NEWTOWN SQUARE — Marple Newtown’s Charlie Box made an outstanding hustle play early in the third quarter of a District 1 Class 2A first-round playoff game Wednesday evening.
The No. 3 Tigers were leading by 10 goals and thoroughly dominating eighth-seeded Bishop Shanahan, the same team that ended their 2021 season in the district semifinals.
Box, one of best multi-sport athletes to grace Delaware County in recent years, sacrificed his body with his team comfortably ahead on the scoreboard. The score didn’t matter one bit.
Vying for possession, Box beat his man to the sideline but took a hard fall in the process. He heard nothing but loud cheers from his teammates, commending him for the gritty effort. That’s the only way Charlie Box knows how to play.
“I love making plays that get the bench going,” said the Cornell lacrosse recruit. “When you make hustle plays like that, it just lights another fire within our team. I get so hyped up doing that kind of stuff. Obviously, we want the ball there and don’t want to give them any breathing room.”
The play was emblematic of the Tigers’ season. Poised to take that elusive next step as a program, MN began its postseason journey with an 18-3 trouncing of Bishop Shanahan, which competed in each of the last three PIAA Class 2A championship games. The Tigers made certain the Eagles will not have a chance to capture a third state title in four years.
“We’ve talked about playing them and we’ve been looking forward all year to this matchup,” said Box, who accumulated five goals, three assists and two ground balls. “Last year we just had a bad taste in our mouths. We wanted to come out fired up and get the win.”
Marple (15-4) travels to No. 2 West Chester Rustin in the semifinal round Tuesday. It’s still a one-and-done scenario for the Tigers. Only the top two finishers in the district tourney advance to states.
“I think we’ve been playing really good lacrosse,” coach Kevin Merchant said. “We took this week, from our last game against Strath Haven leading up until now, and we have the mentality to go 1-0, no matter who was lined up with us. So with us, it’s just continuing to get better, play harder, play faster, play stronger every time we come out and I think the boys … we ran them through a tough workout on Sunday. A lot of their legs were sore but we’ve had some moments where we just thought we could step our game up, and I think the boys responded tonight and did well.
“I think last year, we had a good team and we had a great group of guys and good seniors last year. This team just has the feel. They have that feel like they’re a family. They’re all together. They’re ready to take that next step. And I think they’re hungry. You know, I think they want it and that means a lot.”
Box is one of seven seniors, all of whom made a big impact Wednesday. Senior Damien Bogsch had a strong game from the attack, producing four goals, two assists and three ground balls. Seniors Josh Funk and Jack Bradley excelled on defense.
“These seniors have really taken our hard work culture that we wanted to implement with these guys to another level,” Merchant said. “They understand that what they are doing out here just isn’t for their game, it’s also for all the guys that’s are coming up and following them. You can’t ask for much more from Charlie Box, from Damien Bogsch, all of those seven seniors. They do it day in and day out.”
A great captain will tell his team to turn the page quickly. That’s the point Bogsch reiterated in the postgame huddle. Sure, putting a beatdown on the team that knocked them out last year was sweet, but it’s only the first win. The Tigers have a road trip to Rustin to prepare for.
“We’re honestly going to forget about this win and come into the next game the same way we came in tonight,” Bogsch said. “We have to give it 110 percent ready to go and ready to win.”
Freshman Brian Box was outstanding, especially in the first quarter when big brother Charlie assisted on his first three goals. Brian also recorded a game-high five goals.
Marple goalie Jack Walsh wasn’t too busy, but he was very good when challenged and made nine saves.
Sophomore Joey Yukenevitch added two goals and two assists, while senior Cooper Conroy pitched in with a goal and an assist. Freshman Ryan Keating had a goal and a helper.
“We have to do what we do. That’s the biggest thing for us right now,” Merchant said. “We will obviously make some adjustments based on who we’re playing, but we have to continue to be us. Those hustle plays, that’s us.”
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