Palmyra boys lax rolls to first district win
ANNVILLE - “Run to green.”
Those were the instructions given by Palmyra head coach Dave Ondrusek to a feisty and determined Cougars’ boys lacrosse squad at the half of Tuesday night’s District Three Class 2A first-round contest, with the Cougars already leading Spring Grove 11-4.
What “run to green” inherently implied, of course, is that the individual in the clear has a greenlight to go.
The top-seeded Cougars spread ‘em out and doled ‘em out aplenty in the second and third quarters, turning what had been a competitive contest versus No. 16 Spring Grove into a 19-5 rout and giving Palmyra its first ever victory in the District Three tournament.
Palmyra (19-1) will host No. 8 Cocalico (12-7) Thursday at 7 p.m. at Lebanon Valley College’s Arnold Field, the same field on which the Cougars made team history Tuesday night.
“We hope we can continue on with it,” Ondrusek said. “We had our first opportunity last year and lost in the first round. Kind of reminded the boys that, at this point last year, this was our last game. I said I don’t want it to be our last game this year and they bought right in to it.”
Though Palmyra never trailed versus the Rockets (8-10), Spring Grove kept itself in the game thanks to an early goal from York College commit Tanner Bolton and a late first-quarter score from Dylan Griffiths (four goals).
But Palmyra had already tallied a first-quarter trio from Pete Robertson, Ethan Gain and Kyle Nolen, the latter coming in transition after defender Ryan Baysinger de-sticked his Rockets’ counterpart, for a 3-2 advantage after one.
Grant Haus opened the second quarter with an around-the-back goal and Robertson (five goals, two assists) scored likewise before the floodgates opened wide.
“We make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time,” Robertson said of his team’s offensive spacing. “We knew (Spring Grove) had a good defense but not the hardest we’ve faced. We knew we could cut through and get around to open shots.”
Alec Richard (one goal, two assists) put in a pass from Robertson in front of the crease before Robertson and Gain (five goals, two assists), went on personal tears.
Gain tallied two goals just 12 second apart with four minutes to play in the half for a 9-4 lead.
Then, following a Spring Grove timeout, Cougars’ goaltender Anthony Bressi (4 saves) and Rockets’ goaltender Rob Wood (seven saves) traded stops until Robertson’s goal with 10 seconds left in the half — echoed by Gain’s buzzer-beater just seconds later — provided Palmyra with its aforementioned halftime lead.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start but then started to turn it on,” Ondrusek said. “Unfortunately, it’s like one of those diesel trucks. It starts to rev up and then all of a sudden it gets going. That’s kind of what we are right now.”
On a downhill slope, perhaps, as Palmyra was relentless from the opening faceoff of the third with Gain, Nolen (four goals) and Kyle Wasilewski (two goals) getting part of the action, before the Cougars drained the fourth-quarter clock on a pair of long possessions, on their way to their first ever trip to the district three quarterfinals.
“Tonight, our offense started slow again, but then we started moving,” Robertson said. “Our defense played great, Bressi played great… moving on to the quarterfinals, we’ve just got to come hard at practice on Wednesday.”
Palmyra 19, Spring Grove 5
Spring Grove goals—D. Griffiths 4, T. Bolton
Palmyra goals—P. Robertson 5, E. Gain 5, K. Nolen 4, K. Wasilewski 2, G. Haus, A. Richard, N. Hawkins
Spring Grove assists—N. Gregory 2, Z. Hollinger
Palmyra assists—P. Robertson 2, E. Gain 2, A. Richard 2, T. Caton 2, Haus, Hawkins, Ihli
SHOTS: SG 9, PL 26
SAVES: SG—R. Wood 7; P—A. Bressi 4