Pine-Richland beats Mt. Lebanon to capture 1st WPIAL boys lacrosse championship

Friday, May 24, 2019 | 10:59 PM

For the first time in the history of Pine-Richland boys lacrosse, the Rams are the WPIAL Class AAA champions after defeating Mt. Lebanon, 12-5, Friday night at Robert Morris.

“This means everything to the program,” Pine Richland coach Kevin Welty said. “We walk into that first practice next season with a whole different set of expectations. The youth guys in the stands, they’ll be talking about this and how they saw guys play big in this game. The whole school district is behind us, and this has just been unbelievable.”

After exits in the semifinals last year and the quarterfinals a year before, the Rams capitalized on their trip to the WPIAL championship. And it started from the very first whistle.

Ten seconds into the game, senior long-stick midfielder Jon Scherer darted right up the gut of the Mt. Lebanon defense and scored his only goal of the game. It was exactly what the Rams were looking for, an early lead that gave them the ability to play from ahead for a majority of the game.

“We talked about it all week,” Welty said. “We’re not a very deep team right now, we just lost one of our captains to a season-ending injury against Shady Side. So, we were waiting for our guys to get tired, they just never did. I think that if we were playing from behind, that game goes completely different.”

The Rams led for almost the entirety of the game. Mt. Lebanon held a 2-1 lead for about 23 seconds in the first quarter, until Dane Dowiak tied it up with his first goal of the game. The Rams never looked back.

Dayne Goltz made it 3-2 as the first-quarter buzzer sounded and the Rams never trailed again. For a stretch, the Blue Devils kept it close but, ultimately, they couldn’t keep pace with the high-powered Rams offense.

Around the 6:31 mark of the second quarter, Dowiak scored his second goal, which began a run of four straight tallies for the Rams, including his third about three minutes later. That run of goals allowed the Rams to take an 8-3 lead into halftime, and it started with Dowiak.

“He’s a player of the year for that reason, and I think he senses the moment, I think, better than anyone I have ever coached.” Welty said. “The great thing about him is that he scores that goal, and then he starts thinking about the next goal that he wants to score. He has a motor and he never stops, and he just came up clutch for us tonight.”

Pine Richland continued to extend the lead after halftime. The Rams scored twice in the third and then added three more in the fourth quarter to cement the first boys lacrosse title in school history.

While that feeling is extra special, Welty commended his senior class for a special season and said they were a big reason the Rams were able to bring the title home.

“We gave the game to them and they took it,” Welty said. “From the start, Scherer getting us started on the right foot all the way to the end with Ryan Springer scoring that last goal. We trusted our seniors, and they delivered, and I am especially happy for that group. They are a special group, and they proved it tonight.”

Check out an archived video stream broadcast of this game on the TribLive High School Sports Network.

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