Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Defense Wins District 3 Lacrosse Championship for Trinity

Numbers lie sometimes, but the 8-3 score in which the Trinity Shamrocks beat the Falcons of Lower Dauphin for the 2024 District 3 Class 2A lacrosse championship on May 28 at COBO Field speaks truth to what Trinity does best – it defends, very well.

Giving up only three goals in 48 minutes of frenzied action is going to win big, tense playoff lacrosse. And when you are playing lacrosse around Memorial Day, whether collegiately or in high school, the reality is your program is good enough to compete at the highest level or you would be home watching instead of playing.

Trinity has lost only once this season, a 9-8 stumble against State College in the Mid-Penn Championship game played in almost typhoon-like conditions at Landis Field. And only once has Trinity given up double digit goals; that was to the Little Lions early in the season when the ’Rocks beat them 16-10.

Both Trinity and Lower Dauphin understandably came out playing tight in the first quarter, and it was not until nearly 10 minutes that Trinity struck first when Mid-Penn Player of the year Nico Chirieleison banged home a low-low shot to take a lead that was never given up.

After building a 5-0 lead late in the first half, the ’Rocks, whose third quarters are their highest octane offensive stanzas, looked to run away from the Falcons. But give Coach Bob Miller’s Falcon squad credit for pulling within 7-2 with six minutes left in the game. The Falcons are no fluke, having beaten the tournament’s number-two seed, Lampeter-Strasburg, 5-3, and #4 seed Twin Valley, 5-4, in a thriller on the road. What the Falcons do is slow down the tempo, crawl the ball around, playing a frustrating game of keep away.

Trinity’s answer to the stall was winning faceoffs (freshman Parker Will) and gaining enough possession time to not give the Falcons many quality offensive chances. Senior Body Teter in goal has had a super season in cage, giving up less than five goals a game while saving nearly 75 percent of the shots he does face. But Teter does not face many quality shots because his four poles in front of him; juniors Josh Standford, Ryan Smathers and Caleb Myers-Hanks and long-stick middie Joseph Olivetti are deft at playing on their opponents’ hands.

The truth, too, is that Trinity did not play its best game against Lower Dauphin. They were sloppy with the rock and did not handle the Falcons’ pressure defense well. If Trinity is going to make a serious run in the state playoffs, the turnover bug that stymies their offense must be cured. With only three seniors on a 50-player roster, this team, led by head coach Jerry Standford (in his second season) is young and it shows in the game’s pressure-packed crucial moments.

“That team we played tonight played pretty hard… but we played well, and I am really proud of this team,” Standford said as his players celebrated on COBO’s turf. “This year, I think they like each other and they really get along well together and have a common cause. All teams say that, but this team does it and buys into that…and as coaches it is fun to watch, and I am excited about what is ahead. There is no question our defense played really, really well and our goalie was fantastic. When he makes a great save, it motivates our defense even more to play better in front of him.”

It is the numbers that tell this team’s true story. That is that defense wins championships. This win gives Trinity its third district title in the past decade, with the last one coming in 2021. Four more defense-led victories would give Trinity its first ever state championship in lacrosse.

(Photos by Rachel Bryson, The Catholic Witness.)

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness

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