Kiefer’s clutch goals lift Franklin Regional over Shaler in WPIAL boys lacrosse playoffs

Monday, May 17, 2021 | 9:11 PM

Jack Kiefer never saw his golden goal hit the back of the net.

What he did see was a mob of teammates running at him, which gave him assurance he had propelled Franklin Regional to victory.

Kiefer scored with 51.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give the eighth-seeded Panthers an 8-7 win over visiting Shaler in the first round of the WPIAL Class 2A lacrosse playoffs Monday night.

Franklin Regional advanced to play at top-seeded Mars in the quarterfinals at 8 p.m. Wednesday

The overtime tally capped a hat trick for Kiefer, a senior, and ended an entertaining, back-and-forth affair.

“We had another play designed to go to another one of our midfielders Tyler (Reich), but it didn’t work out, but we settled down and moved the ball. Then our offensive coordinator Coach Alex (Balkishun) called for me to dodge from behind the net,” Kiefer said. “That entire game I had kind of had that defender’s number, and my confidence was rising. Once I got the ball, I knew I could take him 1-on-1 and win this game for us.”

Kiefer also scored in the final minute of regulation to get the game to overtime after Jacob Demchsin gave Shaler a 7-6 lead with about 90 seconds left.

Prior to the Kiefer’s winner, Shaler got possession off the draw to start overtime and produced a scoring chance from close range, but Panthers goalie Kyle Albright made a save.

“We wanted to rely on our seniors there, and they came up big there in overtime,” Panthers coach Justin Meenan said. “Kyle made a great save in overtime, and Jack made a big play for us when it really counted. It was nice to see them battle through and have the resolve to not lose sight down a goal with a minute left. They still fought and found a way to pull through.”

Neither team led by more than two goals, and there were eight ties or lead changes.

The score was 2-2 at halftime.

Shaler struck first in the third quarter on a goal from Cordin Sidlick, but Kiefer tied it with this first goal.

Franklin Regional got a boost when long pole defender Liam Kruck went the length of the field with the ball and capitalized by scoring off a give-and-go pass with Cole Vollero. It gave the Panthers a 5-3 lead.

“It happens, but it’s not that common,” Meenan said of Kruck’s goal. “You may see five or so plays like that a year. It was good to see.”

Dominic Landolina scored two goals and had three assists for Shaler.

The Titans controlled possession for the majority of the first quarter, but only scored once thanks to some strong goaltending from Albright. He made four saves in the first.

“I’ve been playing with Kyle since the fourth grade. He’s a tremendous goalie,” Kiefer said.”I’m so fortunate to have Kyle to go up against every single practice, because he makes our entire team better. I had all my faith in Kyle that he was going to stand tall for us in the cage.”

Joey Rivardo scored twice for the Panthers and Ethan Baer and Haroon Nelson had a goal each.

Demchsin had a pair of goals for the Titans. Todd Siford, Cordin Sidick, and Tyler Evangelista scored once.

“It was a good game, and it was fun to watch for sure,” Meenan said. “It was tight the entire way, and we’re happy we were able to come out on top of it.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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