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District 1 Class 2A Boys Lacrosse: McDougall, Penncrest hit it big in victory over Upper Merion

Penncrest's Jason Poole shoots in the second quarter against West Chester Henderson in March. (PETE BANNAN - DAILY TIMES)

MIDDLETOWN — There was some tripping, there was some slashing, there was a check to the head.

There were length-of-field passes and middle-of-field collisions.

There were loose balls gathered, aggressive shots taken and defiant goaltending.

There was, in the PIAA District 1 Class 2A boys lacrosse semifinals Tuesday, all of that, much of it from Penncrest, which outperformed Upper Merion, 16-3.

“That’s Penncrest lacrosse,” said Lions coach Wayne Metsinger, with a nod of acceptance. “We get after it. Sometimes, we get a little over-aggressive and take some penalties. And we know we are going to have to do a better job of keeping out of the penalty box when we get to the next level.”

The victory assured the Lions of a spot in the PIAA tournament, but before that a 5 o’clock challenge from Marple Newtown Thursday night at Ridley for the district championship. The defending champion Lions fell, 11-10, at Marple during the regular season, but will enter the rematch with an attitude that reflects their on-field approach.

“We lost to them by one,” said senior Dylan McDougall. “But if we play them 10 times, we would win nine.”

That sounded like a prediction.

“We got this,” McDougall said.

It’s an attitude that worked to win the Lions the top seed in the tournament, and which powered them past the fourth-seeded Vikings Tuesday. McDougall scored five goals – including three consecutively in a 4:33 blast of third-quarter excellence – and added an assist as the Lions improved to 14-5. Jason Poole added five goals and three assists, Chas Katz scored four times and Brennan Kaut had two goals and two assists.

The Vikings enjoyed goals from Casey Lamey, Andrew Haney and Lincoln Jones, but finished their season at 13-6.

“This score was not reflective of who we were this year by any stretch,” coach Brady McCormick said. “It felt like everything that could go wrong went wrong. Penncrest played a great game and they are a great team. I am not taking anything away from them. It just felt like shots hit pipes and all the things that could go wrong did.

“I’m not saying we would have won, but I just feel like a 13-goal loss did not reflect who we are as a team and what we were this year as the 2022 Upper Merion Vikings. It’s a hard way to end a season when you know you’re better than you showed in this game.”

Contributing to the Vikings’ troubles was Penncrest goalie Luke Pyle-Ballak, who made 11 saves in three quarters before giving way to Mark Feinman, who played a flawless fourth.

Last year, the Lions proved they could win a district championship. Friday, they will attempt something just as difficult: Defending one.

“Defending a championship it is always hard,” Matsinger said. “And these guys have had a target on their back all year long.”

They have also hit a few targets of their own.

“We’re hard-nosed,” McDougall said. “That’s how we play. That’s how we’ve always played. We’ve played with the same group of kids forever. And we don’t shy away from anything. We keep it classy, but we do play aggressive.

“We come in knowing that if we give 100 percent 100 percent of the time, this team can do anything.”

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