Mt. Lebanon doubles fun in lacrosse

Published May 31, 2014 at 7:14 pm (Updated May 31, 2014 at 7:14 pm)

Mt. Lebanon doubled its pleasure in the PIAA tournament, advancing both its girls’ and boys’ lacrosse teams to the state semifinals with back-to-back victories in quarterfinal matches at Moon Stadium.

The teams played a doubleheader last night at Cumberland Valley High School. The girls battled Garnett Valley while the boys faced off against Penn Crest.

To reach the Final Four, the Lebo ladies defeated Quaker Valley, 12-8, to extend their undefeated season to 22-0. The Blue Devils had beaten the Quakers back on 23 to clinch the WPIAL title.

The Lebo men (14-9) avenged their WPIAL defeat to Shady Side Academy by using a strong defensive effort to post a 7-6 victory in the rematch. Until seven minutes remained in the contest, they held Dan Marous scoreless. The Notre Dame recruit scored 50 goals this spring. He also had a hat trick in Lebo’s 7-2 loss in the district final.

Senior Tim Donoghue drew the assignment of defending Marous, a four-sport athlete at Shady Side, competing in football, soccer and basketball as well as lacrosse. Marous scored back-to-back goals at the 7:31 and 4:47 marks in the fourth frame to cut Lebo’s three-tally edge to the one-goal margin.

“Tim was outstanding,” agreed Lebo head coach Mike Ermer. “My defense as a whole played real well.

In addition to Preston Chamberlin, Charlie Cappucci provided strong play on defense. Ean Cafaro contributed as well.

Ermer cited Cappucci adding, “he has given us quality minutes all year but he was asked to do more and he was outstanding.”

In the nets, Matthew Lee was outstanding. The junior faced 16 shots on goal. He was credited with nine saves, including six in the third quarter. No save was bigger than the one Lee made on Marous with 56 seconds to play. The stop insured Lebo’s third trip to the Final Four in four seasons.

Assistant coach Justin Meenan knew Lee would be outstanding. He told Ermer that he had a feeling the junior goalie would play well.

“He was seeing the ball real well,” Ermer said. “Matt has really come along in his consistency.”

While Ermer was elated with his defense, he was equally thrilled with his offense. Lebo jumped off to a quick, 3-0, start on a pair of goals from Brian Ward and a tally from Dan Lee in the first 10 minutes of action. Lou Lucerne assisted two scores.

Though Shady Side cut the margin to one, 3-2, at the start of the second stanza, Lee and Ward racked up goals to push Lebo’s advantage back to three, 5-2. The Blue Devils led, 5-3, at intermission.

Owen Chamberlin, off an assist from Brian Kelly, and Sam White, off a dish from Dan Lee, gave Lebo its largest lead, 7-3, with 3:24 to play in the third quarter.

“We try to make sure we have balance and that makes us unpredictable on offense,” said Ermer of the Blue Devils’ output. “It leads to a lot of scorers.”

Marous led to Shady Side’s scoring uprising. He assisted on Peter McDonagh’s tally with 54 seconds to play in the third quarter before racking up the two scores in a final frame, controlled by the Indians. Marous, McDonagh and Bobby Woodings all had two goals each for the Indians.

“A lot of credit goes to Shady Side Academy,” Ermer said. “They battled for control on every face-off and ground ball.”

Ermer also credits the community for Lebo’s surge in lacrosse and state semifinal presence of not only the boys’ club but the girls’ team.

“It’s a testament to our youth programs,” he said. “It’s exciting. There is a lacrosse culture in Mt. Lebanon. We are reaping the benefits of a strong youth program with outstanding coaches.”

Albers leads ladies

Brian Kattan is the outstanding coach of the girls’ team, which is experiencing a historic season. After winning their first-ever state playoff game, the Lebo ladies find themselves in the semifinals for the first time by virtue of their win against Quaker Valley.

“It’s been great,” Kattan said of the 2014 campaign. “Before season, the goal was the WPIAL. Undefeated was gravy. We’ve had a great season no matter what happens. They have done all that we have asked of them.”

Anna Albers didn’t have to be asked when she rallied the Blue Devils on two occasions against the Quakers.

With 1:03 left in the first half, Lebo found itself behind, 6-5, when Albers scored the equalizer with 39.2 to play. Becca Walsh, off an assist from Alyssa Battaglia, gave Lebo a 7-6 advantage heading into the locker room at intermission.

After QV again knotted the game, 7-7, at the 20:09 mark in the third frame, Albers responded. She scored twice to complete her hat trick while Battaglia managed her four tally.

Of the first time Lebo fell behind, Albers said, “I was real worried. Super nervous.

But I know that we can come back. We like being in that position. It makes us competitive. It fires us up more.”

The Quakers’ second equalizer served as motivation for the Blue Devils.

“When they tied it again, it gave us a lot of drive,” said Albers, a sophomore. “We got into the zone. The goals uplifted our spirits and pushed us to win. We got on that ‘crosse’ high’ and that pushed us.”

Lebo pushed the pace early. The Blue Devils opened up a 3-0 lead five minutes into the game on a pair of goals from Battaglia, who finished with six, two more in the final frame, and a tally from Welsh.

Allena Holzworth provided a tally with 4:59 to play in the second stanza. The score gave Lebo a 5-4 lead before the match see-sawed, setting the stage for Albers and Welsh.

“Those two goals before the half were very important,” Albers said. “They were great goals and got us in the right frame of mind for the second half.”

Albers’ frame of mind is always positive. She says that she and her teammates adopt a ‘no-fear’ attitude on the field. “The best way to play,” she said, “is to have fun and play your best.”

Kattan agreed. “Go out and have fun. Give 100 percent. That’s our attitude. If I gave all I had and I had fun, then that’s all that matters. Things work out their own way in the end.

“We go out and have fun. We don’t get too upset with each other or ourselves when things don’t go our way, like falling behind. We played even and that was a key.”

Those secrets to success will continue to propel the Lebo ladies as they advance through the tournament. Of their historic run, with the first state win and now the second, Albers said. “It’s amazing. Exciting,” she added. “We’ll use it to drive us the rest of the season. It’s all about having fun.”

Lebo beats ECP

In PIAA opening action, the Lebo men had their share of fun against Erie Cathedral Prep. The Blue Devils posted a 19-6 win against the Ramblers. The triumph came on the heels of Lebo’s WPIAL defeat to Shady Side.

“It was nice to get that los behind us,” Ermer said “Sixteen teams make the state tournament, all but one ends its season in disappointment so we have to keep on working.”

Lebo worked especially hard in the third quarter. The Blue Devils exploded for nine tallies.

“The third quarter definitely turned the tide of the game,” Ermer said. “We had a talk with the boys about their focus at halftime and the guys really turned it on in the third.”

For the Blue Devils, Brian Ward fired in four goals. Brian Kelly and Dan Lee each recorded hat tricks.

While Sam White racked up two goals, Owen Chamberlin, Brendan White, Brennan Wells, Connor Brumfield and Owen Meyers each tacked on a tally. Chamberlin dished up two assists, Brumfield, one.

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