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Mars boys lacrosse continues run of WPIAL titles

MOON TWP — Watching Mars pile up goals Wednesday night was disheartening for South Fayette’s boys lacrosse team.

Mars’ Jack Dwyer, left, covers a South Fayette player during the 2024 WPIAL 2A Boys Lacrosse Championship Wednesday night at Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Butler Eagle

Having next to no time to answer spelled complete defeat for the Lions.

Mars built a 6-0 lead before South Fayette managed its first shot attempt — nearly 16 minutes into the game.

The Planets’ WPIAL dominance continued with a 16-5 victory for the Class 2A crown at Robert Morris University’s Joe Walton Stadium.

It is the eighth straight district championship for Mars (17-3). The Planets also defeated South Fayette for the title last year, 16-7.

“It’s awesome to be part of this,” said senior attackman Ryan Blake, who scored three times against the Lions. “When you think about all the time we put into it, during the season it’s seven days a week for at least two hours every day. It’s all about preparation and it’s great when it pays off.”

Mars’ Sean Brennan (19) attempts a shot against South Fayette during the 2024 WPIAL 2A Boys Lacrosse Championship Wednesday night at Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Butler Eagle

The Lions (20-2) had won 20 straight games, but were unable to get in any kind of rhythm early on. Blake opened the scoring for Mars just 39 seconds into the contest.

The edge was 3-0 after one quarter and 9-0 at halftime.

The Lions had one lengthy possession in the first half — lasting over a minute and a half midway through the first quarter. Mars’ Ben Bowser forced one of his several turnovers to send the action the other way.

“We knew South Fayette is really good in transition, really good in the midfield, but when we don’t have the ball, the defense’s responsibility is to get it back,” said Mars coach Bob Marcoux

Mars’ Luke Spreng (41) gets set to make a save against South Fayette during the 2024 WPIAL 2A Boys Lacrosse Championship Wednesday night at Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township. Jared Todhunter/ Special to the Butler Eagle. 05/22/2024

“Our guys may have been a bit too hyped for this game and we had to calm them down on the sideline.”

The Planets’ quick-strike ability was best exemplified by four total goals, a pair in the second period and two more in the third. In the first sequence, Henry Saver and Enzo Grieco found the net five seconds apart.

Ian Coulter and Jack McKenzie later topped it, scoring goals just four seconds apart.

Ryan Blake (12) of Mars celebrates a goal with Enzo Grieco (24) during the 2024 WPIAL 2A Boys Lacrosse Championship Wednesday night at Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Butler Eagle. 05/22/2024

McKenzie’s ability to consistently win faceoffs, nearly 80 percent of the time, has been key to Mars’ success and was on full display Wednesday.

“Coach Savage (Kyle, assistant) says if I lose a faceoff, forget about it and get the next one,” said McKenzie.

“We’re really good when we have the ball and Jack helps tilt the field in our favor,” said Marcoux.

Coulter’s goal, his third of the night, pushed the Mars lead to 12-0 with 9:41 left in the third and the mercy clock began running.

The Mars boys lacrosse claimed its eighth consecutive WPIAL 2A Championship by defeating South Fayette, 16-5, Wednesday night at Joe Walton Stadium in Moon Township. Jred Todhunter/Special to the Butler Eagle. 05/22/2024

South Fayette then scored three straight — two goals from Bryce Watkins and one from Wade Scholar.

“It was too little, too late,” said Lions coach Shawn Leydig. “Mars has talent and we have talent, but they came out hotter than we did tonight.”

Grieco scored four goals to lead Mars. Dylan Phillips scored twice while Jack Dwyer and Jack Tirch both found the net once.

Luke Spreng made four saves for the Planets. South Fayette’s Travis Watkins made 10 saves.

Mars will have almost two weeks off before the state playoffs begin June 4. The Planets have played in three straight state championship games. They won it all in 2022, but fell to Marple Newtown last year.

“Getting back to Penn State and winning it has been the main goal all season,” said Blake.

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