The State College boys’ lacrosse team faced another early deficit and made another comeback in the PIAA tournament.
But this time, the Little Lions’ rally fell short in a 9-7 loss to Cumberland Valley in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Lower Dauphin Middle School. The Little Lions trailed by four goals in the first half and went into the fourth quarter down by four before showing some life.
State College pulled within one on Kevin Reid’s goal with 4:27 to play, but the Little Lions never got any closer and saw their season come to an end.
“I’m really going to miss seeing the seniors around,” State College coach Jeff King said. “They’ve been in our program for — some of them were in our youth program all the way through.
“They’re in there, they’re feeling sad, they’re feeling down and out because for a lot of them that was their last lacrosse game.”
They helped the Little Lions earn their first-ever PIAA victory with a 7-6, double-overtime win over North Allegheny in the first round.
And they challenged the Eagles, who advance to face St. Joseph’s Prep in the state semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. St. Joseph’s beat Manheim Township 15-7 in a quarterfinal matchup Saturday.
State College trailed 3-1 after the first quarter against its Mid Penn Conference rival.
Rod Jamieson and C.J. Sherlock each scored on extra-man opportunities to give the Eagles’ the two-goal lead. Cumberland Valley controlled possession for much of the first half and pushed its lead to 5-1 after goals by Jamieson and John Miller early in the second quarter.
“We knew we needed to get ahead and we needed to defend that because there’s no way they were gonna stop,” Cumberland Valley coach A.J. Bogaczyk said.
State College faced the same deficit in the first half against North Allegheny in the first round Wednesday. The Little Lions stayed within striking distance and rallied again Saturday in the fourth quarter.
Cumberland Valley took a 5-2 lead into halftime and didn’t allow State College to generate any momentum in the third quarter.
Jon Seighman found the back of the net to pull State College within 5-3 with less than five minutes left in the period. Cumberland Valley’s Clayton Miller answered with a goal 28 seconds later.
And John Miller was left wide open for an easy goal to put Cumberland Valley up 7-3 with more than two minutes left in the third.
John Miller finished with three goals, while Clayton Miller, Jamieson and Sherlock each had two to power the Eagles’ offense. But the Cumberland Valley attack stalled as State College started to make its run in the fourth.
“We were playing a little tight, giving them more possessions than I really wanted to,” Bogaczyk said. “And they were just capitalizing on their opportunities.”
State College’s Brady Franks bounced a shot into the upper-left corner of the net in the first minute of the final period to cut the deficit to 7-4. Fifty seconds later, Reid finished a give-and-go with PJ Bachman.
John Miller fired a shot into the upper-left corner of the net to give Cumberland Valley some breathing room, but the Little Lions kept the pressure on the Eagles.
After Bachman scored with less than eight minutes left, State College goalie Noah Schwab turned away a shot from point-blank range by Jamieson. State College’s Paul Olivett cleared the ball over midfield, outrunning Cumberland Valley’s Devon Heckman and John Miller to set up an offensive possession.
The Little Lions worked the ball around before Reid found an open shot and finished to bring his team within 8-7 with 4:27 to go.
But Cumberland Valley responded quickly again.
Sherlock fired a shot past Schwab 19 seconds after Reid’s goal, and Cumberland Valley held off the Little Lions the rest of the way.
King called his team’s fourth-quarter rally a “valiant comeback.”
But it fell just short.
“They left it on the field,” King said. “They played hard and I have no regrets. I think a few bounces one way or the other and the score is 9-8 us. That’s how it goes.”