Lower Merion >> Defending PIAA 2A boys’ lacrosse state champion Bishop Shanahan, starting six seniors in its PIAA state tourney opener against District 2 runnerup Scranton Prep, came out smoking in its 18-1 victory Tuesday.
During the first 4 1/2 minutes at Harriton High School, the reigning District 1 2A champions got off to a flying start, building a quick 4-0 lead. By halftime the score was 15-0.
Shanahan head coach Jon Heisman said, “Before the game I told them, ‘Four more [games].’ We don’t want to settle for anything less than another [state] title.
“We have nine seniors on this team, they’re mature, and their leadership has been just outstanding. They want that second title in a row, and they don’t let guys falter. In practice, if something comes up, they’re all over people; so everybody’s held accountable. These kids are really tight-knit, too, so that helps us as well.”
With the victory, the Eagles improve to 19-1, their only loss being an 11-10 defeat to Ches-Mont champion West Chester East March 28. Saturday, they will play either District 11 Southern Lehigh or District 12 runner-up Archbishop Carroll (13-8) in the PIAA 2A state quarterfinals. Their game was rained out Tuesday and is scheduled for Wednesday.
Tuesday, senior midfielder Vincent Riccardo scored two of the Eagles’ first four goals to get the Eagles off to a flying start. The Eagles continued to dominate possession in the first half, thanks in part to senior faceoff man Tyler Kingsbury, who has been winning 78 percent of his faceoffs this season. Kingsbury won 13 of 17 first-half faceoffs Tuesday, and by the end of the first quarter, Shanahan built a 7-0 lead.
Whenever Scranton Prep got the ball, the Eagles were doing a pretty good job of getting it back via a turnover or interception.
Senior midfielder Jimmy Bevevino, called “one of the best defensive middies around” by Heisman, reflected on the Eagles’ attitude coming into the state tourney opener.
“The intensity level was definitely in our favor.” said Bevevino. “Colin Gucwa was stripping guys of the ball, getting ground balls, Jack Shimer and Sam Kirk were getting ground balls. They know what to do, they get up to the middies, get our transition going.
“[Senior defender] Connor Whalen and [senior goalie] Nic Pezone help lead our defense. We know that, no matter who we play, if we lose we go home, so we take to heart that we’ve got to go as hard as we can, it’s do or die.”
Early in the second quarter, senior attack Bryan Rafferty scored his third goal of the first half after recovering a Cavalier turnover to make it 9-0. Shortly thereafter, sophomore midfielder Owen Murray tallied his third goal of the game, followed by senior attack Kyle Gucwa’s third and fourth goals of the half, to give the Eagles a 15-0 halftime lead.
Rafferty, Murray, Kyle Gucwa and Riccardo teamed up for 12 of the Eagles’ 15 first-half goals. Joining them on the first-half scoring brigade were senior attack Parker Childs, sophomore midfielder Owen Mehok and Kingsbury, the latter two goals assisted by Rafferty. Seven of the Eagles’ first-half goals were assisted.
“Today was a workmanlike effort,” said Heisman. “We played hard and smart and used our athleticism.”
The Bishop Shanahan roster is dotted with athletic seniors headed to solid college lacrosse programs, including Whalen (University of Maryland), Rafferty (St. Bonaventure), Kyle Gucwa (Manhattan College), Kingsbury (High Point), Bevevino (Catholic University) and senior defender David Shaeffer (Ursinus for lacrosse and football).
In the second half, Shanahan featured a lineup of underclassmen, and the Eagles continued to play aggressively until the end of the game, rocketing shots at the goal whenever an opening appeared. Scranton Prep goalie Kyle Reinher hung in there against the relentless Shanahan attack, recording 12 saves.
Shanahan goal scorers in the second half were junior midfielder Jessie Lynch, sophomore midfielder Brendan Oakes and junior attack Luke Pollick. Eagles’ junior goalie Keegan Billie recorded four saves in the second half.
“They’re our future,” said Heisman of the Eagles’ second-half players. “We were happy with the [second-half] group, they work hard; when they get their opportunities they’re hungry.”
Bishop Shanahan 18, Scranton Prep 1
Scranton Prep 0 0 1 0 – 1
Bishop Shanahan 7 8 1 2 – 18
Scranton Prep goal: Beerman.
Bishop Shanahan goals: Riccardo 2, Rafferty 3, Kingsbury, Childs, Murray 3, Gucwa 4, Mehok, Lynch, Oakes, Pollick.
Goalie saves: SP – Reinher 12; BS – Pezone 1, Billie 4.