Shady Side Academy boys lacrosse savors win in ‘electric’ WPIAL title game

Saturday, June 4, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Shady Side Academy players and coaches knew the WPIAL Class 3A boys lacrosse championship game would be a close battle.

It lived up to those expectations and then some.

The Bulldogs (17-5) defeated Mt. Lebanon in overtime, 12-11, at Robert Morris’ Joe Walton Stadium.

A goal by J.P. Henry on a behind-the-back shot 2 minutes, 59 seconds into overtime sealed the second WPIAL title for the Shady Side Academy program and its first since 2014.

“I thought the atmosphere was electric,” said Bulldogs coach Cam Thompson. “We had two great fan bases of two historically great lacrosse programs. They put on a really great show in the west for a sport that doesn’t get a lot of publicity or excitement. We showed them that we’ve got great lacrosse programs in Western PA and guys who play really, really hard.”

Shady Side jumped out to a 6-3 lead after one period and led by two at the half. But the Blue Devils came back and tied the score 8-8 after three quarters.

Mt. Lebanon looked to be in the driver’s seat when Mt. Lebanon’s Aidan Conway scored with 1:56 to go to make it 11-10 Blue Devils. But Mac Mohn answered with a goal with a little more than a minute left to send the game into overtime.

Shady Side won the faceoff to start the extra session, and Thompson immediately called a timeout.

“Mt. Lebanon had done a really good job at the faceoff X of tying up our faceoff guys and making it more of a wrestling match-type ground ball than a clean faceoff win that we’re used to getting,” the Bulldogs coach said. “The possessions were going to be valuable in the overtime, and I was prepared to call the timeout if we did gain possession and there was a chance we might lose the ball.

“In our huddle, we drew up a set play we run every now and the next. Ethan Salvia made a great dive on their (long stick middle). They kind of tripped Ethan. The ball was bouncing around and J.P. picked it up and finished it off for us.”

“I practiced that shot a countless number of times in my backyard,” Henry said. “I work on that shot for moments like that. A quick ground ball, an unexpected shot. As coach said, my friend Ethan was dodging a tough Lebo guy and was lucky enough to get him on his heels. The ball was loose. I picked it up and threw it behind my back in one motion, and I was glad it went in.”

Thompson said one of the strengths of the Bulldogs team is paying attention to small details.

“Yes, I think paying attention to the finer details is one of the things we do,” Henry said. “Like ground balls, you get one or two ground balls, and those ground balls could be huge difference-makers. Paying attention to small details is crucial.”

Salvia scored four goals in the title game. Both Henry and Salvia are juniors and have already committed to play at Marquette.

Thompson gave credit to his assistants for the climb to the WPIAL title.

“I’ve had J.A. MacDougall on the staff for six years,” the coach said. “He could go and be a head coach somewhere but wants to be part of this program. He works tirelessly. Josh Frechette is our defensive coordinator and was a head coach for 10 years in California and New Jersey.”

The Bulldogs defeated Erie McDowell, 15-4, to start PIAA play.


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