PALMYRA – Not only was it Senior Night for the Palmyra boys lacrosse team Thursday at In The Net, but it also had a chance to do something even more special – set the school record for most wins in the regular season.
It didn’t start out as smoothly as the Cougars would’ve liked, but fittingly, it was the seniors who led the way in changing their team’s fortune.
After a lackluster first half and with the game tied at three with 5:59 left in the third quarter, Palmyra rallied for six unanswered goals to down Lower Dauphin 9-3 in Mid Penn Conference play, earning the school record 12th win.
“I’m so happy for the seniors. We talked about them leaving a legacy,” Cougars coach Dave Ondrusek said. “I’m real happy for them.”
Eric Thomas was one of those seniors who helped set the tone in the second half, finishing with a three-point night consisting of two goals and an assist – both goals coming during Palmyra’s six-goal outburst.
“It was a big game for the seniors with it being our last time playing at home. Getting those 12 wins is important to us and the program,” Thomas said. “We’re not the biggest guys on the field; we just scrap and fight and claw our way back into games after we start out slow.”
Jared Richard was the other senior who found his way onto the scoring sheet with a goal that gave the Cougars (12-5, 4-1 MPC Keystone) a 3-2 lead with 1:48 left in the half.
Junior Ethan Gain absolutely went off with an eight-point night, including two goals and six assists.
“Ethan has great potential and is doing a great job reading defenses and reading opportunities,” Ondrusek said. “He’s come a long way from the beginning of the season and he’s exploding even further. We’re hoping for bigger things from him.”
Palmyra knew what kind of a challenge it would have, knowing the Falcons (8-8, 2-3 MPC) came in desperate for a win to stay alive for a spot in the District 3 playoffs. LD created plenty of chances early in the first half, out-shooting the Cougars 10-8 after one and 16-13 by halftime. Though Palmyra never trailed, the Falcons traded goals with the Cougars until they were put away in the second half.
“That’s the thing we had to stress to the guys, knowing we had a good opportunity to keep moving up in the district rankings,” Ondrusek said. “The one thing I was fearful of was guys getting complacent, and they didn’t. They came out strong. It was a little tough at first but we made the adjustments and they responded to them well.”
And those adjustments were the best of the season, according to Ondrusek, coming at a pretty good time of the year.
“We noticed they were playing a zone defense and we just started working on making cuts through to take advantage of it,” Ondrusek said.
The Cougars are confident as they head into districts, and look to close out a memorable regular season with one more win at Mechanicsburg on Tuesday.