Freeport boys lacrosse going ‘crazy’ in WPIAL Class AA playoffs

Sunday, May 19, 2019 | 4:48 PM

The Freeport football team has had its share of success. The soccer and basketball programs are postseason regulars and not enough can be said about the girls volleyball team with its four WPIAL titles and 2017 state championship.

While nearly every sport at Freeport was flourishing, one team was laying low, minding its business and waiting for its time to come.

The Freeport boys lacrosse team signaled its arrival last Thursday when senior attacker Sean Fennell buried a shot past Moon goalkeeper with about 3 minutes, 30 seconds remaining as the No. 12 Yellowjackets upset the No. 4 Tigers, 7-6, in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals. The win put the lacrosse team into the semifinals for the first time in its five-year history.

“It was real exciting to actually be beating those teams that have older programs with us being a younger program,” said Fennell, a Marietta commit. “My freshman year, we didn’t make the playoffs. Sophomore year, we made playoffs and every year we’ve made it further and further into the playoffs. You can just tell that it’s getting better and better.”

The Yellowjackets reacted to the historic victory the way one might think.

“The team went crazy, and they went and got their goalie (Greg Smith),” Freeport coach Dave Riley said. “There was a big pile, and sticks were flying everywhere.

“I preached to them they were making a little history. I told them to be proud that we’re beating teams in Chartiers Valley and Moon that are bigger (numbers-wise) than us.”

The celebration carried over onto the bus, setting the scene for a rowdy ride back to campus.

“It was awesome,” senior midfielder Garret Schaffhauser said. “We were blasting music in the back of the bus and even coach was dancing in the front of the bus.”

Freeport (9-7) had finally gotten over the hump.

The beehive was filled with emotion last week. Freeport had another roller-coaster victory in overtime against No. 5 Chartiers Valley, 11-10, in the first round.

“I just don’t think people appreciate or understand what a big accomplishment it is for such a young program do to as well as they have this year,” Riley said.

Now, things get interesting. Riley has to find a way to refocus his players as they face top-seeded Mars — winners of the past three WPIAL championships — at 6 p.m. Monday at Fox Chapel.

The Yellowjackets know all about Mars (16-3). The Planets and Yellowjackets are Section 1-AA opponents. The Planets dominated Freeport, 19-5, in their only regular-season meeting this year.

“When we played them the first time this year, I think we maybe won one faceoff,” Riley said. “They make a goal and they would get the ball right back. I got some things in mind.”

The first thing will be to eliminate penalties. Riley said the Yellowjackets often beat themselves with penalties.

“Out of those seven losses, four of them were (true) losses,” said Riley. “The other team didn’t win it. It took us awhile to be disciplined and getting in check.”

Which has made the Yellowjackets one of the toughest teams in the Class AA bracket: just ask Moon and Chartiers Valley.

“It’s their grit and determination, they don’t want to lose,” Riley said. “They don’t give up.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.


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