Mars boys claim 4th straight WPIAL Class AA championship
Friday, May 24, 2019 | 9:56 PM
Although the scene and the outcome were the same for the third time in four years, the feeling of this matchup was different this time around.
The Fightin’ Planets had lost 18 seniors to graduation and Hampton was looking stronger than in years past. The Talbots boasted a record of 17-2 and outscored opponents 266-67.
“This was definitely a different kind of feeling,” Mars coach Bob Marcoux said. “Last year, we knew we had a pretty decided advantage, and this year we knew it was going to be a battle, so absolutely there was a different type of feeling.”
A battle was exactly what the Fightin’ Planets got, and although the feeling around the game was different, Mars was still able to come out on top in extra time.
After a timeout with just under two minutes remaining in overtime, Mars attacker Mike Doyle, who scored more than 100 goals this season, started with the ball behind the Hampton net. He juked to the middle of the field and hit teammate Chris Sicher with a pass to the left side of the goal.
“I said it in the huddle right before it that I was going to dodge it early, and you gotta bang this goal for me,” Doyle said.
As Sicher received the pass, there was only one thing going through his head.
“Bury it,” Sicher said. “I had been going high all game long, and I knew if I went low he wouldn’t be expecting it, and it worked.”
Sicher buried his shot from 10 yards out just like he wanted, low and into the back of the net, and gave Mars another WPIAL championship.
“This is what we busted our backs for in every game; we knew we’d be in this position,” Sicher said. “Hampton played a heck of a game, but at the same time we were the more experienced team, and we were comfortable in OT, and I think that’s why we came out on top.”
Although the Fightin’ Planets came out on top, the Talbots gave them the exact battle they were expecting. Unlike past years, Hampton led until Sicher’s third goal of the game. The Talbots held a two-goal lead on six different occasions, with the first one coming in the first five minutes.
Playing from behind never phased Mars because it had been in the exact same position earlier in the year. Hampton held a 4-1 lead over Mars earlier in the season, and the Fightin Planets escaped with an 11-9 victory. So, when it came down to being patient, Marcoux and his squad were ready.
“We prepared for that; we knew they were good on face-offs, that they were really patient and they tend to jump out to quick leads,” Marcoux said. “So, we told the guys, keep fighting, keep battling, stick to the game plan and hopefully we would win it in the fourth quarter. It just took a little longer than we wanted.”
Hampton held a lead until Mars attacker Wes Scurci scored his second goal of the game with 23 seconds left in the third quarter to tie it 6-6. Although the Talbots took a two-goal lead with just over 7 minutes to play, the Fightin’ Planets continued to scratch and claw until Jacob Caringola tied the game for the final time with 1:52 remaining in regulation.
Both teams move onto the PIAA tournament, with first-round games set for Tuesday
“We don’t need any turnaround time,” Sicher said. “We’re ready to go. This is just the prelude to the states, and we are readier than we have ever been.”
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