Marple Newtown stops Mars lacrosse’s repeat bid in final seconds of state championship game
Saturday, June 17, 2023 | 6:15 PM
The Mars Fightin’ Planets were looking for history to repeat itself. The Marple Newtown Fightin’ Tigers were looking for revenge.
It was a fight Marple Newtown won, earning an 11-10 comeback victory over Mars in the PIAA Class 2A boys lacrosse championship game Saturday at Penn State.
The Planets and Tigers also fought last season for the title of state champion with Mars coming out victorious, 9-6.
Mars became the first WPIAL boys lacrosse team to play for a state championship in 2021 and was the first District 7 team to win a state championship last year.
The Fightin’ Planets took a 10-8 lead into the fourth quarter and were seemingly dominating the offensive time of possession.
But Marple Newtown came out of nowhere to tie the score. Ryan Keating scored to make it 10-9 before Evan Kostack slid a shot in the left corner to make it 10-10.
The game was slowly coming down to the last minute, as it seemed the next goal would decide the winner.
In an amazing turn of events, with just two seconds left on the clock, Marple Newtown’s Ryan Gorman hit the game-winning shot, granting the Fightin’ Tigers the title of state champions with an 11-10 win.
After starting out strong with a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, Mars saw its repeat bid fall short.
“This was a special group of leaders on the field,” Mars coach Bob Marcoux said. “Those guys can be proud of this team, and they gave us everything that we asked them to give and more.”
Mars’ offense exploded and quickly took control of the game off of the aggressive play of Vincenzo Grieco. The attackman scored twice in the first three minutes to give the Planets a 2-0 lead.
Grieco scored his third goal of the game with 7:44 still left on the clock in the first quarter. The Fightin’ Planets continued their roll with their fourth goal of the quarter, this time from Ben Bowser.
The Tigers couldn’t find a way to stop the Planets’ attackers as they allowed yet another shot through off of Grieco’s stick. Forced to take their first timeout, Marple Newtown found itself down 5-0 a little more than halfway through the first quarter.
“Our offense was clicking today,” Marcoux said, “Lacrosse is a game of possessions. In the first half, we were 100% efficient on offense.”
The Fightin’ Tigers’ offense finally found life late in the quarter as Ryan Gorman put the first goal on the board. However, this wasn’t enough to stop Mars’ offensive run as Ian Coulter scored soon after to give the Planets a 6-1 lead going into the second quarter.
The Fightin’ Tigers struck first in the second quarter with a goal by Robert Wagner, quickly followed by an impressive drive and shot by Joey Yukenavitch. Mars’ intimidating five-goal lead diminished to three within three short minutes.
Despite taking a timeout to try to slow the Tigers’ momentum, the Fightin’ Planets remained on the backfoot as two goals by Marple Newtown’s Brian Box cut the Mars lead to just one at 6-5.
A quick back-and-forth ensued as both teams turned on their engines. Bowser scored once again to further the Planets’ lead, followed directly by a strike by Kostak. Mars’ Ian Edlinger scored and was answered by Keating.
After an impressive 6-2 run in the second quarter, the Fightin’ Tigers clawed back to within one. The teams entered the halftime locker room with Mars leading 8-7.
“We’ve been a second-half team all year,” Marcoux said. “We were pretty confident that if we got the ball that we could score.”
In contrast to the high-scoring first half, neither team was able to break through in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Mars broke the silence off of a great pass-and-score play by Grieco and Coulter, allowing the Planets to gain momentum with a two-goal lead.
Marple Newtown hit right back with two minutes left in the quarter with a goal by Jace Kostak, as the Tigers’ fans shouted encouragement.
With 19 seconds left in the quarter, Grieco beat a double team to score his fifth goal of the game to give Mars a two-goal lead heading into the final 12 minutes. It was the last goal the Planets scored.
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