Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse gaining confidence

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 5:54 p.m.

Tim Hastings has seen some changes in his team in recent weeks.

The Sewickley Academy boys lacrosse coach has observed a group of players with more confidence — and as a result, more victories — to show for their efforts.

“I felt coming into the season that this was a team with a lot of potential,” Hastings said. “We came out of the chute playing OK.

“We were close, but we weren't quite there.”

Hastings points to a 10-3 loss at Shady Side Academy on April 22 as the turning point of the season.

“We played one really good half (against Shady Side Academy),” Hastings said. “We lost the game, but that's where we really started clicking.”

The Panthers (7-6) began this week having won four of their last five games. The only loss during that stretch was an 8-7 double-overtime defeat at North Allegheny.

Close games have been the norm for Sewickley Academy this season. The Panthers have been involved in five games decided by one goal, posting a 2-3 record in those contests.

The team's most recent one-goal win came last Friday at the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

Sewickley Academy beat Rocky River (Ohio), 9-8, on Friday afternoon, then posted a 5-2 victory over Detroit Jesuit (Mich.) on Saturday morning.

Along with his team's surging confidence, Hastings has seen more continuity and sharper execution from his players.

“We've been dropping fewer passes,” Hastings said. “That means fewer turnovers and more chances to score as a result.”

Prior to last weekend's MSLCA tournament, the Panthers had a trio of players who had registered double figures in goals this season.

Senior C.R. Hrycenko leads the Panthers with 12 markers, followed by sophomores Ryder MacDougall and Michael Foley, who have 10 apiece.

Hrycenko is able to take quality shots from his attack spot despite getting plenty of attention from opposing defenses every time he takes the field.

“He's been a major force for us the past three years,” Hastings said of his leading goal-getter. “Teams focus on him, but he's very strong. He can break double-teams and still get a shot off.”

Senior midfielder Keegan MacDougall has a team-best six assists to go along with his nine goals so far.

The defensive corps is led by senior Barrett Fowkes.

“He's had an outstanding year,” Hastings said of his captain. “He's a great one-on-one defender.

“Very few people even try to take him one-on-one because they know they're going to have the ball taken away.”

Sophomore goalie Jackson O'Neill has turned away 130 shots on the year.

Sewickley Academy entered play this week needing wins in its final two section contests to qualify for the postseason.

The Panthers were scheduled to host Bethel Park on Tuesday afternoon and travel to Central Catholic on Wednesday to conclude section play. Results of those games were not available at press time.

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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