BRYN MAWR -- Brandon McNicholas and the Avon Grove defense knew how to stop Wilson-West Lawn star Matt Close.
Close, who came into Saturday's PIAA quarterfinal with 75 goals on the season, was the primary focus for McNicholas all week.
Even though it's late in the school year for the soon-to-be graduating senior, McNicholas still did his homework.
"When he puts his head down he's going to the goal,' McNicholas said. "We just wanted to slide and get the ball out of his stick as early as possible. It was good communication and good team defense sliding to the ball all day.'
That strategy paid off for McNicholas and the Avon Grove defense as they held Close to two goals on the afternoon. The Red Devils offense took over from there.
Stephen Cyron had five goals and four assists as Avon Grove scored a season-high in goals with a 17-11 victory over Wilson in the PIAA quarterfinals at Harriton High School.
The win sends Avon Grove (19-4) back to the PIAA semifinals for the second consecutive year. The Red Devils will face Radnor, a 14-2 winner over Lewisburg, on Tuesday.
Cyron took over the Ches-Mont scoring lead with his five goal performance and has 64 for the season. While he had the highlight performance of the afternoon, Cyron thought the Avon Grove offense played up to its full potential.
"This game it was more about every single player on the field moving the ball, spinning it to the backside and getting it done,' Cyron said. "We moved the ball so well today everybody had the opportunity.'
Seven different Red Devils scored in the game. Four of them came from Tanner Peck, who has 46 on the season.
Avon Grove's transition game exposed the Wilson defense throughout the first half. Once the defense caused a turnover, the Red Devils were off and running. They caught Wilson off guard at midfield with Peck at the helm. He thrust a pass to Cyron in front of the net, who then found a wide open Ryan Cook for the finish to give Avon Grove a 5-2 lead late in the first quarter.
"The transition offense is a little bit of a pump-up thing for us,' Peck said. "It gets the game moving quicker along with our team. It keeps everything at a fast pace, which is what we like to do.'
Avon Grove started to pull away in the second quarter after leading 5-3 to close the first. The Red Devils scored four unanswered goals in a four minute span to make it 9-3 with 5:20 left in the second.
Bryce Reid capped off the scoring barrage in the quarter with just three seconds remaining in the first half to give Avon Grove a commanding 11-4 lead heading into halftime.
Once the second half began, it was all about finishing for the Red Devils.
Connor Howell and Ryan Terefenko each scored for Wilson to cut the lead to 11-6 with 6:25 left in the third. That was the closest the District 3 runner-up Bulldogs (24-2) got.
Avon Grove answered with five unanswered goals to pull away. Peck scored his fourth goal of the afternoon to make it 12-6, followed by two Cyron goals to make it 14-6 at the end of the third.
Eric Russo and Ryan Cook sealed the victory for the Red Devils with two goals in a 14-second span to make it 16-6 with 10:02 left.
Cook finished with three goals and Reid had two.
The win was a much-needed one for Avon Grove. Not because it was a "win or go home' situation, but the Red Devils wanted to play a complete game after squeaking by Hershey in the first round of states.
"Hershey made us aware you can lose at any time,' Cook said. "It made us realize how close the state playoffs really are. Just have to take things one game at a time.'
Avon Grove has reached the PIAA semifinals for the second consecutive year, but the mentality is the same in the Red Devils locker room as they return to the round in which they were eliminated last season.
"We don't want to stop there that's for sure,' Peck said. "We came in today with a chip on our shoulder and ready to play. They are (Radnor) a good team, but we got to come out on our game and hopefully get the ' W' and move on to Hershey.'
The smell of Chocolate Town is just a win away.
Avon Grove 17, Wilson 11
Wilson 3 1 2 5—11
Avon Grove 5 6 3 3—17
Wilson goals: Terefenko 2, M. Close 2, A. Close 2, Watkins 2, Howell 2, Phillips.
Avon Grove goals: Cyron 5, Peck 4, R. Cook 3, Reid 2, Russo, Pousson, Moroz.
Goalie saves: Rolland (W) 14; Schreiner (AG) 11.