Since Sewickley Academy began playing lacrosse as a club sport in 1966, the Panthers have had a lot of input into who claims the top spot among varsity high school boys teams in the western half of the state.
Over the past decades, the Panthers have won seven Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse League titles, nine Western Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse championships and their first WPIAL title last season.
Sewickley Academy advanced to the state tournament once again, but ran out of time while attempting to defend its most recent title in the WPIAL Division I Lacrosse Championship Friday night at Chartiers Valley High School.
The Panthers took their shots, but thanks to solid goaltending by Riley Kirkland the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils (16-3) picked up the title with a 10-8 victory.
“It was a great game, and great for Western Pennsylvania lacrosse,” Panthers coach Tim Hastings said. “Fans saw a high level of lacrosse from both teams.”
Sewickley Academy scored twice in the final four minutes to chop into Mt. Lebanon’s 10-6 lead.
“We played a great game,” Hastings said. “But we need to carry a little chip on our shoulder that we lost it, and carry that into the state tournament.”
Matt Peter and Ed Lally scored in the opening quarter, and Rob Kendall and Grant Abraham added second-quarter goals to give Sewickley Academy a 4-3 halftime lead.
“Our intent was to go full-bore in the first quarter, and in the second and third quarter we were going to try and possess (the ball),” Hastings said. “We wanted to keep them from playing offense in the second quarter and we did a great job of that.”
Peter scored again in the third quarter, but Mt. Lebanon came away with a decisive 4-1 edge in the period despite the fact the Panthers controlled the ball for the opening three minutes after halftime.
“Our goal was to be tied after three quarters, and then open it up in the fourth quarter and let the best team win,” Hastings said.
Kendall added two more goals and Lally tossed in another score during the Panthers’ late charge in the fourth quarter.
“Mt. Lebanon has been the class of the league all season, but we were looking forward to this game because we thought we could do a very good job against them,” Hastings said. “And we did. If a few more things had gone our way, we’d be the one with the (championship) trophy. Unfortunately, we were a little too far behind at the end.”
Sophomore attacker Doran Graham scored three goals for Mt. Lebanon, including the final Blue Devils’ goal with 4:52 remaining in the game.