LOWER PAXTON TWP. — The Cumberland Valley Eagles just wanted to play Cumberland Valley boys lacrosse. That was the plan heading into the Mid-Penn Championship Thursday night against Palmyra at George Ebersole Stadium.
Palmyra was a powerhouse during the regular season, besting opponents in the Keystone Division and elsewhere en route to an undefeated regular season. The Eagles knew that they had their work cut out for them coming into the game, but head coach Matt Healey just told them to stick to what they knew.
“I just told them to stay confident,” Healey said. “I know they can play and Palmyra’s a very good team, my team’s a very good team. We just need to play CV lacrosse, that’s all it was all week. Stay confident, play as a team, draw and dump and be patient on offense and I knew we could capitalize.”
CV kept up the confidence — and surviving a late Palmyra push — on its way to an 11-8 win and a Mid-Penn Conference Championship.
Devon Heckman got the scoring started for CV (16-3, 6-0 Commonwealth) before Palmyra’s Grant Haus tied it up early in the first quarter. Two more from Heckman got the hat trick and one more from Nick Sather put the Eagles in a comfortable 5-1 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter quieted down significantly with both sides only scoring one goal a piece.
The second half seemed to give the Eagles the most trouble.
Palmyra (18-1, 5-0 Keystone) came out soaring, determined to get back in on the action. Haus and Kyle Nolen got the Cougars within three of the Eagles at the end of the third quarter, 8-5.
“In the first game (against Palmyra, an 8-7 loss in April) we didn’t prepare as much — we underestimated them a lot,” said Stevie Peters, who notched a total of four goals in the win. “Our coach tells us every quarter that the start of the quarter is 0-0, so we were in a 2-1 game after the second quarter and we really had to buckle down in that second half. They were starting to get some momentum.”
And the Cougars kept on the attack in the fourth quarter. CV Turnovers and some sloppy plays led to another Palmyra run, making it 11-8 near the end of the game.
Enter Alex Dudziak. The goaltender stepped up in the closing minutes and held down the fort for the Eagles, knocking aside ball after ball.
Moving into the District 3 Class 3A playoffs, the No. 4 Eagles will have a bye Tuesday. They’ll face either No. 5 Governor Mifflin or No. 12 Elizabethtown in the quarterfinal May 18.
“It’s good, but honestly the season starts now,” Peters said of the win. “We need to start working hard now and not forget this win, but get over it and look toward districts.”
“It’s huge, we set the tone,” Healey said. “We want to peak and we’re peaking at the right moment. It’s definitely setting the tone beating an undefeated team and it just builds that confidence moving forward through districts.
“Not only can we play with the best teams in the district, but we can finish games on top when the momentum gets swinging.”