It’s not very often that Ridley sees its season come to an end on Phil Marion Field.
The Green Raiders consistently rank as one of Pennsylvania’s powerhouse programs, so when their season ends on their home field, something went wrong.
When it happens two years in a row, as it did in an 11-4 loss to Avon Grove (box score here) it’s surprising. Not that the Red Devils are a bad team. Quite the opposite, actually. Avon Grove is very good and should make a run to the state tournament. But to be beaten so soundly and so decisively was stunning to watch.
For only the second time this year, Ridley gave up double-digit goals. The Green Raiders’ calling card all year was a stingy defense led by Nick Eufrasio, John Lyman, John Saunders and Mark Pascetta. But the Red Devils kept Ridley off-guard with a crisp offense that featured short, quick passes and no hesitation when it came to shooting the ball, especially high.
“We knew last game that (Ridley goalie Tom McDermott) was doing real well low,” said Avon Grove attackman Tanner Peck, who led the way with four goals. “We came out and we shot one high and then a few more, and then we saw him dipping low at first, so we figured, shoot high.”
Because of that, the Red Devils were rewarded by moving a step closer to the first PIAA tournament in school history.
“They have a rich tradition,” Peck said of Ridley. “We came together as a team. Playing in the Relentless Cup back in April, we won that game and we knew they were going to come out hungry (Thursday). We knew that they were going to come out angry that we beat them there on their field, so we came out strong. We had this motto, ‘all together’. We came out all together as a team. Start strong, finish strong. Come out hot and finish the game on a good note.”
A talented group of Green Raiders seniors saw their career come to an end on the field where they’d won so many games before. For Dalton George, who was almost single-handedly willing his team forward with three goals before Avon Grove broke Ridley’s spirit, if it had to end, this was the place to do it.
“I’d rather it be nowhere else but here,” said George, who will continue his career at Dickinson. “Honestly, if it has to end, I’d rather it end here. I love this field, the coaches and everything this field represents.”
Springfield, Garnet Valley, Radnor roll
– The Cougars’ road gets just a smidge tougher as they take on No. 3 Conestoga in Saturday’s quarterfinal, but with the way their defense is playing, it might not matter who takes the field against Springfield. Dan Smyth was, well, Dan Smyth in an 11-3 rout of West Chester Henderson. He’s darn good and has a convincing case to be the No. 2 defenseman in Delco after Episcopal Academy All-Delco Kevin Gayhardt. But he got a lot of help from Joey Hoey, Matt Quagliariello and John Ferguson. There’s no superstar after Smyth, but there is a very good, cohesive unit that plays well together.
FOGO Mark Gurenlian was superb again, taking home eight of 12 faceoffs. Don’t think the Cougars have forgotten about the fact that they were up three over the Pioneers heading into the fourth quarter last time. This might be the best game of the day.
– It was a big game, so you know Robert Raucci was going to come up big for Garnet Valley. Ho-hum, two goals, two assists to help the Jaguars pull away from C.B. East, 8-3. Brock D’Annunzio came up big with another hat trick. Remember when Mitch Rose was a young starter and had his shaky moments? His development has been outrageously good over his career. Six more strong saves to beat the Patriots.
– I’d have to rack my brain a little bit (a scary thought), but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better freshman among Delco PIAA teams than Radnor’s Jack Wilson. The kid is going to be special. He’s got ice water in his veins. No moment is too big for him. Two more goals in a 10-5 win over C.B. South (ahem, someone picked that exact score in Thursday’s Daily Times). If Brendan Manderack‘s not an All-American, they should just stop giving out these awards. Eleven more saves for the future Drexel Dragon. So calm, so poised, so good.
Until next year, Penncrest
– I thought the Lions could give Conestoga a run for its money if everything fell right, but the Lions got in a deep hole early and never recovered. I’ll say this now, though. Penncrest will be a league contender next year. The Lions bring back probably more than anyone, from sniper Will Manganiello to FOGO/midfielder Dylan Protesto to young defensive studs Ryan Granger and Ryan Schultz. Those two have the potential to be the best defensive duo in Delco in two years, maybe even sooner.
Delco girls rout everyone.
What’s this, you say? The Delco girls crushed everyone. Garnet Valley proved it was criminally underrated by destroying Hatboro-Horsham, a team seeded higher than the Jaguars despite having no signature wins, and everyone else held serve? Let me show you my surprised face.
Wasn’t just Delco, though. Conestoga and Harriton basically went all hammer time, too. The quarterfinals are going to be absolute battles.
I get the feeling in talking to some that no one in their right mind wants to see Garnet Valley. That young team is kicking butt and taking names and the laundry list of names keeps getting longer and longer. However, the going gets tough against Radnor. Lindsay Frumer spearheaded a 15 (!!!!!!) turnover day as Radnor shut out (!!!) Spring-Ford. It’s going to be intriguing to watch those two teams go at it. No one is scoring more than Ashley Pyle is for the Jaguars, but Emily Mathewson, Haley Warden and Dana Davis are chipping in, too. The Red Raiders can counter that with Lyndsey Britton, Abby Junior, Taylor Quinn and goalie Grace Collins.
– As Harry Chaykun chronicles, Springfield routed Pennsbury because, well, yeah, that was expected. The Cougars get Conestoga, a team they led 7-1 at half before collapsing in the second half in a 13-8 loss. Don’t think that Springfield forgot about that. Last time, the Cougars stopped winning draws. Not so sure that’s going to be a problem this time.
– Strath Haven ended Kennett’s season, meaning that Great Valley is the lone remaining team from the Ches-Mont League. There are still six Central League teams left, so yes, it’s pretty obvious that the Patriots deserved the No. 2 seed for making it through that daunting gauntlet of a league schedule. It was definitely tougher than the Central League slate, that’s for sure.
If you can’t pick up the heavy sarcasm in that last line, you should probably stop reading.
The key to the Panthers’ dominance was balance and more balance. Kirsten Wilhelmsen and Morgan Glassford scored four goals each because I think they’re awarded two the minute they step onto the field. They can’t stop scoring! But it gets tougher here as Haven takes on Harriton. You’ll remember that the Panthers edged the Rams, 12-11, to force a four-way tie for the Central League title on the last day of the season. Lily Kovach came up strong in that one by limiting Caleigh Foust to one goal. Is it reasonable to expect that type of dominance again?