May lacrosse matters most.
Shady Side vs. Bethel Park
North #1 seed vs. South #4 seed
Regular season meeting: did not play
Shady Side has crawled into the playoffs with a 1-4 record over the last five games including a 5-4 win over Seneca Valley. They are however getting healthier with Peyton Lane, Chris Woodings, and Mac Ference returning for recent games. Lane, in an addition to being a top one on one cover guy, is a critical component to the SSA clearing game.
Bethel returns to the post season despite an overall 7-10 record thanks to a decisive 13-10 win over Sewickley. They nearly missed out on the third seed but dropped the previous game to USC in overtime. The offense is led by junior middie Noah Brussard and sophomore attackmen Zak Ferris and Evan Bradley.
Shady Side’s offense has only scored more than 10 goals twice this season. Their defense has been the story and should carry them into the semi finals.
Peters Township vs. North Allegheny
South #2 seed vs. North #3 seed
Regular season meeting: NA 10-7
North Allegheny and Peters met last Thursday for Peters’ senior night in perhaps the strangest regular season game of the year. The playoff match up had already been determined prior to the game. Peters opted to play the seniors the vast majority of the game. Had it not been for senior night, the game may have been cancelled. Will be interesting to see what mental edge NA takes into the first round game following the 10-7 victory just a week prior.
North Allegheny’s offense has struggled to replicate last year’s punch, but their athleticism in the middle third of the field has kept them in games.
Peters got a big boost to their defense with the recent return of 2018 LSM Nicki Phelps.
Keep your fingers crossed we get 2016 Logan Maloni (Peters/Seton Hill) vs. 2017 Jack Kairys (North Allegheny) match up. Kairys could also draw the Max Buzzelli assignment.
Mt. Lebanon vs. Fox Chapel
South #1 seed vs. North #4 seed
Regular season meeting: did not play
Fox Chapel and Mt. Lebanon meet for the third time in the quarterfinals in the McCrady Ward era. Lebo has cruised in both games 18-6 (2015) and 15-5 (2014). Fox Chapel is fresh off of a 13-7 win over Shady Side, a team that beat Mt. Lebanon in three overtimes almost a month ago.
A low possession game favors Fox Chapel for a variety of reasons. Mt. Lebanon face off man Jesse Dodd will be less likely to make a significant impact on the game. The more touches Brian Ward, Dan Lee, Connor Brumfield receive the more likely they are to score. And, a slower game means a closer game giving Fox Chapel a chance to get into their zone defense. Most defensive coordinators would rather Brian Ward shoot hands free from 15 yards out than inside of 9 yards on the move.
Mt. Lebanon’s defense has allowed 55 goals over the last five games. They’ll be charged with slowing down Brown commit Levi McCrady who floats between attack and midfield.
The revelation for Fox Chapel’s offense this spring has been Tucker Root. The Foxes will need Root to continue his ethereal performance over the last three games to stay close with Mt. Lebanon’s offense.
Oh. In case you forgot…this happened in last year’s quarterfinal game.
Pine Richland vs. Upper St. Clair
North #2 seed vs. South #3 seed
Regular season meeting: Pine 12 USC 11
The only true rematch of the 2016 playoffs.
If you’re USC, how many adjustments would you be willing to make after losing by one goal?
If you’re Pine, how comfortable do you feel staying the course after winning by one goal?
Senior Adam Reimer (Seton Hill) got loose against North Allegheny. Will USC cover him with Haris Rahman or does Rahman get the Thomas Hanulak match up? Rahman typically finds himself on the opposition’s best player similar to the way NA uses Kairys.
The challenge with Pine Richland is of course Jake Freedlander at the face off X. The big sophomore provides so many extra possessions for Pine and makes it almost impossible to sustain offensive runs.
USC sophomore attackman Tommy Boyd is on the verge of being a break out star.
Considering the regular season score, this one will likely be the tightest of the quarter final games. Too bad this game isn’t at USC so we could be treated to the Panther’s play by play guy for one more match.
Safe money on Shady Side, North Allegheny, Mt. Lebanon, and Pine to advance.
Notes from LaxPower’s very own maineroad:
D1 is really wide-open, and any of six teams winning is not out of the question. In the end, though, I’ll take the winner of Lebo/FC over SSA in the final. I suppose this sort of goes without saying, but Lebo is not a great match-up for the Foxes, and it’s a terrible emotional spot for them anyway – coming off Super Bowl win over neighbors. I suspect in the end Lebo’s offense against thin Fox poles should be the difference. I like SSA because they really get the only seemingly “easy” game in the whole bracket. I also like them – but just a little – against whoever it is that emerges from the NA/PT coin-flip. NA has great poles, but is young and offensively challenged. Peters is kind of a one-man show up front, but it’s a good show and they might be a little more complete a team. Pine has the other first-round game that looks kind of “easy,” but they play close to pretty much everybody. I haven’t seen USC play in years. Whoever it is who survives that, I’d take Lebo or FC over in the semis anyway. Should be fun.