Perkiomen Valley boys lacrosse doubles down, hustles past Coatesville in District 1-3A first round

GRATERFORD >> Sometimes, the shots just aren’t going.

Some nights, the offense struggles to get into a rhythm, and the breaks – hitting a post here, an extraordinary save there – don’t go your way.

In playoff lacrosse, you’ve got two choices on those nights – wait until next year, or double down on your defensive effort.

Perkiomen Valley chose the latter on Tuesday night, making the hustle plays, getting to the ground balls, and riding a dozen saves from junior goalie Sam Dogonniuck to a 7-6 win in their District 1 Class 3A opener against an undermanned, but determined Coatesville squad.

There was just enough offense for the Vikings (12-8), who played without high-scoring attackman Shea Fusco. Bryce Coletta had two goals and an assist, while Brad Curci added one of each.

But it was those so-called ‘little things’ that turned into determining factors. Senior Noah Delo took all but one faceoff and went 12-for-16, giving Perkiomen Valley the edge in possession.

When Coatesville was able to claim the ball, a relentless ride and dogged work in the defensive midfield kept the Red Raiders offense silent for extended periods.

Perkiomen Valley midfielder Patrick Lamirande (8) clashes with Coatesville midfielder Stevie Evans (24) during the opening round of the District 1-3A boys lacrosse tournament at Keenan Stadium on May 16. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

In the decisive fourth quarter, Dogonniuck left briefly with an injury after taking a shot off the thigh, but after Coatesville closed within one, he returned to make two huge saves, including one of the stops of the night on Coatesville’s leading scorer, Seton Hill-bound senior Owen Ellis (two goals, two assists).

“I’m not worried in that moment about getting myself back in there,” Dogonniuck said. “I’m cheering on (backup goalie Jack) Leddy, and when my name is called, I just want to make plays.”

Defensive midfielder Ryan Klimek, playing his first season of high school lacrosse, personified Perkiomen Valley’s matching of Coatesville’s physicality in the second half.

Klimek claimed several crucial ground balls and delivered a pair of bone-crunching hits reminiscent of the past couple falls when he starred as an All-Area running back for the Vikings’ football team.

“Playing football, you’re ready to bring that level of physicality to the field,” Klimek said. “I’m a defensive middie, I know I don’t have the best stick skills. But I can use my speed and physicality to counteract that.”

Perkiomen Valley short stick defensive midfielder Ryan Klimek, right, pushes the ball out of Vikings territory past Coatesville’s Stevie Evans, left, during the opening round of the District 1-3A boys lacrosse tournament at Keenan Stadium on May 16. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

Aside from his work at the faceoff stripe, Delo’s second-quarter scoop and score gave Perkiomen Valley its first lead at 2-1.

For a team that struggled offensively in last week’s PAC title game, the play gave the Vikings a burst of energy, and Curci’s tally followed a minute later for a 3-1 advantage.

“We play games where team push, push, push in transition,” Delo said. “Tonight, we’re letting it come to us a little more. Don’t get flustered, settle things down.”

Perkiomen Valley’s turned the game in its favor with a 4-0 run in the third quarter and first minute of the fourth during which they forced five Coatesville turnovers, led by Vance Junker’s stick check that led to Jackson Baker’s goal on the other end for a 6-4 Vikings lead.

“We are a second-half team,” Junker said. “We know that, so we’re not phased when we go into halftime trailing anymore.”

Coatesville midfielder Magnus Clouser (14) winds back to make a pass past Perkiomen Valley’s Matt Horgan (13) during the opening round of the District 1-3A boys lacrosse tournament at Keenan Stadium on May 16. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

There’s no rest for weary this time of year, and Perkiomen Valley now prepares for a second-round showdown on Thursday at No. 2 seed Springfield-Delco.

Coatesville’s 2023 season ends at a mark of 12-7, but future generations of Red Raiders can bookmark this year’s crew as the squad that gave the program its footing.

Tuesday night marked the first District playoff appearance in Coatesville’s program history. Boys’ lacrosse became a varsity sport at the school in 2021, and this season featured victories over Bishop Shanahan – two-time state champions at 2A in 2018 and 2019 – and strong Ches-Mont programs including Downingtown West and West Chester East.

None of that was much consolation to coach Dan Ellis on Tuesday night, however.

“In a week, maybe longer, I’ll look back with pride. But it’s painful right now,” Ellis said. “Between myself and my assistants, we’ve coached these kids since they were in third, fourth grade. It’s a testament to program-building. We surprised a lot of people this year.”

Ellis added, “We might not have the most talented team. We don’t have a bunch of Division I players. But this senior class has shown the younger kids the right way to play. They work and work. Our kids are relentless.”

Perkiomen Valley attack Bradley Curci (25) leaps up to receive a pass between Coatesville defenders during the opening round of the District 1-3A boys lacrosse tournament at Keenan Stadium on May 16. (Evan Wheaton – MediaNews Group)

Ellis’ counterpart on the Perkiomen Valley sideline, Bryan Churchey, was the first to testify to the difficulty of competing with the Red Raiders.

Churchey was effusive in his praise for his opponents.

“(Ellis) and his staff deserve more credit than I can explain,” Churchey said. “He built that program, truly, from the ground up. It’s never easy to build a program, and I’d say it’s 10 times harder when you’re starting from scratch.”

Perkiomen Valley 7, Coatesville 6


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Coatesville: Owen Ellis 2 goals, 2 assists; Josh Van Orden 2 goals, assist; Jake Van Orden goal; Bryce Kerrigan goal; Derek Cooper assist; Dax Shallis 11 saves.
Perkiomen Valley: Bryce Coletta 2 goals, assist; Brad Curci goal, assist; Matt Horgan goal; Jackson Baker goal; Patrick Lamirande goal; Noah Delo goal, 12/16 FOs; Jacob Rotay 2 assists; Luke Hanlon assist; Sam Dogonniuck 12 saves.

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