Second-half surge guides Mars past Cathedral Prep in PIAA boys lacrosse playoffs

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 | 10:45 PM


The Erie Cathedral Prep boys lacrosse team's bus must have used somewhere around a half tank of fuel in its journey down Interstate 79 en route to North Allegheny for the opening round of the PIAA Class AA lacrosse tournament. Problem is that there wasn't enough gas in the tank left for the Ramblers to put together two complete halves against Mars.

Leading by just one goal at halftime, the Planets stormed back and overwhelmed the Ramblers with 12 unanswered goals as Mars rolled past, and often times over, District 10 champ Erie Cathedral Prep, 20-8, Tuesday evening at North Allegheny's Wright Field.

“We exerted a lot of energy to win WPIALs and we came out really fast against Cardinal Wuerl and we came out really fast against Hampton,” Mars coach Bob Marcoux said. “We didn't have that natural enthusiasm (early on). Their goalie started making the saves, and the energy wasn't quite where it needed to be.”

Mars (18-1) moves on to the PIAA quarterfinals Saturday to face District 3 runner-up Palmyra (22-2) at a site and time to be determined. Palmyra downed WPIAL runner-up Hampton, 7-5, on Tuesday to advance.

“They're a very deep team, and they're very good,” Erie Cathedral Prep coach Nathan Reichel said of Mars. “We've been kind of keeping tabs on them all year, and we knew that they were very good. They just kept on pushing, pushing, pushing and the boys kept competing, and we were just a little outgunned.”

In the first half, Cathedral Prep (9-10) went toe-to-toe with the three-time defending WPIAL champion Planets. Quentin Zonna scored the first of his two goals 42 seconds into the game to give the Ramblers a quick 1-0 lead.

Mike Doyle came right back to tie the game at 1-1 before the Prep's John Lupo scored to give the Ramblers the lead again at 2-1. A combination of sloppy passing and stellar goal play by Ramblers' goalie Timothy Klebanski kept Prep in the game the entire first half.

“Give (Klebanski) credit, he stopped a lot of doorstep shots that we usually score on,” Marcoux said.

Mars' Cade Hetlzer scored back-to-back goals to run the score up to 3-2 to close out the first quarter. Garret Reinke took a pass from the faceoff, raced toward the goal and buried it past Klebanski 12 seconds into the second quarter to give the Planets a 4-2 lead. Lupo responded with a near-angle shot from 10 yards to cut Mars' lead to 4-3 before teammate Jacob Emerson tied the game at 4-4 with 8 minutes remaining in the first half.

“We felt like we were OK, we just needed to work a little bit through the hangover,” Marcoux said.

Prep's Jonathan Zambroski got behind the Planets defense to give the Ramblers a 5-4 lead at the 4:30 mark of the second quarter. Anthony Grieco scored his first goal, when he bounced a shot past Klebanski to tie the game at 5-5. Grieco finished the match with a hat trick. Hayden Vasbinder gave the Planets the lead for good at 6-5 just before halftime.

“Honestly, we were getting pretty good shots, we just needed to finish them,” Marcoux said.

Even with the lead, Mars was playing below its standard, and senior attacker Brendan Moyer let his team know during the halftime break.

“We came out a little flat, and we knew what was on the line,” Moyer said. “It was win or go home, and we expect to be playing a few more games. I said to the guys, ‘Let's get our heads in the game, crisp up a little bit' and it showed off in the third quarter.”

The Planets netted nine goals in the third quarter, three of which came from Moyer himself.

“I think in the third quarter we came out just flying, and that's what we all needed,” Moyer said.

Doyle added three third-quarter goals and finished with a game-high four goals.

“We just started off slow, and their goalie, I don't think we were expecting him to make some of the saves that he made,” Doyle said. “We just came out sloppy and we missed a lot of shots. Their goalie was really tough up top.”

Senior attacker Owen Corsi found the net twice, as well. No goal was more indicative of the second half than Mars' senior Andrew Moyer's second goal of the game. Moyer took a pass, and with a head full of steam, ran over a Prep player and scored to give Mars a 15-5 lead to close out the third quarter.

“Once we came in, started to compose ourselves, started hitting the corners, that's when we started hitting the net,” Brendan Moyer said.

The Planets showed their depth in the fourth quarter by putting up five goals to seal the win. Hetzler, Grieco, Dan O'Connell, Hunter Fetsko and Nicholas Spotti all found the net for Mars.

“We try and convince these guys that every year in the NCAA tournament the one that ends up wining goes through a little adversity,” Marcoux said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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