Seton-La Salle, Mt. Lebanon win WPIAL boys lacrosse titles
Mike Ermer already was wet from the intermittent rain Thursday night at Baldwin High School.
The Mt. Lebanon boys lacrosse coach really got drenched by his players with a bucket of ice water halfway through the medals ceremony moments after the Blue Devils held off North Allegheny, 9-8, to win the WPIAL Division I championship.
A chilly Ermer was soaked to the bone, but he didn't seem to mind.
“It's a good cold,” he said, shivering.
A pair of sophomores figured in the deciding goal for Mt. Lebanon (16-4) as Sam White, with an assist from Brian Kelly, scored in the fourth quarter to lift the top-seeded Blue Devils over second-seeded North Allegheny (15-5).
Both teams already had qualified for the PIAA playoffs by winning their WPIAL semifinals on Monday.
Doran Graham and Chris O'Dell scored three goals each for Mt. Lebanon, whose three-goal advantage in the first quarter was the largest lead in a tightly contested game.
“We're lucky to get out with a win,” Ermer said. “NA was getting to loose balls and outhustling us. We went into halftime and I put it on our seniors again. I told them, ‘You have to make plays.' They came out and played with energy. We stuck together as a team tonight.”
It is Mt. Lebanon's third championship in five years since the WPIAL began sponsoring lacrosse as a varsity sport. The Blue Devils also defeated North Allegheny, 9-6, during the regular season.
In the first game for the Division II title, sophomore Connor Quinlan scored four goals and Matthew McGervey and Colin Bashaw added three apiece to lead top-seeded Seton-La Salle to a 13-8 victory over third-seeded Quaker Valley.
“I'm having the time of my life,” first-year Seton-La Salle coach Brian Yates said, waving his cap as he celebrated his team's victory.
Seton-La Salle (16-1) will not advance to the state playoffs because the PIAA excludes Division II programs from the postseason. The Rebels, nonetheless, have made huge gains in just four seasons since the program began with a 1-12 record in 2010 under former coach Josh Kurtz.
Kurtz flew into Pittsburgh on Thursday from his home in Boston, where he was required to transfer last year and witnessed the game.
In a jubilant Locker room afterward, Kurtz told Seton-La Salle's players, many of whom he previously coached, that it was an extremely proud moment.
“This is my baby. I started the program,” he said. “In four years, you did it. You won a championship. This is incredible. I'm honored to be a part of it.”
Yates, who took over the program when Kurtz departed, said he owes a lot to the Rebels' former coach.
“You can see how he developed this team into a winner,” Yates said. “A lot of hard work has produced competitive and unselfish players. It's a tribute to him. He set the foundation.”
Seton-La Salle led at halftime, 6-3, and, after a short rain delay at the start of the third quarter, built its advantage to 10-3 before Quaker Valley (13-4), which got five goals from junior Jimmy Perkins, closed within 10-6.
But the Rebels were too strong.
“We couldn't overcome their physical play,” Quaker Valley coach Bill Marcotte said. “They played with great toughness.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.