Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse caps historic season

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Sunday, May 30, 2021 | 11:01 AM


After a year off because of the coronavirus pandemic and so many unknowns coming into the season, the Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse team entered the campaign with no expectations. And yet the Panthers just completed one of the best seasons in the program’s recent history.

Behind seven seniors, including captains Jack Wentz (48 goals, 22 assists) and Matt Meakem (10 goals, 34 assists), the Panthers achieved an overall record of 10-5, which was their first winning season since 2014.

With their 13-9 WPIAL first-round playoff win over Moon, the Panthers also captured their first home playoff victory since 2011.

“The team did a phenomenal job this year,” Sewickley Academy coach Clay Deutsch said. “They really played well as a team, they supported each other and they were really balanced on offense and defense. We definitely achieved some significant milestones.”

The Panthers started their season with wins over Franklin Regional, Freeport, Chartiers Valley and Trinity before suffering their first loss of the year to North Hills on April 17. They also earned key victories over North Catholic, Gateway and Moon.

When the regular season concluded, the Panthers earned the No. 6 seed in the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs, and a matchup with Moon was on the horizon. The Panthers didn’t hesitate as their offense carried them to a four-goal victory and advanced them to the WPIAL quarterfinals.

“Our attackers played really, really well, and they really emerged as a scoring threat over the second half of the season for us,” Deutsch said. “They had nine of our 13 goals in the Moon game, and it really just provided a lot of balance to our offense.”

Two days later, the Panthers faced off with North Catholic, and their season came to an end when the Trojans scored 11 goals, the third most Sewickley Academy had let up all year, and held the Panthers to two.

Earlier in the year, the Panthers had beaten North Catholic, 10-8, but almost a month had passed since that matchup, and Deutsch thought the Trojans had the upper hand in their playoff matchup.

“We improved as a team a lot, but they are just a really good team,” Deutsch said. “I was just really proud of our effort. It was a really competitive division, and at that point in the season, every one is capable of playing well.”

With all the uncertainty that surrounded their program entering the season, the Panthers weren’t focused on wins or losses, but Deutsch saw tremendous growth from his players, which could be a sign of good things to come for the future of the program.

“We saw incredible growth from everyone on the team ,and that was something that we were really proud of and that we really tried to focus on in practice,” Deutsch said. “We really just wanted to get better every day and that certainly happened this year. We had five players with over 20 points on offense, and we had 10 players with over 20 ground balls.”

The Panthers grew up a lot this season, but they also will lose a lot to graduation. The seniors were a key part of the team’s success. Deutsch said they will definitely be missed.

“They were fantastic, and they consistently displayed really strong character and really strong leadership,” Deutsch said. “All of the seniors really played a huge role in leading this team to their winning record and instilling a very supportive team culture.”

SA girls advance to PIAA tournament

After compiling a record of 13-2 in the regular season, the Sewickley Academy girls lacrosse team earned the No. 4 seed in the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs and made a run to the semifinals before losing to top-seeded Mt. Lebanon, 13-10.

On May 26, the Panthers kept their season alive in the consolation game when they took down No. 2 Upper St. Clair, 17-5, to advance to the PIAA playoffs.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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