North Allegheny lacrosse rolls past Franklin Regional
By: Nathan Smith
Monday, May 14, 2018 | 9:33 PM
The North Allegheny boys lacrosse team quickly thwarted any hopes of an upset by Franklin Regional.
The Tigers powered their way to a big first-quarter lead and rolled to a 16-1 win over the Panthers in the opening round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
“Whenever you are in the playoffs, you never know what is going to happen,” North Allegheny coach John Rullan said. “We just told our kids they had to show up. And in the first half, we showed up.”
The Tigers (11-7) have won five in a row against the Panthers dating to the 2015 season.
North Allegheny topped Franklin Regional, 18-1, on April 24 during the regular season.
“There is a mental challenge there,” Franklin Regional coach Justin Meenan said. “I think there is a mental aspect we had to try and overcome. But all in all, it is just a game. We should come ready to go.”
In the first minute, Panthers goalkeeper Ethan Johnston made a save, but his pass to midfield was intercepted by Matt Osten. The North Allegheny junior drove upfield and buried a shot to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead 54 seconds in.
The Tigers continued to roar through the first quarter as they built a 7-0 lead.
“We were working on some offensive sets to just get a little better,” Rullan said. “We did throw it around quite a bit. We wanted to work on a few things, and we accomplished that.”
The Panthers (6-8) had some chances early.
A steal allowed Bradley Brinic to push the ball upfield, but his shot was wide left. Adam Renda pulled in a pass at midfield and drove to the net, but his shot was stopped by Tigers goalie Aiden Miller.
“They did a great job on the (faceoff),” Meenan said. “They also rode us hard when we were trying to clear the ball. We struggled to get the ball upfield. Those two things gave them a lot of possessions.”
North Allegheny led Franklin Regional, 14-0, at halftime.
Franklin Regional ended the shutout with 35 seconds to play in the third quarter as a Brincic shot bounced off the crossbar and into the goal.
“They are a very good team,” Meenan said. “They play fast, and they are well coached. We knew it was going to be a tough game and came in just trying to battle them.”
The Tigers' offense was led by hat tricks from Isaiah Davis and Kyler Byerly.
North Allegheny advances to the quarterfinals Wednesday against Upper St. Clair at a site and time to be determined.
“We're playing the best we have this season,” Rullan said. “But Wednesday is going to be a tough game. We can hang with anybody, but we can also lose to anybody.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.