Easton tops Bears for D-11 title
BETHLEHEM - As the District 11 Class 3A girls lacrosse championship got underway, things looked good for Pleasant Valley.
It took just five minutes for the Bears to take control of the game, which held not only a district championship but a trip to states for the winner.
For Pleasant Valley, its perfect season was also at stake.
All systems were go until two key changes switched the momentum, and Easton mounted a fierce comeback to swipe the gold medals, the trip to states, and end the Bears perfect season away with a 12-10 victory.
The big three got it started for top seed Pleasant Valley, with junior Riley Green, sophomore Devon Bush, and freshman Rylee Rath all getting goals – two for Bush – within the first five minutes of the opening draw.
Easton scored its first goal just under six minutes into the game, which in any other circumstance would have been early in the contest, but considering the third-seeded Red Rovers were already down by four goals, it was just a little speed bump that got in the way, as was their second goal that made it 4-2 with 17:56 left on the clock.
The Bears (21-1) erased those two goals with two of their own, the third and fourth for Bush, to take back their four-goal lead at 6-2. Pleasant Valley had an answer for everything. Easton got its third goal, and Bush added her fifth of the game, and the Bears kept that four-goal distance between them and the Red Rovers.
With 2:36 left on the clock in the first half, momentum started to stroll over to the Easton side. A goal by Reese Kreiger made it 8-4. One from Madison Ibach cut the deficit to three goals, and finally, Jocelyn Morgan scored to make it to 8-6.
Or did she? The goal started with a clearing pass from goalie Olivia Heryla to Ibach at midfield. Ibach caught the ball with :03 showing on the clock, took a few steps and threw to Morgan, who took a couple more steps and fired the ball past Abygail Borger and into the back of the net.
Pleasant Valley immediately argued that time had run out, and after the officials conferred, they decided that the horn – which is not the loudest – had not sounded and that the goal was going to stand. As the game went to halftime, the Bears appeared to be focused on the call, while Easton focused on continuing its comeback.
Those three unanswered goals quickly turned into seven. Kreiger eventually tied the game at 8-8. and just 22 seconds later, Kreiger added another, and then another to not only give Easton its first lead of the night, but a two-goal cushion at 10-8.
Pleasant Valley had gone 18:59 without a goal until Rath found Green to make it 10-9.
But it was Easton which was now willing to swap goals, and it did just that when Morgan scored her fifth goal of the game for the Rovers.
Somewhere around the midway point of the second half, the game had become quite physical. Bush received a yellow card, followed closely by one to Easton’s Tyler Long. Shortly after Bush came back on the field, she scored her sixth goal of the game to make it 11-10.
Easton bought some insurance when Lydia Attisano played a ball that rebounded off Borger and in to the net to restore a two-goal cushion.
Easton received two yellow cards – one to the coaching staff and one to Ibach – leaving them down two players with 3:02 left to play.
The Red Rovers went into slow motion, content to hold the ball as long as possible and then pass it around to take as much time off the clock. Eventually, the clock ran down and Easton took the district championship.
… Easton made two changes during the first half that swung the tide. After repeatedly failing to win draws, Kreiger came on to take draws and was able to be effective in that role, giving the Red Rovers’ offense more opportunities. Defensively, Heryla came on to play in goal with Easton down 8-3 and made five saves to limit the scoring for Pleasant Valley.
THE ROAD AHEAD
… Easton will play the fifth-place team from District 1 in the PIAA tournament. Southern Lehigh, which won the 2A gold medals, will play the number-two seed from District 1. The boys’ 2A and 3A contests will be played tonight at Lehigh University, with Northwestern Lehigh facing Allentown Central Catholic in a rematch of last year’s 2A district final. Parkland and Freedom meet in the 3A final. The PIAA tourney begins on Tuesday June 6.