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Palmyra holds on to win District 3 boys' lacrosse title

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HERSHEY – When Palmyra first faced Hershey, the Cougars made a late comeback to win the Mid-Penn Keystone Division title by one goal.

When the Cougars and Trojans met again on Thursday night, Palmyra held off a Hershey comeback to win the District 3 Class 2A championship by one goal, 9-8, at Hersheypark Stadium.

It was the first district title for the Cougars (21-1), who had not won a district playoff game before this season. Palmyra will play the District 1 third-place team, either Strath Haven or Radnor, in the first round of the state tournament next Tuesday.

The Cougars could begin to smell victory at the beginning of the third quarter, when Cameron Ihli scooped up a loose ball from the faceoff and scored just eight seconds into the period for a 7-3 lead. That was the only goal of the third period.

More:: District 3 tournament brackets

Palmyra increased its lead to 9-4 when Alec Richard and Ethan Gain had goals sandwiched around a Warren Zeiders score for Hershey. But the Trojans, who saw a 7-3 lead over the Cougars evaporate into an 8-7 loss in the regular season finale, scored four times in the last 3:17.

Zeiders scored the first three of those, and Mark Sickler scored with 55 seconds remaining to make it 9-8. Hershey gained control of a loose ball with 39 seconds left and called time out. The Trojans got two more shots off, one of which went wide, and the other was stopped by Palmyra goalie Anthony Bressi.

“I've never seen this team ever get down,” Palmyra head coach Dave Ondrusek said. “They handle pressure, even down to the last 36 seconds.”

Bressi was also responsible for a momentum swing in the first period, making two big saves after Hershey had already taken a 2-0 lead. Though both Sickler and Zeiders had scored for the Trojans in the first 2:05, Bressi's stops kept the game close in the opening five minutes.

“Anthony stood tall today,” said Ondrusek of his net minder, who had 10 saves.

Then the Cougar offense kicked in, scoring six times in the last 6:47 of the first quarter.

The first three of those goals were scored in one minute. Gain put Palmyra on the board with 6:47 left in the first, assisted by Alec Richard. Peter Robertson scored unassisted with 6:15 to go, and then Gain picked up his second goal, assisted by Grant Haus 5:47 on the clock.

The Cougars kept the pressure up the rest of the first. Kyle Nolen stole the ball in the offensive side of the field and scored for a 4-2 lead. Then goals by Kyle Wasiewski scored with an assist from Haus, and Haus scored with an assist by Robertson for a 6-2 lead after one quarter.

Both teams were more deliberate in their offenses in the second quarter, with the only tally of the period being a goal by Hershey's Scott Eberle with 1:46 left before halftime.

Richard and Haus each had two assists in the victory.

Hershey goalie Jacob Fahnstock made eight saves.

Hershey 2 1 0 5 — 8
Palmyra 6 0 1 2 — 9

Away goals (assists) — Warren Zeiders 5, Mark Sickler 2(2), Scott Eberle 1(2)
Home goals (assists) — Ethan Gain 3 , Peter Robertson 1(1), Kyle Nolen 1(1), Kyle Wasliewski 1, Grant Haus 1(2), Cameron Ihli 1, Alec Richard 1(2) ,
Shots on goal — Hershey 18, Palmyra 17
Goalie Saves — Hershey Jacob Fahnstock 8​ ​ ​. Palmyra Anthony Bressi 10​ ​ ​.