Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse focusing on fundamentals to fuel strong start

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Sunday, April 25, 2021 | 11:01 AM


After last season was taken away by the coronavirus pandemic, the Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse team is relishing the opportunity to get back on the field, and the Panthers are taking advantage of it.

Through five games, they own an overall record of 4-1 and have a perfect Section 2-AA mark of 3-0, with wins over Chartiers Valley, Franklin Regional and Trinity. They also blew out Freeport, 14-4.

“We’ve talked about it a lot, just enjoying being able to be back on the field and appreciating it,” Sewickley Academy coach Clay Deutsch said. “Just having fun while we’re playing. If we focus on the things we are teaching on the field and then enjoy the experience, that’s only going to make us better as a team.”

The Panthers started with a 7-6 win over Franklin Regional and also played a close matchup with Chartiers Valley (11-10). Even though they were two close games, the Panthers found a way to win to stay atop the section standings.

Those close victories taught Deutsch a lot about his players’ ability to compete in tough situations.

“We’ve played some really great teams, and we’re in a really competitive division,” Deutsch said. “I’ve just been really impressed by our team’s commitment and effort, especially with such a small roster and a different season. We’re just really happy with the determination that everyone has shown.”

Senior co-captain Jack Wentz has led the way with 20 goals, while junior attackman Jack Gordon, who also led the Sewickley Academy hockey team with 24 goals this season, has scored 17 goals.

Senior co-captain Matt Meakem leads the team with 20 assists. Deutsch also complimented the play of junior goalie Ian Schneider, who has stepped up big on several occasions.

It hasn’t just been the upperclassmen who have been producing either. With a small roster, each and every team member has had to produce at one time or another, and Deutsch believes that bodes well for the future.

“We’ve been getting contributions and we’ve needed contributions from everyone, so that’s been amazing to see,” Deutsch said. “Really, all of the underclassmen have taken on big roles. We are just really lucky to have them around for another few years.”

But Deutsch believes this season’s success has come from playing fundamental, team lacrosse.

“That’s what we focus on in practice, and the guys have really shown that they are able to translate that onto the field,” Deutsch said. “We try to keep it really simple in terms of the way we play the game and just focus on the basics, and they’ve done a really good job of doing that.”

The Panthers suffered their lone loss April 17, falling to North Hills, 7-5. To keep their success rolling, Deutsch said the Panthers need to continue to focus on their fundamentals.

“I think that’s important at every level and it always seems to come back to catching and throwing, ground balls and playing good positional defense,” Deutsch said. “So, we’re going to continue to focus on getting better as a team but just in terms of the effort, the excitement, and the focus that we’ve seen from the team, that’s something that, as coaches, that we are really proud of to see. So as long as that keeps up, we can keep it going.”

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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