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Donofrio’s late goal lifts Wissahickon over Pennridge in District 1-3A quarterfinals

Wissahickon's Nicholas Donofrio (1) celebrates after his goal in the fourth quarter gave the Trojans a 10-9 lead over Pennridge in their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. Wissahickon won by the same score. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

EAST ROCKHILL >> In a tie game late in the fourth quarter, with a spot in the District 1-3A semifinals on the line, Nicholas Donofrio saw his opening.

“Everyone kept shooting, everyone let it fly so I just saw the chance and I finally took it,” the Wissahickon boys lacrosse senior said. “My guy was kind of stuck behind me and there was nobody really on the crease defending so I kind of just took it and just went little underhand.”

Donofrio darted in from behind the Pennridge goal and sent his shot in with just 74 seconds remaining in Tuesday night’s quarterfinal matchup between Suburban One League conference champions.

A defensive stand in the final minute secured the sixth-seeded Trojans its second trip to states in three seasons with a 10-9 victory over the host No. 3 Rams at Helman Field.

Wissahickon’s Kyle Lehman (14) lifts up goalkeeper Kyle Crump (18) with Gavin Myers (10) also joining the celebration af the Trojans defeated Pennridge 10-9 in the District 1-3A quarterfinals on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

“It’s really fun,” Donofrio said. “We’ve went to states two years ago and going into the season we didn’t have many expectations cause we lost a lot of seniors from last year. It’s good to get to get back.”

Donofrio, a Salisbury University commit, scored a hat trick while Kyle Lehman finished with a game-best four goals, his last coming at 5:33 in the fourth to give SOL American champ Wissahickon (16-2) a 9-8 lead.

Ryan Carickhoff answered just 57 seconds later to pull Pennridge (17-2) level. The Trojans could not convert on a possession, which ended on a turnover. But after their timeout, the Rams were called for offsides, giving Wissahickon back the ball with 2:22 left.

“It’s a tough one with that offsides, it wasn’t by a lot I think it was one step,” Pennridge coach Chris Pianko said. “And sometimes we talk about it, it’s just doing the little things right and making sure that we cannot give the team second chances, not give the team possessions.”

Wissahickon’s Kyle Lehman (14) scores a goal in the fourth quarter against Pennridge during their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Donofrio made most of it – coming around the left side of the goal to strike for the third time and give the Trojans the edge at 1:14.

“He’s come through in big moments,” said Wissahickon coach Matt Conway of Donofrio. “Conestoga, he scored a huge goal late. Upper Dublin he scored a huge goal late. He just has a knack for coming up big in the biggest moments when we need him to.”

Pennridge, the SOL National champ, sent shots at the net in their bid for a late equalizer but none found their way in – a final chance snagged by Trojans goalkeeper Kyle Crump and sent up the field.

“The kids got into great positions and we definitely had the looks and the opportunities,” Pianko said. “And sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way and you just got to pick your head up and keep attacking.”

Pennridge’s Levi Souder (1) and Ryan Carickhoff (9, right) celebrate after Souderton’s goal in the fourth quarter against Wissahickon during their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Andrew Slackman added two goals for Wissahickon, which advances to visit second-seeded Springfield-Delco – which beat No. 10 Conestoga – in the semis 7 p.m. Tuesday. Winner faces either No. 1 Radnor or No. 5 Downingtown East in the district final Wednesday, May 31.

“We weren’t looking to go this far,” Donofrio said. “Maybe get like a first-round district game, maybe a second-round district game we weren’t expecting to get this far. And even now too, we’ve lost our faceoff guy and now another d-pole so we’re losing a lot of guys but I feel like as a team we can really come together and just fight through everything.”

The Trojans also clinched the program’s second PIAA tournament berth after the 2021 squad that fell in the district quarters but rebounded with two wins to take fifth place.

“The expectation two years ago, it was to be here,” Conway said. “This year it was more see what can happen, maybe we’ll get lucky.”

