Site last updated: Thursday, June 13, 2024

Log In

Reset Password
Butler County's great daily newspaper

Mars boys, girls lacrosse teams earn WPIAL semifinal wins

Running to Robert Morris
Mars’ Hailey Long (3) scores against Penn-Trafford’s Maura Spadone (15) during the 2024 WPIAL Class 2A girls semifinals on Monday. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle

SHALER TWP — During Monday’s WPIAL Class 2A boys lacrosse semifinal, Mars pinned a baker’s dozen on the Shaler High School scoreboard.

More importantly, the Planets gave Hampton no ingredients to work with in a 13-0 win that sends Coach Bob Marcoux’s crew to bracket’s title game yet again.

“We’re really good when we’re loud and we’re aggressive — and I thought they did both really, really well,” Marcoux said of his defense’s performance. “Jack Mueller played a great game, Luke Spreng was really good in goal. But it all starts with Jack McKenzie on face-offs.”

Seniors Ryan Blake and Mackenzie and junior Ian Coulter staked Mars (16-3) to a three-goal lead just over 2:30 in. Along with junior Sean Brennan, Blake and Coulter would score again before the first quarter was through.

The Talbots (13-7) notched four of their six total shots on goal in that initial frame, all of which were turned away by Spreng, a junior.

Mars’ Hailey Long (3) scores against Penn-Trafford during the 2024 WPIAL Class 2A girls semifinals on Monday. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle

“They’ve got a couple good poles and a well-coached defense,” Hampton coach Andy DeMichiei said. “I think just the intensity and energy and effort from our offense wasn’t there today.”

At one point in the third quarter, down by 10, the Talbots pieced together a lengthy possession, but couldn’t yield a shot on goal.

Mars’ Anna McGrath, right, scores against Penn-Trafford durog the Planets 16-5 WPIAL 2A girls lacrosse semifinal victory. Monday Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle

“We stayed with our match-ups and we didn’t get beat on-ball,” Marcoux said. “We also had slides lined up, too, so they didn’t really have any place that they could go with it. I really like the aggression and I really liked the communication.”

Mars’ Vincenzo Grieco (24) goes behind the net to gain possession against Hampton defender Gabe Ginelli during the Planets’ 13-0 WPIAL 2A semifinal win on Monday.. Ralph LoVuolo/Special to the Butler Eagle 5/20/2024

Senior Cole Yoshioka ended up scooping a ground ball and dishing it to Coulter for his third marker of the night.

“A shutout is always the goal there,” Yoshioka said. “We knew we were playing possession. We were like, ‘We’re going to stop them. We don’t want anything to happen.’ We saw the ball on the ground and I knew our defense was gassed.

“Thankfully I got that ground ball and we went on to score, then we went back to play more defense.”

Spreng made his sixth save with five minutes left, denying an attempt with the sun in his eyes.

“Going into the championship, it’s the best thing you can have,” Spreng said of the shutout. “It makes us feel like we’re the top team and we’re meant to be here.”

Senior Enzo Grieco and Blake each had three goals in the win. Junior Ben Bowser had another.

Riveting Response

In the nightcap of the WPIAL semifinal double-header, Mars’ girls powered out to a 7-2 advantage just over 16 minutes in.

“We wanted to keep momentum from the draw and really control the team and they did a great job with that,” Planets coach Abby Latona said.

The impetus did momentarily fall out of Mars’ hands, though, as a pair of markers by No. 4 Penn-Trafford’s Georgia Vislosky 5:45 apart cut that lead down to three.

A three-goal Planets run ended up propelling the program to a 16-5 win over the Warriors (16-3) and its fourth consecutive Class 2A title game appearance.

“We just had to get it back,” said senior McKenna Merritt, who netted two of those goals to return the energy to her team’s side. “I trusted my teammates. I just shot the ball. I trusted our skills. ... I knew we could score and get back into it.”

Sophomore Anna McGrath scored the other and two more in the fourth quarter. Seniors Kennedy Kolson (4 goals) and Mya Cote (2), freshman Hailey Long (3), and sophomore Tess McGrath (1) also scored in the win. Merritt and Anna McGrath both had a hat trick.

So what does the chance to take three of four district crowns mean for Mars (17-2-1)?

“It means everything,” Latona said. “We were never satisfied. We always wanted to hustle like the underdog, even though we were No. 1. ... We have been working at this since September. These girls have been putting in so much work in order to get back to this moment.”

More in Sports

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

* indicates required