BOYS LACROSSE: Palmyra earns bragging rights with win over Cedar Crest
Cedar Crest and Palmyra, Lebanon County's only schools with boys' lacrosse programs, matched sticks Friday night in a spirited non-league clash at Earl Boltz Stadium that benefited the HeadStrong Foundation for cancer research.
Both teams entered the game with similar records and comparable styles of play. With Crest missing three players due to injury and Palmyra coming off an impressive Mid-Penn Keystone Division win over Bishop McDevitt, the outcome went the Cougars' way 14-7.
Eric Thomas scored four goals for the Cougars, with two each coming from Josh Shoemaker, Pete Robertson and Ethan Gain as they claimed county bragging rights.
"This was probably our best game yet," said Palmyra coach Jeff Gatano, whose club moved to 4-7. "With our 11-2 win over Bishop McDevitt (Thursday), this was the first time we put together two good games. Our offense settled down, moved the ball well and our shots were on target. This was Eric Thomas' first four-goal game, which was good to see."
Crest, which slipped to 3-7, got three goals from Stevie Roda and two from Mitch Tice. Roda now has 21 goals on the season for Crest, same as Mike Weaver, who was held to one goal by the Cougars.
Goalie Liam Nieman had a strong game for Crest with 12 saves, while Cougar goalie Nick Sherrif was called on for just four.
Palmyra was able to control the game via face offs, ground balls and the play of junior center mid Jared Richard and junior defender Ty Gallagher.
Crest was still looking to make a game of it in the fourth quarter when Richard fought off the challenge of mid Jake Booth and scored to give Palmyra an insurmountable 13-5 lead with 7:34 left.
"Palmyra's a good team," Crest coach Craig Kemmlein said. "We were missing our face off guy. So they dominated us on faceoffs and groundballs. Gallagher's a good player in the back for them. We possessed the ball pretty well early, but didn't get much to show for it. And that's the way it continued."
Gallagher said he tried to contain Roda, Tice and Weaver any way he could.
"Our offense did a good job of controlling the ball," he said. "And when Crest was attacking, I just tried to crowd them as much as I could and get a push when they shot so their shots were off balance. Nick (Sherrif) has been stopping everything and he did the rest."
The Cougars got on the board first following a Crest turnover at midfield. Richard started the play by running left, then passing back over the middle to Thomas, who eluded two Crest defenders before beating Nieman with 9:38 left in the first period.
Crest tied it at 6:51 on a goal by Roda off an assist from Weaver, before Palmyra went up 3-1 on goals by Shoemaker at 5:33 off a Robertson assist and Thomas at 4:24.
Down 3-1, Kemmlein called timeout to regroup.
It didn't help a great deal as Palmyra went up 4-1 on Shoemaker's second goal at 1:18 off Robertson's second assist.
Crest pulled one back with 42 seconds left in the first period as Tice's shot eluded Sherrif, before Palmyra retaliated in the final seconds of the period off a shot by Gain from close range off a nifty feed from Cam Ihli.
Crest gained life in the opening minute of the second quarter when Weaver scored off a Roda assist to make it 5-3.
Midway through the second period, Palmyra opened a four-goal cushion by scoring twice within 15 seconds. Thomas collected his third goal at 8:36, with Robertson assisting, and Joey Giordano made it 7-3 at 8:21.
Crest answered with 4:26 left in the half when Tice got his second goal, with Weaver assisting.
The Cougars redoubled their lead just before half when senior Trevor Frye scored with 1:00 left off a Shoemaker assist.
Momentum can change quickly in lacrosse. A year ago, Palmyra was up 6-2 at half when the Falcons scored seven second-half goals before Palmyra eventually pulled out a 11-9 win.
Roda got things started in the second half with his second goal two minutes in, with Gain making it 9-5 at the 7:16 mark off an assist from Richard.
Thomas got his fourth goal off a patented move from right wing at 6:04 to open a 10-5 lead. Gain then found Tyler Kreiser streaking through the Crest defense for a 11-5 advantage with five minutes left in the quarter.
Palmyra stayed in control with back-to-back goals by Richard and Robertson to make it 14-5 with 7:11 left.
Crest got a final goal from Roda with five minutes left and one from Grant Clarkson in the final minute.
Palmyra 14, Cedar Crest 7
Goals: P - Eric Thomas 4, Josh Shoemaker 2, Ethan Gain 2, Joey Giordano, Trevor Frye, Tyler Kreiser, Pete Robertson 2, Jared Richard CC - Steve Roda 3, Mitch Tice (2), Mike Weaver, Grant Clarkson.
Assists: P - Robertson 3, Cam Ihli, Shoemaker, Richard, Gain, Thomas. CC - Weaver (2), Roda, Christian Brightbill.
Goalies: P - Nick Sherrif (4) CC - Liam Nieman (12 saves).
Shots: P 36. CC 24.
JV Score: Palmyra 11, Cedar Crest 5