said. “The coaches brought us together and told us to start moving our feet, pass the ball, make cuts, just anything to make sure we weren’t standing still.”

Lars Homan, Luby and Dolan all tallied goals in the third quarter as North Penn went up 10-1 before a late tally by Neshaminy cut into the lead going to the final quarter. Dolan’s goal was set up by another transition play by Myers to give him a hat trick.

Defensively, the Knights were pretty stout. Myers and fellow poles Dan Sloan and Ben Sanfelice were active each with a caused turnover and several groundballs while Kuhn made nine stops in net. While North Penn is raw as a team, Smith said most of the Knights’ experience is on the defensive end.

Much of the Knights’ defending in the fourth was done with a man down as a flurry of flags put Neshaminy in the advantage, but the visitors only pulled back two goals from it.

“We have to put together four full quarters of lacrosse,” Smith said. “We’re fairly young as a team but we feel confident in those guys in the back. It’s all about piecing together a complete game now.”

Luby capped the scoring for North Penn with an absolute snipe with 1:21 left on the clock.

After the game, Smith gave his players a talk about playing with a target on their back, especially in conference games and when he was done, a few of the team’s leaders gave their own words in the huddle.

“That first quarter slowed us down and that’s what we weren’t happy about,” Dolan said. “It starts in pregame, we have to make sure we come ready and keep that energy up.

“Our seniors and even the juniors are taking control. We’re not coming down on each other, it’s all constructive criticism.”

NORTH PENN 11, NESHAMINY 4
NORTH PENN 1 6 3 1 – 11
NESHAMINY 0 1 1 2 – 4
Goals-Assists: NP – Dakari Luby 4-2, Jake Dolan 3-1, Connor Toussaint 2-1, Declan Lainer 1-0, Lars Homan 1-0, Danny Myers 0-2, Caleb Moister 0-1.

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