HERSHEY, Pa. - The two best teams in Pennsylvania are high school boys' lacrosse powerhouses. They hail from right here in our backyard: the La Salle Explorers, representing Wyndmoor, and the Conestoga Pioneers, the pride of Berwyn.
La Salle (21-4) is ranked first in the state by Phillylacrosse.com and third in the LaxPower.com national rankings. The Explorers are also ranked 15th nationally by Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse.
Conestoga (24-2) isn't far behind: The Pioneers are the state's second-ranked team by Phillylacrosse.com and are eighth nationally in the LaxPower.com rankings. Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse lists Conestoga as the nation's 13th-ranked squad. (The Pioneers will likely drop a few spots when the new rankings are released.)
The national powerhouses squared off Saturday at HersheyPark Stadium. La Salle prevailed, 7-3, to win the first PIAA boys' lacrosse state title in front of an estimated 3,000 fans.
It was truly a must-see event that lived up to the hype, even though the Explorers dominated the second half.
Junior midfielder Pete Bowers gave the Pioneers a 3-2 lead with 4 minutes, 7 seconds to play in the second quarter. It was Conestoga's last goal.
After scoring two goals before intermission, the Explorers added three more scores in the second half to take a four-goal victory.
This was a dream matchup on a beautiful day. For the fans, it had the excitement and anticipation of an NCAA final. Even the PIAA representatives on hand kept their eyes glued to the action.
In the end, the Explorers celebrated as the Pioneers stood in silence. But neither team had anything to be ashamed of. Both are great representatives of Pennsylvania.
Three things about last week
1. How about North Penn pitcher Eric Ruth? He struck out 16 and scattered four hits last Monday to pick up a 6-0 victory over Chambersburg in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs. The senior followed with a four-hit, seven-strikeout performance in Saturday's 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Council Rock North.
2. St. Joseph's Prep's baseball team upset West Chester East, 2-1, in Saturday's Class AAAA quarterfinal.
3. The unsung-hero awards go to La Salle lacrosse players Mark DiFrangia and Mike Donohoe. The defenders' contributions helped pave the way for the Explorers' PIAA state championship.
Three things about this week
1. A historic moment for Titans. The Central Bucks South softball team faces Shaler in today's 2 p.m. PIAA Class AAAA semifinal at Shippensburg University. It will be the Titans' first state semifinal appearance ever.
2. Catholic League 2 for 2? The Neumann-Goretti and St. Joe's Prep baseball teams look to advance to Friday's state championship games in Altoona. This is the Philadelphia Catholic League's first season as an active PIAA member.
3. Something to see. Several of the region's high school football players will participate in this weekend's Football University camp at Widener University. The camp, which puts players through on- and off-the-field training, will run Friday through Sunday.
Pompey's Super Seven
Here are the top seven spring teams in Southeastern Pennsylvania, regardless of sport:
1. La Salle boys' lacrosse. You really missed out if you didn't watch the Explorers play this season. They were something special.
2. Conestoga boys' lacrosse. Even a 7-3 PIAA state championship loss to La Salle doesn't take away from the Pioneers' magical season.
3. Penn Charter baseball. It's a shame that the Inter-Ac isn't part of the PIAA. If it were, the Quakers would be on the verge of winning a state title.
4. Abington girls' track and field. I'll go on record and predict that the Class AAA state champion Ghosts will add state titles in 2010 and 2011.
5. Radnor girls' lacrosse. No surprise here. We all knew the Red Raiders were going to win the inaugural PIAA state title.
6. Central Bucks South softball. The Titans are Southeastern Pennsylvania's only hope to bring a state softball crown back to the area.
7. Pennsbury boys' volleyball. Coach Justin Fee and his Falcons had another stellar season in Fairless Hills.
Under consideration: Harriton boys' tennis, Malvern Prep baseball, Neumann-Goretti baseball, St. Joseph's Prep lacrosse, Swenson girls' track and field.