PHS boys lacrosse reaches D-11 final
Two meetings with Easton (15-6) and two very different results for the Trojan boys lacrosse team.
Parkland (17-3) met up with the Easton Red Rovers in the EPC championship game and then looked across the field and saw the Rovers staring back in the District 11 semifinal game. Both games were played at Northampton High School on neutral, but familiar turf.
Easton had been gaining silver medals in lacrosse in recent seasons but was looking to add a little gold its collection and had their eyes set first on an EPC title. The Rovers accomplished that with a 14-7 win over Parkland.
The Red Rovers took command early with goals by Carter Youtz and Jhamir Logan. Parkland was able to make it a 4-2 game, but Easton continued to strike while the proverbial iron was still hot and by the end of the second quarter, had built an 8-2 lead.
“They went into a zone earlier than we thought they would, and we were expecting that they might do that at some point, but they did it earlier and it threw us off a little,” said Parkland head coach Vince Arezzi. “We fell behind early and that kind of had us playing catch up all night and that’s difficult to do in a playoff game.”
When the teams left the field, both planned on Easton, as the EPC champion, having the top seed in districts for the 3A classification. However, a little-known rule cost them that opportunity and gave them a tougher run for district gold. Because District 2 does not have enough 3A lacrosse teams to have its own championship, Delaware Valley plays as part of the classification in District 11.
That means that the district tournament is a subregional tournament, and, in that case, the league champion does not get the top spot by virtue of winning a league.
That dropped the Rovers from the top spot to fourth, behind Parkland and Freedom, who they beat in the EPC tournament, and Del Val, who they beat during the regular season. The ruling left Parkland’s top ranking intact as it entered district play.
The Trojans had a bye in the quarterfinal and Easton had to play Emmaus, who they dispatched easily. That set up the replay of the EPC championship Tuesday night back at Northampton High School.
Again, it looked like the Kusko boys were going to run the offensive show as Chase Kusko and Jake Parker scored two early goals only to have Easton tie the game at 2-2 at the end of the first quarter but fell behind 3-2 early in the second quarter.
Drew Filipovits scored the first of two goals he would have on the night to tie the game again. If you blinked, you missed a lot. In the span of just seven seconds, both teams added a goal. Logan scored for Easton and James Scott, as he did most of the night, won the ensuing faceoff and got it to Parker Kusko, who was racing toward the Easton goal. Kusko launched a shot past goalie Ethan Lapham and again, the game was even at 4-4.
It took a little longer for the next goal, but Parker Kusko, a sophomore, struck again two minutes later off an assist from Filipovits, who had also assisted on the game tying goal. Kusko found an opening and made it 5-4. To add some insurance, Jake Parker picked up goal number-two on the night as Parkland had put together a streak of four unanswered goals to lead 7-4.
Not liking how the scoreboard looked, the Red Rovers added two goals in the span of 43 seconds at the end of the quarter to make it 7-6 going into halftime.
The Parkland defense decided that six was the magic number and the Trojans were not going to allow Easton to add to their total in the second half. That alone would have won the game for the Trojans, but the offense was not done as they put together seven second half goals to put the game out of reach at 14-6.
Anthony Schultz was the biggest contributor to the scoreboard in the second half as he scored once in the third quarter and twice in the final nine minutes of the game to give himself a second half hat trick. The Trojans also got a goal from Parker and goals from both Kusko brothers and Filipovits while they enjoyed a man advantage that stretched from late in the third quarter into the fourth quarter.
After playing a role in 15 of 16 Parkland goals in the EPC semifinal game, the duo of Chase and Parker Kusko combined to play a role in five of the seven Trojans’ goals in the EPC championship game. In the district semifinals, they were a part of seven of the 14 Trojans goals. If you do the math, that means that at least one of the Kusko brothers has had either an assist or a goal in 27 of the last 37 goals the Trojans have scored in the postseason.
Parkland’s Scott won 18 of the 22 faceoffs in the game, which limited the opportunities for Easton to get anything going offensively.
“It helped to give us early offense and possessions and that helps us keep the ball. We want to hold the ball all game if we can and it helped that we dominated on the x tonight,” explained Schultz.
While the Parkland players insisted that the issue of who should be the number-one seed was not on their minds, the Trojans were determined to come out in the second half and shut down Easton to get the spot in the district final.
“We beat them once and they beat us once, so it has been a pretty even matchup between us, so it was just a matter of who would come out on top,” said Parker. “We really wanted to go to the finals, so this was the last step we had to take to get there, and we were determined.”
Parkland will play Freedom Thursday at Lehigh University in the district championship. The Trojans won the only regular season meeting between the two teams.