John Knebels
Sports Columnist

It has gotten to a point where any time La Salle College High School’s lacrosse team takes the field, anything less than a victory would be considered sort of shocking.

And that’s not really fair, but when you are the two-time defending state champion, high expectations come with the territory.

In the PIAA state title clash against Conestoga in Hershey June 12, the Explorers were unable to contend with the more experienced Pioneers’ offensive prowess. Looking to avenge a 7-3 loss to La Salle in last year’s state final, Conestoga did precisely that, emerging with a 10-6 victory. {{more}}

“This hurts a lot,” said junior Kevin Forster. “Losing is always hard, but saying goodbye to the seniors is even harder.”

Reaching the state final was quite an accomplishment for a team that graduated numerous spanision 1 players and several All-Americans. After squeaking past St. Joseph’s Prep in the Catholic League championship and dodging post-season tournament foes in impressive fashion, the Explorers were still considered the underdog against Conestoga, but the Pioneers didn’t buy into the hype.

“They were the defending champions and were quite capable of beating anybody, and we knew that going in,” said Conestoga captain and University of Maryland-bound Casey Ikeda. “They have a great program. We knew we had to be at the top of our game.”

La Salle coach Bill Leahy, whose teams have won three state titles (two Keystone Cups and one PIAA) under his tutelage, appreciated the praise. He deflected the plaudits to his players and coaching staff, namely defensive coordinator Tony Resch.

He also commended Conestoga, which actually fell behind 3-2 before scoring seven unanswered goals.

“No one expected us to get back here, so doing what we did this year is very impressive and I am very proud of the team,” said Leahy, who also lauded the outgoing seniors for their legacy. “We fell behind, and we’re not a team that is designed to playing like that. But give Conestoga all the credit. They have an excellent team.”

In La Salle’s 15-3 semifinal win over Seneca Valley, junior Jack Bogorowski scored four goals while senior midfielder Patrick Resch added three. The Explorers’ defense, arguably the key to its consistent success, was typically stingy, allowing only a handful of quality chances.

Although Conestoga managed to score 10 goals in the championship, it could have been much worse if La Salle’s defense had not thwarted numerous potential scoring opportunities.

“We take a lot of pride in playing defense,” said defender Ryan Saraceni. “We also try to help the offense as much as we can. We both work well together. I wish we all could have played better in the final, but that shouldn’t take away from what was a great season.”

Resch, who tallied one goal and three assists in the state final, agreed.

“We have so many hard-working kids on the team and coaches who prepare us to play our best,” said Resch. “We have a lot to be proud of, and I know the future is very bright.”

John Knebels can be reached at