EAGLEVILLE, PA — As time expired in the PIAA Class 2A boys’ semifinal lacrosse game, a forest-green clad crowd rose to applaud the losing team. And for good reason.
Although the defending state champion, Springfield-Delco, defeated Lansdale Catholic, 12-0, the Crusaders advanced to the final four in their first ever PIAA appearance.
“We knew we had something special this year. Our goal was an appearance in the state tournament, something the program has never done before. We achieved our goals and more,” said Lansdale Catholic head coach Tom Nace.
And for LC, it’s been a long time coming.
“For us to make it from 5-13 our sophomore year to our senior class being 18-5 this year and in the state semifinals is a huge accomplishment for our school,” stated senior midfielder Nick Heiler.
“We’ve all grown up playing together,” added senior and leading team scorer Grady Kelly.
Lansdale Catholic (18-5) clinched the District 12 championship and advanced past both Eastern York and then Crestwood in the first two rounds of states but came up short against an uncommon, seasoned opponent in Springfield – a team in its sixth PIAA tournament.
And like a team with an 11-4 record in state tournament play, the Cougars came out firing. Less than a third into the first quarter, Springfield’s Michael Tulskie registered two consecutive goals to take an early lead, 2-0.
Tulskie then scored his third just 56 seconds into the second, giving the Cougars the edge to post three more and boast a 6-0 lead by halftime.
Although Heiler won the majority of the faceoffs for LC (18-5), Springfield (21-3) maintained possession in its offensive zone throughout with its successful ground ball pick up rate. Springfield goalie, James Spence—one of three All-Americans on its roster—also proved impermeable for the Cougars, saving eight shots.
LC teammates on the sideline in the PIAA 2A state semi - photo by Emma Thornton
The second half mirrored much of the first, with the Cougars scoring early in both quarters to maintain momentum, ultimately extending the final score to 12-0.
“We knew it would be a tough game. We played our guts out today, but they’re just a good team,” said Heiler.
Perhaps the persistence of grit in the Crusaders is a testament to perseverance of the team all season, who advanced to the state semifinals after prevailing in multiple come-from-behind wins this season—notably reversing a 3-0 deficit against Eastern York in the first round.
“We never let up, and that was evident in tonight’s game, too. (At) ten seconds left, we have kids dodging at the cage despite being down twelve goals,” said Nace.
Now, with the added experience of playing at the highest level in high school lacrosse, there’s no more writing off the “bunch of Lansdale boys coming to work on the turf” moving forward.
“We will definitely feed off this moving forward. It means a lot to make it to the semifinals and hopefully that makes kids want to play for Lansdale Catholic in the future,” remarked Nace.
-- By: Emma Thornton