The State College boys’ lacrosse team just could not get rolling.
The Little Lions fell into an early hole, and every time they would score a goal, Mount Lebanon had an answer.
It meant an end to their season.
The Blue Devils defense kept State College away from the net and walked away with an 8-5 win in the PIAA first-round game at Cumberland Valley High School on Wednesday.
“It just felt like we were constantly searching for something,” State College coach Jeff King said. “We just could not play the game we were used to playing.”
It just felt like we were constantly searching for something.
State College coach Jeff King
Mount Lebanon (15-7) heads to the quarterfinals on Saturday, facing either Manheim Township or North Allegheny, while the season ends for the Little Lions (11-7).
Dan Lee and Connor Brumfield netted two goals each while Brian Ward had a goal and three assists to lead Mount Lebanon. Patrick McAnally, Kenny Giarla and Nathan Bashaw had the other scores.
Jon Seighman’s two goals and Ryan Franks’ one goal and one assist paced State College, with Dylan Horne and Will Harvey also hitting the net and Jack Sheehan picking up an assist.
Jacob Sharp made 11 saves in the Blue Devil goal, but the defense in front of him made it much easier on the sophomore keeper, denying the Little Lions before they could even get a shot off.
“Our defense is strong,” said Mount Lebanon coach Mike Ermer, whose team held a 35-26 shot advantage. “We’ve got some upperclassmen down there — it’s stocked by two juniors, two seniors and a sophomore — and they’ve been real solid for us all year.”
Ermer’s team also held the momentum for much of the game, winning faceoffs and scooping up the loose balls.
“They out-groundballed us big time,” King said. “I don’t think we won a faceoff until end of the first half.”
That played a big role in the Little Lions’ inability to rally.
A goal from Ward and two from Brumfield gave the Devils a 3-0 lead with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
“That’s always big,” Ermer said. “We were coming off a very, very poor shooting performance on Friday (against North Allegheny in the District 7 final), so to get a little confidence behind ourselves … to be able to get a few early and get rid of the skeletons in our closet from Friday is very nice.”
Back-to-back goals from Seighman, the first in the final seconds of the first quarter and the other 3:39 into the second, pulled State College to within a goal.
But not being able to win faceoffs squelched any more of a comeback.
Lee scored a little later in the second quarter, then again early in the third. It took the margin to four goals, and it was never again less than three.
“We did not seem to have it,” said King, whose team won its PIAA opener a year ago against North Allegheny. “Something just didn’t feel right today. And credit their game plan of shutting off … (leading scorer) Will Harvey, our best player.”
The highlight goal for the Little Lions was scored with 3:24 left in the third, when Sharp had made a save and took a few steps forward away from the net. Horne reached in from the side with his stick to knock the ball out of Sharp’s basket. Horne then quickly scooped up the ball and drilled it into the empty net.
But again, State College could not sustain the momentum as the teams traded goals the rest of the way.
“I don’t think we challenged their goalie enough with shots,” King said. “They outshot us by quite a bit.”
In his final game, goalie Noah Schwab made 15 saves, including a couple tough stops from close range, to give his team a chance.
“Noah had a pretty good game, had some good saves,” King said. “As he’s done all season and pretty much all four years he’s played for us.”