After its run for a WPIAL championship ended with a 12-5 loss to Pine-Richland, the Mt. Lebanon boys lacrosse team embarked on its quest for the PIAA title by edging Palmyra, 10-9, in a rain-shortened match at Mechanicsburg. The Cougars finished the season at 20-3.

The first-round state playoff game was called with 9:02 remaining in the fourth quarter after a long weather delay.

“The outcome is not without some controversy,” said Lebo head coach Mike Ermer. “It’s not how we want to win and the Palmyra boys deserved better, but the school has been on both sides of the rule.”

According to Ermer, in 2013, the WPIAL girls semifinal was called because of weather with Lebo losing to Shady Side Academy.

In Lebo’s win, John Sramac registered a hat trick and contributed two assists. Brodie Campbell pitched in with two goals while Daniel Kovalan, Ryan Kosmer, Jack Sullivan, Ben Sombar and Matt Vines completed the scoring with solo goals. Nickolas and Blake Nelson added an assist as did Sullivan.

Lebo jumped off to a 3-0 advantage and relied on Ryan Pochek to contain Palmyra’s all-American attacker and Tucker Welsh to handle the shots on goal. The junior was credited with 15 saves.

“Our defense played pretty well, particularly Ryan,” said Ermer. “We got off the bus and jumped on them, but Palmyra is well coached and battled back.”

Ermer cited Adam Marks as the neutralizer.

“He did a great job at the face-off X to help keep things under control,” Ermer said.

Ermer was also pleased with how the Blue Devils responded after losing to the Rams in the WPIAL finals played May 24 at Joe Walton Stadium on the Robert Morris University campus.

Though Lebo took a 2-1 lead on goals from Nelson and Sramac, Dane Dowiak took over. The two-time all-American attacker had a hat trick before halftime. His two quick scores powered a 4-0 run and led the Rams to an 8-3 lead at intermission. Dayne Goltz and Will Harnick scored two goals each for the Rams.

“The WPIAL championship game was a disappointing effort,” Ermer said. “The boys know they did not bring their best game to RMU, but one of the great things about the PIAA tournament is the redemptive aspect. The boys showed up focused and ready to go against Palmyra. They are not yet willing to end the season.”

The Blue Devils (14-7) were scheduled to play Radnor (17-6) June 1 at Mechanicsburg in the second round of the PIAA playoffs. The game was played after press time.

Girls

In PIAA girls first-round playoff action, Upper St. Clair dropped a 25-7 decision to Garnet Valley at Panzer Stadium on the Penn State University campus. With the loss, the Panthers finished 16-3 overall. They were the WPIAL runners-up and section champions.

Several players achieved personal milestones.

Aria Deitrick now has more than 200 saves. Haley Newton scored 51 goals (the most a freshman has scored on varsity for girls lacrosse). She and her sister, Lindsay, have won a total of 50 games on varsity throughout their years at USC.

Meanwhile, the Lebo girls team ended its season, falling to Pine-Richland, 9-7, in the WPIAL consolation match.

The Blue Devils had lost to eventual WPIAL champion, Shady Side Academy, 7-5. Emmy Lau proved the difference in the semifinal loss as the Brown recruit exploded for four goals and one assist.

“Emmy is a great player. A four-year starter that is very good at draw controls and she beat us a lot,” said Lebo head coach Brian Kattan.

Fate also did not favor the Blue Devils. They hit the post four times.

“We played well, but in a game like this you have to make every possession count,” Kattan said. “We played hard and we did not give up.

“Shadyside is a good team and they are coached very well but we were unlucky and we fell behind big in the first half.”

Lebo fell behind, 3-1, and trailed at intermission, 4-2. The Blue Devils slipped back further, 6-3, before scoring twice on goals from Maddie Reisinger and Lainey Donaldson in the final nine minutes.

Emelia Krakora initiated the scoring, giving Lebo a brief 1-0 lead one minute into the contest. Cara Lynch made it 4-2 with 33.2 left in the first half. Reagan Murdoch made it 6-3 with 16:34 to play.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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