By John Knebels
Photos/James Williamson for PSD
DREXEL HILL – Toward the end of the school year, La Salle High School’s lacrosse team dominated rival St. Joseph’s Prep in the Philadelphia Catholic League championship.
To many, the 10-4 victory on May 21 behind three goals apiece by junior Andrew Kelly, junior Charlie Huntley, and senior Mason Lazasz – the Explorers’ 24th PCL title in 28 years and fifth straight – was a foregone milestone and a segue to bigger and better fortunes.
Fair or not, area lacrosse zealots opined that the PCL title was not a big deal because the Explorers had run roughshod over every opponent during the regular season, and what mattered most lie ahead – an opportunity to defend their 2019 state title since the 2020 campaign was wiped out because of the coronavirus.
But in the first round of the PIAA state playoffs on June 1, La Salle was stunned by Wissahickon, 10-9, despite a flurry of goals toward the end of regulation that nearly forced overtime.
Despite the narrative, La Salle’s players insisted that winning a Catholic League title still conveys an enormous cause for pride and celebration.
“In my opinion, a PCL championship is completely separate from winning a state championship,” said senior Paul Jennings, who next year will play football at the University of Pennsylvania. “Our mentality is to take it one step at a time and not get distracted by what the future may or may not hold. It’s about coming together as a team and representing La Salle lacrosse as the great program it is.”
Like most if not all of his teammates, senior Luke Hreshko – the PCL’s Most Valuable Player – was in a hurry to leave the venue not for a lack of thrill, but because the junior/senior prom was to begin in about two hours.
Recently, as he reflected on the Explorers’ overall body of work, Hreshko focused on the team’s many positives.
“Absolutely, winning the PCL and losing in the state tournament makes winning the PCL mean that much more,” said Hreshko. “While it stunk losing, it made me appreciate every moment and opportunity we had together as a team.”
Almost every time La Salle took the field, its opponent was in a no-lose situation. Win, and bask merrily in an enormous upset. Lose with dignity, and be pleased with your effort. Lose big, well, most teams lose big when they play La Salle.
Not an easy course to navigate throughout an entire spring.
“While there were high expectations for us, and I had high ones for us, too, losing didn’t detract from all of our accomplishments this season,” said Hreshko. “I couldn’t be prouder of our team and everything we went through together this year.
“La Salle lacrosse, for me, isn’t about winning or counting the accomplishments, but being in the moment with a group of guys who would do anything for each other. While winning the PCL means a lot, winning it and holding the hubcap up with 40 guys together is what will make me remember and be forever proud of my senior season.”