RADNOR — A loss in the District 1 final behind, a chance to win another state championship ahead, and a week to figure it all out in the moment, the Radnor boys lacrosse team recently had been confronted by two choices.
The option to remain deflated was quickly rejected. The other, regrouping to prepare for Dallastown in the opening round of the Class 3A state playoffs, would take work.
For that, coach John Beiger would unravel a bit of a to-do list. It wasn’t brief.
“We had things to do to get better,” he said. “Whether it’s clearing, whether it’s the faceoff circle, whether it is our six-on-six offense, or defense, we had to make good use of the time.”
By Tuesday, when the Raptors would eliminate the Wildcats, 16-3, it was clear that the week was well spent. With an attention-grabbing 17-2 record, Dallastown showed up with a willingness to be physical, flashed good goalkeeping and was deeply involved early. Its problem: The twice-running state champion 20-3 Raptors would uncork one of their most well-rounded games of the year to win a spot in the quarterfinals Saturday against 17-4 Wissahickon.
Max Goldstein scored a hat trick, and Colin French, Nate Lucchesi, Mason Montrella, Tommy DeShan and Jackson Gaffney added two goals apiece to help eliminate the after-taste of the 10-8 district title loss to Springfield. Owen Knight, Carter Mountain and Reed Gall each tabbed a goal, with Knight and Montrella both supplying a pair of assists.
“Our whole offensive group just loves playing together,” Beiger said. “They have played together for years and all of them can score. All of them are happy when their buddies score. Nobody is trying to get theirs.”
Right on schedule, that helped the Raptors trend hot at the start of the big tournament.
“Everyone here knows that at this time of the year it is the real deal,” Goldstein said. “If you lose, you will never play with your boys again. And having won the state championship the last two years, we definitely know what the playoffs are about.”
The Raptors struck quickly, Goldstein scoring 3:18 into the game. But Dallastown responded 43 seconds later on the first of two goals by Griffin Pickett. With that, the Wildcats continued to stir, but just 43 seconds later a nice block from Radnor goalie Nick DeCain had a settling effect.
“Nick played really well for us,” Beiger said. “They definitely got some good shots. That’s a really strong team and I like way they play on offense. They are very unselfish, so they got some quality looks on us. But I thought Nick made a bunch of point-blank shots that made a difference in the game and allowed us to keep some distance there.”
By halftime, the Raptors had an 8-2 lead, which would balloon to 15-2 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We definitely wanted to come out and make a statement,” Goldstein said. “We had some injures, but after the tough loss to Springfield, we just wanted to get back after it and show that we are not going anywhere and you are going to have to work hard to beat us.”
Caleb Fox mixed in a second-quarter goal for the Wildcats, who caught the Raptors at the wrong time.
“We just got after it, honestly,” Goldstein said. “We worked as hard as we possibly could at practice and everyone knows we have to be dialed in, because a loss like that can’t happen again.
“We are definitely going to see some good opponents coming up. So we just have to look to our next practice and our next game and we know we have to keep getting better. I don’t think we are peaking yet. We just want to peak right at the last game.”