Boys lacrosse notebook: Blue Demons scripting a special season

Downingtown East’s Ian Riehl, left, is checked by Kennett’s Logan Tydryszewski in the first quarter of their matchup at DiSerafino Stadium on Tuesday April 17, 2012    Staff Photo by Vinny Tennis
Downingtown Easts Ian Riehl, left, is checked by Kennetts Logan Tydryszewski in the first quarter of their matchup at DiSerafino Stadium on Tuesday April 17, 2012 Staff Photo by Vinny Tennis

Kennett Square is known to many as the Mushroom Capital of the World.

These days, the hometown boys lacrosse team is doing its best to put the borough on the map for other reasons.

With a 6-5 victory at Downingtown West on Tuesday, Kennett snapped the Whippets 30-game winning streak against Ches-Mont opponents and made a big statement to the rest of the league in the process. Kennett (3-1, 8-1) now sits tied with Bishop Shanahan atop the league standings, and all that separates the Blue Demons from an unblemished mark is a double-overtime loss at Henderson.

After hovering around the .500 mark the past few seasons, the Blue Demons are looking more and more like a legitimate league title contender with every game. After all, Downingtown West hadnt lost to a Ches-Mont foe since 2010, and few would have expected Kennett to be the one to end the streak. Except, of course, the surging Blue Demons, who have now knocked off both Downingtown schools in the same season for the first time in program history.


Thats crazy, coach Bob Allvord said when informed of Wests dominance over the last several years. To be honest, these last few games against the Downingtowns, thats never been done. We definitely believe in the kids as a staff, and theyre working their butts off. The program is turning the corner. Theres no doubt.

With a pair of electric attackmen in Matt Worrall and Kevin McQuiston leading the way on offense, and a defense back-stopped by standout goalie Zach Longacre, Kennett had all the ingredients for a special season. The Blue Demons just needed some time to put it all together. They have, and the rest of the league is taking notice. In Allvords fourth season at the helm, Kennett is seeing the fruits of its labor in spades.

Its rewarding for the kids that our program might finally be getting some respect, Allvord said. Kennett hasnt been the strongest program, and through a lot of effort of a lot of people, the program is really turning the corner.

After a home game against Penncrest on Saturday, Kennett heads to Avon Grove next Tuesday for a critical Ches-Mont showdown in mushroom country. In a jammed-up Ches-Mont with nine of 11 programs sitting on two league losses or fewer, its looking like the Blue Demons have as good a chance as anyone to claim the crown.

Hopefully, Allvord said, people wont be taking Kennett lightly anymore.

Somehow, I dont think they will.

When Great Valley made a run all the way to the District 1 semifinals a year ago, it took the local lacrosse world by surprise.

With essentially their entire team back, the Patriots werent going to sneak up on anybody this time. On the contrary, less than two weeks ago Great Valley was making waves for the wrong reasons.

Billed as one of the top contenders in a loaded Ches-Mont League, coach Tony Vernas group sandwiched a pair of losses to the Downingtowns around an uninspiring, 13-10 victory over a 2-7 Strath Haven squad. Missing starting goaltender Peter Hayes and standout defenseman Joey Ward due to suspension, the Patriots looked nothing like the unit expected to be one of the districts best. With its two defensive stalwarts back in the fold, Great Valley is back with a vengeance.

Its a small sample size, but Great Valleys last two games have been more than enough to show what a difference a pair of players in key positions can make. First, the Patriots shackled an explosive Bishop Shanahan unit averaging more than 10 goals per game, shutting down the Eagles prolific attack in an 8-3 victory last week. Then came Tuesday, and an early contender for game of the year in the area.

In a back-and-forth slugfest, Great Valley outlasted Avon Grove, 13-12, in overtime, handing the Red Devils their first loss of the season courtesy of a Timmy Lamb game-winner with less than a minute remaining in the extra session. While Avon Grove came in as the states top-ranked public school program, the Patriots were just trying to show what theyre capable of at full strength. Did they ever.

A win like this boosts your confidence, said Verna, who watched Greg Merrill net the game-tying goal with four seconds left in regulation. For a while there we were scuffling. I dont want to use the fact that we were down two starters as an excuse, but now that we have the whole team together, this is what our team is supposed to look like.

Forget about Great Valleys brief slide; now that Hayes, headed for Mount St. Marys in the fall, and the Denver-bound Ward are back from suspension, the Patriots (2-2 Ches-Mont, 6-3 overall) are as good as anyone in the crowded Ches-Mont.

I wouldnt worry too much about Avon Grove. Four seconds separate the Red Devils from perfection, and they already have victories over three of the districts best teams in Upper Dublin, Ridley, and Central Bucks East to their credit. Avon Grove is still very much a player in the race for league and postseason hardware.

Malvern Prep is no longer undefeated after an overtime loss at the hands of Episcopal Academy on Tuesday. Despite looking up at the Churchmen in the Inter-Ac standings, the Friars can play with anyone. Episcopal is one of the best teams in the state, and Malvern is right there with it. The Friars are ranked 12th in the North American poll.

Conestoga suffered its first Central League loss since 2010 on Tuesday, falling 10-3 at Radnor. At 4-5, the Pioneers have already lost more games this year than in the last two combined. I still expect Conestoga to be a tough out come playoff time, but its clear this isnt the team that has won three consecutive PIAA championships. Who can blame them? The 2012 class was the best in the history of the state. Despite a lack of experience, I still expect coach Brian Samson to get the most out of this team by seasons end.

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Boys Lacrosse Top 10

1. Malvern Prep (7-1): Friars drop heart-breaker to Episcopal, but still look like areas best.

2. Avon Grove (8-1): Red Devils come oh-so-close at Great Valley.

3. Kennett (8-1): Blue Demons prove theyre for real with win at Downingtown West.

4. Great Valley (6-3): Patriots are at full strength and playing like it.

5. Downingtown West (5-3): Whippets lose tight battle with Kennett.

6. Conestoga (4-5): Pioneers see Central League win streak end at Radnor.

7. Bishop Shanahan (6-2): Eagles pick up big win at Henderson.

8. W.C. Henderson (7-2): Warriors drop from ranks of league unbeatens.

9. Downingtown East (4-5): Cougars get back on track with second straight win.

10. Unionville (5-4): Indians even league record against W.C. East.