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BOYS LAX: Another PCL Title Propels La Salle into the PIAA 3A State Tournament

By Zach Reagan Photos: Kathy Leister, 05/30/24, 11:30AM EDT


2024 PCL Champions - La Salle College High School - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister

By: Zach Reagan, SJP ‘23

Photos/Videos: Kathy Leister & Zach Reagan

GLENSIDE, PA - As the weather starts getting hot and the school year comes to a close that means one thing: PCL Championship season. On Thursday, May 23, La Salle College High School and St. Joseph’s Prep added another chapter to their historic athletic rivalry. La Salle’s seniors had a goal to add a fourth hubcap to their cabinet in four years, while St. Joe’s looked to get their first lacrosse championship in over a decade.

On this warm summer evening, it was a similar fate for the Explorers, as La Salle left the field hoisting yet another PCL boys’ lacrosse plaque after defeating the Hawks 11-3.

This win marked La Salle’s eighth consecutive PCL lacrosse championship, and the Explorer’s 27th in 31 years.

“Our goal on day one is first to win the Catholic League championship. Every year that’s our main focus and to be able to do it again against a very good St. Joe’s team, [they’re] very well-coached, they are very tough. It stinks that only one of us can win it and move on to the PIAA playoffs, because they are very well-deserving of it,” said La Salle head coach Robert Forster. “But I’m happy for our seniors. They’ve done a great job all year leading the charge.”

The venue of this bout was Arcadia University, but it took a little bit to see some activity. The first seven to eight minutes were sloppy, and definitely due to a bit of nerves on both sides. The Explorers dominated possession and were able to get a couple of shots off, while the Hawks could not hold onto the ball for anything.

2024 PCL Championship Highlights by Kathy Leister for PSD:

La Salle's senior class - PSD Photo by Kathy Leister

La Salle capitalized on a missed catch from the Prep, and junior Max Wickersham, who has committed to Johns Hopkins University, was able to draw first blood with four minutes left in the first quarter. Less than 30 seconds later, sophomore Will Trymbiski tacked on another goal after La Salle won the opening faceoff and ran right down the field.

For the rest of the first quarter, St. Joe’s still couldn’t hold on to the ball but the Hawks were bailed out down the stretch by some solid goalie play from junior Keegan Dunn in the crease. However, it started to become a theme with the Prep goalie to float outlet passes that would often get intercepted around midfield.

As the second quarter started, St. Joe’s finally got their act together. They were passing efficiently in their offensive half, and it only took two minutes in the half for them to get on the board via an excellent cut in from freshman Dominic Flynn.

After Flynn’s goal, there was a bit of a tug of war, with La Salle and St. Joe’s taking their time in setting up meaningful offensive possessions. Both teams got in some quality shots, but the Hawks were able to get the next goal, an underhanded snipe from junior Luke Bieberbach, and tie up the game at two apiece.

The second quarter was by far the most active of the contest, with multiple goal line scuffles, shots off the woodwork, and a yard sale that would impress players in the PLL. La Salle put in two more goals as well; Wickersham netted his second despite a smothering contest, and Paul Van Bastelaar, who is committed to the University of Pennsylvania, got his first after a vicious fake right in front of the net.

Luckily for the Hawks, Bieberbach was able to get a second goal of his own to make the score 4-3 in favor of La Salle by halftime.

Unfortunately for St. Joe’s, this game was all but decided by the end of the third quarter. The Hawks showed some fight, with a couple of big hits and loose ball tussles, but the theme from the first quarter came back to haunt them, in that, they could not hold onto the ball.

“After halftime, I brought all of the offense together and coach (Robert Forster), and we talked it out. Talked about what’s working, what’s not. And we came to the conclusion that we weren’t hitting our shots and in the second half we starting hitting our shots and they started to fall,” said Van Bastelaar.

La Salle head coach Rob Forster gives major props to St. Joseph's Prep and his senior class - PSD Video by Zach REagan

Senior Paul Van Bastelaar talks about leaving a lasting legacy at La Salle - PSD Video by Zach Reagan

La Salle junior Max Wickersham, who scored 4 goals in the championship, talks about the exceptional leadership of his senior class - PSD Video by Zach Reagan

La Salle capitalized with long stints in the Prep zone, and junior Daryl Kuriger was the first to strike with seven minutes to go in the quarter. From there, St. Joe’s just lost their fire and La Salle went on and scored six more goals in the fourth quarter alone.

When it was all said and done, Wickersham and Van Bastelaar each had four goals on the night en route to an 11-3 victory.

With the win, La Salle also captured the District 12 3A title. The Explorers will enter the PIAA state tournament as the No. 17 ranked team in the country by USA Lacrosse Magazine. The first round of the PIAA 3A state tournament will begin on Tuesday, June 4, with the championship being held on Saturday, June 15 at Penn State University’s Panzer Stadium.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing, working on conditioning and working our sets and trusting our guys. I think our chemistry is really starting to click here at the end of the year and our coaching is unbelievable. If we rely on that, I think we’ll do pretty good,” said Wickersham.

Across the league: Today, Devon Prep and Lansdale Catholic will play for the D12 2A title at Northeast High School with a chance to represent the PCL in the PIAA tournament.