Sewickley Academy, Quaker Valley boys lacrosse teams enter season with high expectations

| Thursday, March 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A speedy, experienced Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse team expects to do better than it did a year ago, when it was eliminated early in the WPIAL Division I playoffs.

The Panthers lost top scorers Rob Kendall (45 goals, 29 assists) and Charlie Carbeau (30 goals, 15 assists) to graduation.

But many players return, including junior C.R. Hrycenko, who had 23 goals and 23 assists a year ago.

“We were pretty quick last year, too,” coach Tim Hastings said. “The boys are getting bigger and faster.”

Senior captains Jake Mulholland and Jack Keller, a powerful left-hander, will play at midfield, where they will be joined by Jack Foley, another senior with outstanding shooting skills, Hastings said.

Senior Hunter Ligo is back after playing in every game as a goalie last year.

One of three juniors besides Hrycenko, Chase Bly is strong in pursuing ground balls as a defender.

Keegan MacDougall, a midfielder, also is strong defensively.

Defender Barrett Fowkes possesses quick feet honed by playing basketball.

“Because (Sewickley Academy doesn't) have a football team, we're not that physical, but we're skilled,” Hastings said. “Jake Mulholland, who played soccer, is nimble, too.”

The WPIAL champion in 2010, Sewickley Academy was upset in the first round of the playoffs by Pine-Richland last season, a loss that still rankles some players.

“We're using it as motivation,” Hrycenko said.

The Panthers have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs twice in the past four years.

In 2011, they were WPIAL runners-up to Mt. Lebanon, which beat them in the first round in 2009.

Sewickley Academy also finished second to the Blue Devils in Section 1 a year ago.

“Mt. Lebanon has become our biggest rival,” Hrycenko said.

“Our first goal is to win the WPIAL title (regardless of the opponent), but beating Mt. Lebanon isn't far behind,” Mulholland said.

After qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs the past four years, Quaker Valley is rebuilding.

“Half our roster was turned over,” coach Bill Marcotte said. “There are a lot of new faces, but I'm optimistic.”

“We're young, but have some good players,” agreed senior captain Garrett Powell.

Quaker Valley suffered major losses when Jacob Puyana and attackman Charlie Wilson graduated.

The team's leading scorer, Puyana had 40 goals and 18 assists last season.

With Powell and sophomore Aaron Cunninghman returning, the Quakers will be strong defensively.

One of the top players in Division II, Section 3, junior Jake Trovato is a stalwart at midfield, Marcotte said.

Junior attackman Jimmy Perkins, another top returnee, joins the team after competing in the hockey playoffs. Perkins doesn't expect switching sports to be a problem.

“Playing hockey or lacrosse, you're always using a stick,” he said.

The Quakers lost to Butler in the first round of the playoffs a year ago, the fourth straight season they were eliminated early.

In 2011, they fell to eventual champion Hampton.

Hampton also beat the Quakers in 2009 and 2010.

“With teams moving up in division, we should be more of a threat,” said senior co-captain Chris MacPherson.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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