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District 1 Boys Lacrosse: Eight is great for Yukenavitch as Marple hammers Penncrest

NEWTOWN SQUARE — It’s customary after every Marple Newtown win for one player to receive the “Tiger Pride” sledgehammer.

The two attributes it symbolizes are hard work and skill, of which Joey Yukenavitch has plenty.

The honor was bestowed upon the young man they call “Yuke,” a uber-talented junior attackman, following top-seeded Marple Newtown’s domination of No. 5 Penncrest in the semifinal round of the District 1 Class 2A semifinals.

Yukenavitch accounted for eight goals and one assist as the Tigers crushed the Lions, 21-5.

How many times has Yukenavitch taken home the sledgehammer?

“Oh, two or three times,” he said. “We all share it.”

Figuratively, Yukenavitch played a vital role in hammering the final nail in the coffin of Penncrest’s season. In two games between the Central League rivals, the Tigers outscored the Lions, 33-7, taking any drama out of what had been a rematch of last year’s final.

For the Tigers, there was never any doubt they were going back to the district final. The game was in the bag after the first quarter. And now the reigning champions will defend their trophy next Wednesday against No. 2 Rustin, which claimed an 11-3 triumph over Bishop Shanahan in the other semifinal. Time and location for the championship tilt is to be determined.

“We knew what we had to do to win this game,” Yukenavitch said. “We came in, dominated, had a lot of fun playing with the boys.”

A late-arriving crowd would have seen a scoreboard reading 11-1 after one period. Freshman Jace Kostack scored off an assist from his brother, Evan, 20 seconds in. The Lions pulled even on a goal by Spencer Meile with 10:02 left in the quarter… and that pretty much ends the highlights for Penncrest.

Yukenavitch netted back-to-back goals to put the Tigers (16-4) ahead, 3-1. Alex Chambers demonstrated his ability to win faceoffs and create easy scoring opportunities for the Tigers. Chambers, who scored a goal, went 18 for 22 on faceoffs.

By the end of the first period, Yukenavitch had tallied four goals and Robert Wagner had a hat trick. Evan and Jace Kostack had scored twice in the opening frame.

The Tigers were determined to not give the Lions any idea of staying competitive.

“We’ve had a really good week of practice leading up to this game,” Marple Newtown coach Kevin Merchant said. “We’ve really been stressing being disciplined, being patient, but also playing free and having fun and playing hard and playing fast. I think our guys put all that together today. We controlled our attitude, we controlled our effort and we really went out and attacked tonight.”

On the defensive side, the Tigers got standout performances from Dave Bertoline, who had three caused turnovers and four ground balls to go with a pair of assists. Jake McGown (two caused turnovers), Brett Wolski (four ground balls), Tyler Hannan (one caused turnover) and Colin Wolk (two caused turnovers) also made life difficult for Penncrest’s skill players.

Marco D’Alicandro stood tall in the cage, stopping five shots.

Evan Kostack and Wagner each finished with four goals. Jack Murray supplied a goal and two assists, while Ryan Gorman chipped in with a goal and an assist. Ryan Keating dished a pair of helpers.

“You kind of take a step back when you pump in 10, 11 goals in the first quarter,” Merchant said. “I think our juniors and seniors, as well as some of our sophomores and freshmen, took what we worked on all week in practice and implemented it today. I’m just extremely proud of our guys. It was a great team effort on our behalf and I think our guys came out ready to play today.”

Meile had two goals to lead the Lions (9-10).



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