Quaker Valley boys lacrosse season ends in loss to Hampton
The Quaker Valley boys lacrosse team picked the worst time to turn in its worst performance of the season.
The No. 2 seeded Quakers fell a game shy of returning to the WPIAL Division II lacrosse championship for the third straight season, losing 12-5 to No. 3 Hampton in their semifinal game Monday at North Allegheny.
The seven-goal differential was the worst losing margin of Quaker Valley’s season. The game tied with a 12-10 loss to No. 1 Canon-McMillan for the most goals allowed by the Quakers this season and was tied for the team’s second lowest scoring output.
“I think we were mentally out of the game today,” coach Kyle Bliss said. “I’ve never seen us play this way before.
“I was worried after the (quarterfinal win against Moon) based on how they were practicing that beating Moon was it. I think they at some points looked past Hampton to Canon-McMillan to get revenge.”
Hampton killed off three Quaker Valley man-up situations in the first quarter and jumped out to a 3-1 lead before the game was delayed by lightning early in the second quarter.
When play resumed, the Quakers missed two point-blank scoring opportunities before senior Jared Vescio cut the lead to 3-2.
But the Quakers couldn’t keep their momentum going. Hampton responded with four unanswered goals as part of an 8-1 run that buried the Quakers’ hopes of a comeback.
“You’ve got to give credit to Hampton,” Bliss said. “When we watched film, and based on the scout I got from other coaches, this is the best they could have played. You have to be ready as a No. 2 seed to get everybody’s best game, and we didn’t respond well.”
Hampton attackmen Seve DiBucci and Nicholas Grabowski each had four goals to lead the game in scoring. Most of their damage was done in transition situations, a good sign that the Quakers’ usually stout defense was not in the right mindset, Bliss said.
“That was mental,” he said. “It was not sliding when we’re supposed to slide and not stepping up when we’re supposed to, and we let them score.
“(Goalie Elliot Sadja) had the best game of his year, but they got so many shots and we let so many close shots in that it completely threw us off.”
The loss to Hampton was the final game for seniors Vescio, Aaron Cunningham, Ryan Conlin, Chris Jabro, Parker Sherry, Jack Regueiro, Max Moser, Tice Harkins, Mack Perciavalle and Trent Ruprecht.
Bliss acknowledged that it was a hard way for that class to go out, considering the level of play they had provided for the team this season.
“They played awesome,” he said. “The senior leaders were out in front of the pack the whole time. Against Mars when we came back and won the section, beating Moon the second time, that was all those senior guys. That’s why they’re the winningest class to ever go through Quaker Valley.”
After losing to Moon, 6-5, in one of the last games of the season, the Quakers put together a convincing win against the Tigers in the opening round of the playoffs, winning 8-4.
Vescio scored the Quakers’ first four goals of the game to set the tone, and the rest of the team followed. Conlin, juniors Mike Clark and Tyler Smith and freshman Jake Giotto each added a goal to secure a victory and a spot in the semifinals.
Although they turned in the same effort in the next round, they just couldn’t find the same results.
“The kids — to their credit — always play hard,” Bliss said. “They played hard today, they just didn’t play well. You can’t turn the ball over like we did, miss shots like we did and miss ground balls like we did and expect to win in the playoffs.”