Luke Iovino lit a fire under his Mt. Lebanon teammates during a tight skirmish with neighboring Peters Township in the WPIAL Class AAA boys lacrosse playoffs.
Iovino ignited a late-third quarter, three-goal explosion that propelled the Blue Devils to a 14-7 victory and into a semifinal showdown with North Allegheny at 8 p.m. May 24 at Canon-McMillan Memorial Stadium in Canonsburg.
“Luke’s a spark plug,” said Lebo head coach Mike Ermer. “The guys rally around him. He’s got an infectious personality. When he gets going, the team gets going.”
With 83 seconds left in the third quarter and Lebo clinging to an 8-6 advantage, Iovino sandwiched a pair of goals in between one from teammate Aidan Conway to widen the gap.
Iovino finished with a hat trick and one assist as the Blue Devils outscored the Indians 6-1 in the final 13 minutes of action.
“Luke’s been a stalwart for us all year,” Ermer said. “He takes a beating but he does it with a smile.”
Iovino wasn’t the only Blue Devil grinning after the victory. The entire squad earned a share in the win against a stubborn opponent.
Fifty-five seconds into the game, PT fell behind, 2-0. The Indians continually came back. On goals from Riley Grudi, Keyan Moser, Ryan Shannon and James Salvitti, PT pulled within one goal twice before Lebo closed out the first half with a 6-4 edge.
“Peters is a good team. A well-disciplined team,” said Ermer. “They had a good game plan.
“I told our guys we have to keep chipping away, chipping away, chipping away and we will get some looks. We hit a lot of pipes in the first half. Their goalie played a great game and we were just lucky to be able to bury some and get some momentum going our way.”
Two goals each from Brodie Campbell, Conway and Ben Sombar energized the Blue Devils as did single goals by Maurice Plummer, Matt Wertz, Jack McCann, John Porretta and Alex Tecza.
Somber had two assists, while Iovino, Conway, McCann and Joe Gibbons collected assists of their own.
“We have been working on our balance,” Ermer said of Lebo’s attack. “We all take ownership.
“We talk about playing Mt. Lebanon lacrosse and within our system. Our system is designed to work the ball through a lot of guys. We don’t have anything designed that says ‘Johnny you shoot now.’ So the guys believe in it. Hopefully it’s coming along. Still work in progress. The system avails ourselves to get a lot of looks from different people.”
PT had five players score goals. Moser finished with two goals for the Indians. Eliot Schratz joined Grudi, Salvitti and Shannon with single goals. Shannon and Brady Knight has assists for the Indians.
Upper St. Clair defeated Pine-Richland, 12-5, at Shady Side Academy to advance to the semifinals in the Class AAA playoffs. The Panthers will face Shady Side Academy, an 18-5 winner against Seneca Valley.
Triston Schaffer led all scorers with eight points including six goals.
Aiden Besselman followed with three goals and four assists.
Brady Erdos, Will King and Rory Zahren each scored a goal. Zahren also went 14-4 on face offs.