Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse fights through growing pains

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Friday, April 26, 2019 | 6:50 PM


With a young, small roster, Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse coach Trevor Adams has made this season all about executing fundamentals.

The team has proven it can be successful after a two-win season a year ago in a higher classification, but there have been growing pains.

“If we miss clears, it’s because we didn’t make the easy pass. If we didn’t get a hard ground ball, it’s because we didn’t fight hard enough,” Adams said. “Those are pieces we’re cleaning up, but our offense can move the ball and the defense can hold it down. It’s that transition we have to work on or we get stuck.”

Sewickley Academy’s April 18 game against Freeport showed both sides of its youthfulness.

Down 2-0 a few minutes into the first period, the Panthers were struggling to maintain possession beyond midfield against a physical Yellowjackets team.

Freeport didn’t slow down its offensive pressure, but Sewickley Academy senior goalie Josh Thomas answered the call by saving the next 10 shots to take a 2-2 tie into halftime.

“We knew they were a good team,” Thomas said. “I think the key was we started to communicate well, and we moved our feet. We made a few mistakes, but it was really a team effort to stick it out.”

Sewickley Academy went on to win 7-6, just days after losing a one goal game to South Fayette.

“I told them after that loss that we needed to show that, that isn’t who we are,” Adams said. “We needed to show we can come from behind. We needed to show we could hold a lead, and this was a great testament to their pride and effort.”

It’s the type of win that should give the team more confidence heading into the second half of the season.

“I feel like this will give us momentum to go to Trinity and play really well,” Thomas said. “I have a really good feeling about this, especially for all of our freshmen and sophomores and their development.”

Thomas was right. Sewickley Academy (5-4, 3-2) rolled through Trinity, 17-2, to move above .500 for the first time this season.

The team’s ability to endure difficult early stretches, Adams said, has been due to his veteran goalie and defense.

“Defensively, we’re really senior heavy,” Adams said. “That’s what has kept us in games, and that’s what allows us on offense where we’re so young. If we didn’t have those defensive senior anchors, I’m not sure that we’d always be competitive in every game.”

Thomas credited senior defenders Donald Belt, Clay Winningham and Dan Phillips with helping younger players develop.

The offense also has recently excelled, averaging 7.5 goals over the past five games.

“Last year, we had almost all freshmen on offense, and they’re all back as sophomores,” Adams said. “They’re starting to lead us down there. We also have a junior on offense, Ben Mahon, and he’s improved greatly as a player and leader.”

Sophomore Jack Wentz leads the team with 20 goals, and sophomore Matthew Meakem has 11 assists.

The Panthers just have to find a way to be more consistent in Class AA.

“It’s been phenomenal for us (moving down a classification),” Adams said. “We don’t have a ton of kids, and there’s no (junior varsity) team. We have kids who are gaining varsity experience, and weeks in double-A like this are perfect for their confidence and our growth as a team.”

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