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Team tops Easton in final

There was no question who would be champion before halftime of the District XI Class 3A boys lacrosse final between Freedom and Easton as the Patriots ran away early with the crown, their first in school history, 12-2, last Thursday at Lehigh University.

“This is a long time coming,” said junior Alex Hume. “Missed my first year because of COVID, getting our first playoff win last year, and beating Emmaus, DelVal, and Easton. This year was crazy. This was an experience.”

Hume got the Pates rolling with two goals in the first quarter, including the first of the game.

“I took them down to the corner on a side dodge, and I overcompensated to my right, so I took it to my left, came back to my right, and scored over the goalie,” he said. “Communication was brilliant. We were finding each other with every pass. We were smart, decisive. We were confident.”

Jake Ballerini also scored two goals in the first quarter, and the Pates led, 4-0.

“When we went up 4-0 in the first quarter, and then I saw their faces, coming on our sideline, we knew,” said Freedom sixth-year head coach Tony Fabrizio. “I’m so proud of these kids and what they’ve built in this program.”

The Patriots were just getting started, however, putting in five more goals by halftime scored by Connor Bevan, Alex Greenberg, Ballerini on an assist by Hume, and two by Antonio Solivan.

“Infamously this year, we’ve had very slow starts,” said Hume. “We’d been down a couple goals in almost all our big games, so coming out strong this game brought our mentality as a team, and it just kept on going, kept on going. Having that security going into the second half was great. The energy, from the captains to every member of the team, the bench, it was there today. The locker room was great. Music blasting the whole time. We knew what to do.”

The Pates’ defense held the Red Rovers until midway through the third quarter when Bryce Billings scored Easton’s first goal.

“Easton is super physical, big team, a lot of superstars on attack and defense. We were worried about Trent (Griffin) and Sean Wilson on offense, and we locked them up for a majority of the game, gave our poles a chance to get some turnovers on the other guys, and we played lights out on defense,” said Freedom goalie Ryan Hathaway, who made 10 saves. “It’s a mental game. We know a lot of these kids, talking and all that. That’s the biggest challenge for me. Everybody was just locked in. It feels great. Freedom hasn’t been here before, so I think it’s nice Lehigh Valley has these previously worse teams stepping up.”

Freedom’s Jared Karabinus scored the final goal of the game with 4:00 remaining after finding the back of the net early in the third quarter.

“We knew the game wasn’t over yet, so we had to keep scoring and finish the game,” Karabinus said. “The second one (meant the most) because that was the closing one. It was an overhand bouncer. It feels amazing.”

Still not done, the Patriots will have hosted St. Joseph’s Prep in the first round of the PIAA State Boys Lacrosse Championships on Tuesday evening, past Press deadlines.

“We came out ready to play today. Our boys were excited. We’d been thinking about this since that last loss (to Easton in the regular season), so that fueled us today. We worked on a couple things we made mistakes on that first game with them, and luckily that worked out well,” Coach Fabrizio said. “Our offense was clicking tonight. We made the easy passes. So many times, previously, when things didn’t go our way, one person would try to take the team on their shoulders and go. Today was a full team effort.

Press photos by Nancy Scholz The Freedom boys lacrosse team brought home its first-ever District 11 title.
Jake Ballerini fires a shot on goal during the Pates district title game.