Little was expected of Mt. Lebanon during the 2019 boys’ lacrosse season, but after finishing among the top two teams in the district and as one of the top eight teams in the state, the Blue Devils have lofty goals for the 2020 campaign.
“Our exit interviews had a pretty consistent message,” Mt. Lebanon head coach Mike Ermer said. “We built a lot of program momentum this season and I want to make sure we don’t lose it moving.
“I was very pleased and proud of this year’s team. On paper, at the beginning of the season, I did not expect to get as far as we did,” he added. “It is a testament to the work ethic and focus of the players and coaches to achieve what we did.”
After winning the section banner, the Blue Devils advanced to the WPIAL finals where they met their match in Pine-Richland, falling to the Rams, 12-5, in the championship match. However, Lebo knocked off District 3 winner Palmyra, 10-9, before falling to Radnor, 13-4, in the state quarterfinals. The Blue Devils finished the season at 14-8 overall.
In the PIAA round of eight contest played June 1 at Mechanicsburg, the Blue Devils played even, 2-2, with Radnor before the state’s third-ranked team exploded for seven goals to take a 9-2 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We were trying to limit their offensive possessions and we stuck to that game plan through the first quarter,” Ermer said. “Radnor’s a good team and they have a very potent offense. They just got rolling.”
While Lebo got back into the swing of things for the second half, the Blue Devils just couldn’t get back in the game.
Lebo bade farewell to a handful of seniors, including midfielders Matt Vines and Zach Nickolas. Both of whom will play NCAA lacrosse at the Division III level. Vines will compete for Clarkson University in New York while Nickolas will play at Centre College in Kentucky.
Daniel Kovalan, Adam Marks and Ryan Kosmer were the other seniors on the squad, which was managed Stevie Passodillis.
“The seniors were a great group of leaders,” Ermer said. “They had a great grasp of when they could have fun and joke around compared to when they needed to tighten the screws and get focused.”
While the senior class set the bar high for the underclassmen, its size enabled the juniors to earn some “leadership stripes” said Ermer. That bodes well for the future, he added.
Expect John Sramac and Tucker Welsh to play pivotal roles for the Blue Devils in 2020. Both juniors earned All-WPIAL acclaim.
Sramac was the team’s offensive MVP while Welsh gained team MVP laurels. An attackman, Sramac was a first-team All-MSLCA pick. A goalie, Welsh was a second-team selection.
The Blue Devils will also rely upon other juniors such as Carter Davidson, Anderson Bareford, Ryan Pochek, Chase Franklin, Simon Mortimer, Theron Turnbull, Reese Austin, Jack Sullivan, Jack Broadhurst, Riley Sohyda and Blake Nelson.
The sophomore class features: Brodie Campbell, Maurice Plummer, Joe Gibbons, Pat Dunn, Keegan Quigley, Joe Simoncelli, Adain Witte, Ben Sombar, Luke Iovino, Ethan Bell, Zachery Sloan and Sam Pellegrino.
Lebo carried nearly a dozen freshman on its varsity roster. The group included: Cooper Austin, Gus Cramer, Alex Tecza, Matthew Wertz, Tom Lee, Brodie Porretta, Jack McCann, Mark Adametz, Own Halter, Charlie Pellegrino and Tiernan Dunne.
“When we hit the ground next March,” Ermer said, “our goal will be the same as always: win our section to make the WPIAL playoffs and see where we can go from there.”