St. Joseph's Prep rallied to overcome a 4-0 deficit and make its debut in the PIAA boys' lacrosse tournament a success, earning a 10-7 win over Pennsbury on Wednesday night at Plymouth Whitemarsh High.
Senior attacker Brad James led the Hawks, the lone District 12 representative, with three goals as they improved to 17-4 and advanced to a second-round game against Manheim Township, a 9-7 first-round winner over Downingtown West.
Manheim Township is the District 3 champion.
The Falcons, the fourth-place team from District 1, finished 15-10.
"I knew we'd bounce back," said Hawks coach Eric Gregg, who had watched the Falcons score three goals in a 10-minute stretch of the first quarter. Junior midfielder Luke Matthews had two of those goals.
"I have faith in these guys," Gregg added. "They're the sort of kids who learn quickly. We were perhaps a little too cavalier, a little too casual at the start. We slowed the tempo a bit."
Senior Cory Schuerle and sophomore Anthony Marini agreed.
"Fortunately, we mentally stayed within ourselves when they got that early lead," Schuerle said. "We didn't fall apart."
"It's been a long season," Marini added. "Four goals, eight goals, it didn't matter. We knew we'd get back in it."
It was Schuerle who started the effort to get the Hawks back in the game. He scored their first goal with less than 30 seconds gone in the second quarter.
The Falcons then made it 5-1 before the Hawks ran off four straight goals to create a 5-5 tie at halftime. The Hawks took the lead, 6-5, on a Jeff Heath goal before Cal Hopkins tied it for Pennsbury.
St. Joseph's Prep went ahead, 7-6, on James' goal. The Falcons thought they had the goal to tie the score again, but the goal was disallowed by the officials.
The Prep then pulled away, aided by goals from James, Tim O'Rourke, and Marini.
The Hawks' goal total might have been higher if not for the outstanding work of Pennsbury goalie Drew Sweetland. The junior stopped 15 shots.
"That was certainly the toughest game with the heat and all," Sweetland said. "In the beginning, we had them scrambling, but unfortunately, they caught up with us."
Pennsbury 4 1 1 1 - 7
St. Joseph's Prep 0 5 2 3 - 10
Goals: P-Luke Matthews 2, Ricky Jutkiewicz 2, Calvin Hopkins 2, Andrew Probst; SJP-Brad James 3, Jeff Heath 2, Tim O'Rourke 2, Cory Schuerle, Will Jordan, Anthony Marini.
Saves: P-Drew Sweetland 15; SJP-Liam Correia 6, AJ Simon 2.