La Salle overwhelms Great Valley

Posted: May 31, 2012

After a year hiatus from the state lacrosse tournament, La Salle returned with a performance that coach Bill Leahy classified as "surgical."

The more casual spectator might have gone with dominant, overwhelming, or just plain awesome.

La Salle simply did not do much, if anything, wrong en route to a 16-4 drubbing of Great Valley in the first round of the PIAA championships Wednesday at Plymouth Whitemarsh.

Great Valley (14-10), which had a fine season that included a run to the District 1 semifinals before injuries and tougher competition caught up with it, had no answer for La Salle (18-4) in every phase.

The Explorers outshot the Patriots by 10 and held them without a shot in the fourth quarter. The Explorers controlled the draw circle for an 18-4 advantage in face-offs. They stifled the Patriots on defense, holding Great Valley scoreless over the final 20 minutes, 7 seconds.

La Salle, ranked 23d in the nation by ESPNHS, also looked unstoppable on offense, with five players scoring at least two goals. Junior Matt Rambo notched four goals and three assists, and Sean Coleman and Adam Schaal recorded hat tricks.

"I thought today was very surgical," Leahy said. "We faced off well, shot the ball progressively better. On offense, our off-the-ball motion was very good. Our defense held the fort down - four goals. That's just all good."

La Salle, the Catholic League and District 12 champion, advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal against the winner of Wednesday night's game between Downingtown West and District 3's Ephrata.

Wednesday, the Explorers did the bulk of their damage in the third quarter, netting seven goals in the final 6 minutes, 29 seconds of the period to push a three-goal lead to a 10-goal gulf.

"I think we got worn out," Great Valley coach Tony Verna said. "They can roll two and three lines. I roll one with a sub or two. But make no mistake, that's a team with great shooters. I don't want to take anything away from them."

Rambo's goal with 10:04 remaining gave La Salle a 12-goal advantage, putting the running-clock mercy rule into effect.

La Salle, the 2009 PIAA champion and 2010 runner-up, has won seven straight since falling to top-ranked Conestoga by a goal at the beginning of the month. The Explorers' four losses this season have come against nationally ranked opponents, but they barely eked out a 8-7 victory over St. Joseph's Prep to win the PCL title last week.

A loss in that game would have ended the Explorers' season, just as it did a year ago against the same opponent.

"When we played the Prep two games ago . . . we were trying to do everything ourselves," Rambo said. "Even I was just trying mainly to hold the ball and take it myself. I'm sure there were other people doing the same thing.

"But this game, we really moved the ball and worked the ball. That's when we're at our best."

Great Valley   1 2 1 0 – 4

La Salle   4 3 7 2 – 16

Goals: GV-Greg Merrill, Dillan Buettner, Tyler Haines 2; LS-Matt Rambo 4, Sean Coleman 3, Adam Schaal 3, Adam Stefanowicz 2, Mitch Soufleris 2, Brian McNamara, Pete Auteri.

Saves: GV-Peter Hayes 8; LS-Corey Shaffer 6.


Contact Evan Burgos at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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