Wissahickon’s Andrew Slackman (8) drives up the field against Pennridge during their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Carickhoff and Drew Ferguson both scored twice to pace Pennridge, which had its 13-game winning streak snapped – its last loss coming April 1 at Owen J. Roberts.

Rams goalkeeper Tyler Vandermark made 15 saves while Crump stopped 10 shots for Wissahickon.

Pennridge can still earn its first-ever spot in states through district playbacks. The Rams host Conestoga 7 p.m. Thursday with the winner qualifying for states with the loser having its season end.

“It’s a tough one,” Pianko said. “Any one that close is going to be tough. I’ll be second-guessing some calls for a little while here but what we told the kids is the benefit is we’ve earned an opportunity to go to the playbacks and still have a chance to make it to states for the first time ever for Pennridge.

“At this point we’re trying to keep our heads held high, Wissahickon’s a great team and hopefully we have another chance on Thursday.”

Pennridge’s Ben Souder (36) collects a draw ahead of Wissahickon’s Kyle Lehman (14) during their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Donofrio came around the net to give Pennridge a 1-0 lead at 8:37 in the first quarter but goals by Matthew Seiler and Ferguson had the Rams up 2-1 at the five-minute mark. Donofrio, however, tallied his second at 1:21 as the opening period ended even at 2-2.

“Honestly, just being right place at the right time and then also the past three games I have been in kind of a slump so it just felt good,” Donofrio said. “I feel like I was kind of due.”

The Trojans took advantage of transition opportunities to grab the lead – Kyle Doll scoring at 8:26 while Penn State commit Lehman collected his first at 7:21 to make it 4-2.

“Their 10-man ride, it was working but it wasn’t working at the same time so we kind of capitalized on that,” Donofrio said. “And we took a lot of fast-break chances.”

Wissahickon’s Daniel Hussa (17) checks the stick and ball from Pennridge’s Levi Souder (1) during their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Slackman extended Wissahickon’s scoring run to four at 4:53 but Rocco Fanelli’s goal 49 seconds later had Pennridge down 5-3 at halftime.

The Rams got their offense going in the third, beginning with Matt Kriney scoring 33 seconds after the break to make it 5-4. Lehman put the Trojans back up two at 11:18 but Carickhoff found the back of the net at 10:48 with Ferguson knotted things at five with his goal at 8:22.

Kevin Matthews’ tally at 7:49 gave Pennridge its first lead since 2-1 in the first quarter

“I don’t think anything changed, I think we just started executing a little bit better,” Pianko said. “Didn’t put in any adjustments, didn’t yell at ‘em or try to rile ‘em up any way it was trying to make sure that we did what we’ve been doing all season and make sure that we’re playing our game and trying to get up and down the field fast.”

Wissahickon’s Nicholas Donofrio (1) with the ball behind the goal as Pennridge’s Kevin Matthews (26) defends him during their District 1-3A quarterfinal on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at Helman Field. (Mike Cabrey/MediaNews Group)

Lehman stopped the Rams’ three-goal run by coming around the net to score his third at 1:52, sending the game to the fourth tied 7-7.

Slackman put the Trojans up 8-7, driving down the field after his interception for a goal with 10:41 remaining.

Levi Souder struck at 9:45 to get the Rams even again before Lehman scored for the fourth and final time at 5:33. Carickhoff’s second goal made it 9-9 with 4:30 left.

District 1-3A Quarterfinals
(6) Wissahickon 10, (3) Pennridge 9
Wissahickon 2 3 2 3 – 10
Pennridge 2 1 4 2 – 9
Wissahickon Goals: Kyle Lehman 4; Nicholas Donofrio 3; Andrew Slackman 2; Kyle Doll.
Pennridge Goals: Ryan Carickhoff 2; Drew Ferguson 2; Rocco Fanelli; Matt Kriney; Kevin Matthews; Matthew Seiler; Levi Souder.



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