Mars cruises past Hampton to win 3rd straight WPIAL Class AA boys lacrosse crown

Friday, May 25, 2018 | 11:07 PM

The third rock from the sun played out of this world. The Mars Fightin' Planets left no doubt in the minds of those in attendance at Robert Morris' Walton Stadium Friday night that they were the best boys lacrosse team in WPIAL Class AA.

The No. 1-seeded Planets played a near flawless 48 minutes to capture their third consecutive WPIAL Class AA boys lacrosse title, rolling past No. 2 Hampton, 17-4.

“I had a feeling (we would play this way) when we came out this way against North Catholic,” Mars coach Bob Marcoux said. “They came out with a purpose, they came out focused and they were ready to roll.”

Mars (17-1) moves on to the PIAA Class AA tournament and will face District 10 champ Erie Cathedral Prep at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at North Allegheny. Hampton (14-6) will meet District 3 runner-up Palmyra at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lower Dauphin.

“We just got run over,” Hampton coach Jim Vollberg said. “It just wasn't a good lacrosse game for us. We just came out flat.”

While Hampton was flat, the Planets were running on high-octane fuel. Senior attacker Brenden Moyer put the Planets on the board with a near-angle goal at the 1-minute, 26-second mark in the first quarter. Moyer finished the game with two goals.

Senior midfielder Dan O'Connell put the Planets up 2-0 when he found the goal from around 12 yards out. Andrew Moyer, Anthony Grieco and Mike Doyle all added goals to run the Mars lead to 5-0 with a little less than 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Tempers began to flare on the Hampton side when Ben Horvat was called for tripping. Giving Mars the man-up advantage was something the Talbots could ill afford, and seconds later Grieco made Hampton pay with his second goal of the game to extend the Planets lead to 6-0. Grieco, Mars' all-time leading scorer, added a fourth-quarter goal to come away with a hat trick.

“The best defense is a good offense,” Marcoux said. “We've got speedy (midfielders) and attackers that can finish.”

The second quarter belonged to senior attacker Cade Hetzler. Hetzler peppered Hampton goalie Rob Voinchet with five goals. The senior scored three goals in the first four minutes.

“We felt coming into this game that we were the better team,” Hetzler said. “I think we played like it, and our confidence was big. I think a lot of people overlook our defense; it was unstoppable tonight.”

Brenden Moyer and Hayden Vasbinder both added goals to run the score up to 13-0 before Hampton's Max Saltrelli finally put one past Mars' goalie Will Scurci with 6 seconds remaining in the first half.

“Will (Scurci) has been on fire all year and to only let in four (goals) in a championship game is unbelievable,” Hetzler said.

The second half started with a “running clock” and was more of the same for the Planets offense. Junior attacker Garrett Reinke scored at the 1:15 mark of the third quarter. Hampton's Ross Andersson scored to cut into the Mars lead at 15-2. Andrew Moyer added his second goal of the game a few minutes later to extend the Planets lead to 16-2. The Talbots' Ryan Stevens scored with a man-up advantage to close the gap to 15-3. The Talbots were 3 for 3 when holding a man-up advantage.

Junior midfielder Chris Sicher put the final touches on the night with an underhand goal to close out the scoring.

“These guys have played with each other since the third grade; they can find each other in their sleep,” Marcoux said. “They got a sixth sense about finding each other on the field.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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