Gateway opens home slate against seasoned Ohio squad
The Gateway varsity and junior varsity boys lacrosse teams hoped to play their first regular-season home games as a fully WPIAL-sanctioned team on March 27 against North Hills.
Weather cancelled that game, so Gateway turned to Saturday afternoon for the historic home opener at Antimarino Stadium, and sunny and dry early-spring weather greeted the Gators players, as well as the players from the Penn-Trafford and Pickerington Central (Ohio) high school teams.
The Gateway squads didn't see the outcomes they had hoped for — the varsity team suffered a 15-0 loss to Pickerington, while the JV lost to Pickerington, 11-1 — but head coach John Washington took positives from the first home game.
“Unfortunately, the only thing people see sometimes is the score,” Washington said. “But we've made great improvements in several areas. We made great strides with our defensive middies, and those are the kids who will end up carrying this team. We have to win faceoffs.
“We were winning faceoffs, but we weren't possessing the ball enough to get it down and set up our offense. But the effort and hustle was there. The strategies work, and the kids are in the right position. It's just little mistakes here and there.”
Washington said he was impressed with the pressure that Pickerington Central put on Gateway in both the varsity and JV contests.
“A team that good, they don't make many mistakes,” Washington said.
“When you try to play aggressively, you sometimes draw penalties. They are learning, though, and there are a lot of good things happening with this program.”
It was a special homecoming for 1988 Gateway graduate Dave Slovina, an assistant coach in the Pickerington Central boys lacrosse program.
Slovina played football for the Gators during the championship years nearly three decades ago, and he then served 20 years in the U.S. Navy.
“We were looking forward to this since November,” Washington said.
“Pickerington makes this trip to Pittsburgh every year, and they wanted to add us to the schedule. They have played tough WPIAL teams like Mt. Lebanon, Sewickley Academy and Shady Side Academy in past seasons. What happened to us today sometimes happens to them when they play those teams.”
The Gateway varsity team opened its season April 3 at Chartiers Valley, and the Gators suffered a 10-2 loss.
Senior Rob Milne and junior Mark Wiesemann scored the goals for the Gators.
Gateway's varsity and JV squads play at Moon on Monday, and the games are set to start at 6:30 p.m. The Gators play at home again on Wednesday against Latrobe. The times are 6 p.m. for the JV and 7:30 for the varsity.
“We're still growing, and we accept these challenges,” Washington said.
“We are staying positive, celebrating the positives and building on them.”
Mars 9, Gateway 8
Gateway held an 8-4 lead at halftime of Monday's varsity game at Mars, but the Planets rallied for the double-overtime victory.
“It was heartbreaking,” Washington said.
“We felt we had the game won. Inexperience hurt us and let them get back in the game.”
Junior Dylan Roney tallied a hat trick for the Gators, while Milne and juniors Gaurav Pandey, Jack Washington, Sam Passalinqua and Greg Paladin each scored a goal.
“The good news is that we're that close,” coach Washington said. “We stayed optimistic and were able to take a lot of positives from the game. We are competitive, but we have to close things out.”
Coach Washington said cutting down on penalties is a primary focus moving forward.
Gateway suffered a 2-1 loss in the JV game. Sophomore Devin Sadler tallied the goal for the Gators.
Michael Live is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.