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EXETER – Palmyra's season of firsts in boys' lacrosse came to an end on Tuesday night in the Cougars' first ever state playoff game, a 15-9 loss to Strath Haven in the PIAA Class 2A opening round.

Even minutes after the defeat, though, Palmyra head coach Dave Ondrusek was still happy with the Cougars' season, which included their first ever Mid-Penn Keystone title and first ever District 3 championship.

“Probably, for the boys, the district championship was the biggest accomplishment,” Ondrusek said. “It's always sweeter when you bring home some hardware.”

Strath Haven did not have district hardware, having finished third in District 1. But that region is known as a lacrosse hotbed, and the Panthers showed it by taking an 11-3 lead at the half.

The Cougars (21-2) looked like they might have figured things out in the second half when Peter Robertson scored just 43 seconds into the third period to get Palmyra within seven.

However, Strath Haven (15-7) scored the next three goals to establish a 14-4 lead that Palmyra would peck away at in the last 21 minutes of the game, but never overcome.

The Cougars scored the next three goals to get within 14-7 entering the fourth quarter. Ryan Basinger, Grant Haus and Peter Robertson all scored. However, after Robertson's goal, his third, Palmyra went 7:36 without scoring. Though Strath Haven did not score in that span either, valuable time was disappearing.

Haus did score a second time in the fourth period, and Kyle Nolen added another goal to get the Cougars within 14-9 with 8:14 to play.

“We started moving the ball better, getting it where it needed to be,” Ondrusek said.

But Strath Haven closed out the scoring with the fourth goal by Jeffrey Conner, a University of Virginia recruit, with 6:27 remaining.

The tide turned in the Panthers favor in the last five minutes of the first period, when Strath Haven scored five times.

The contest was tied 1-1 when Will Huestis scored with 4:30 left in the quarter to put the Panthers ahead. Conner scored once and Liam Carney scored twice before Huestis capped the period off with his second tally for a 6-1 advantage.

“In the first quarter we were making mistakes that usually we don't make,” Robertson said. “I think we had nine turnovers in the first.”

The second quarter did not go much better for the Cougars. Tyler Fink, who had scored the opening goal for the Panthers, scored twice in the first three minutes of the period to increase the lead to 8-1.

Palmyra did get back-to-back goals by Peter Robertson and Nate Hawkins, but the momentum never felt like it had shifted. Conner scored twice in a row, and then Huestis took advantage of a midfield turnover to score with three seconds left for an 11-3 halftime lead.

Palmyra goalie Anthony Bressi made four saves. The Cougars had 34 shot attempts, 21 of them on goal.
Strath Haven 15, Palmyra 9
Strath Haven 6 5 3 1 — 15
Palmyra 1 2 4 2 — 9
Away goals (assists) —
 Jeffrey Conner 4(5), Chris Rossini 1(0), Tyler Fink 3(0), Liam Carney 3(2), Will Huestis 4(0), Ibrahim Pio 0(1), Zack Irons 0(1)          
Home goals (assists) — Peter Robertson 3 (1), Grant Haus 2(0), Kyle Nolen 1(0), Ryan Basinger 1(0), Nate Hawkins 1(0), Ethan Gain 1(1), Kyle Wasilewski 0(1)        ,  
Shots on goal  — Strath Haven 19, Palmyra  21
Goalie Saves — Strath Haven Vincey Palermo 4​, Will Brake 8​ ​. Palmyra Anthony Bressi 4​ ​ ​.

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