If there is one prevailing emotion to take away from the just-completed season for the Mars boys lacrosse team, it's this: the Planets have a team that will compete with just about any high school team in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
In its first season of Class 2A competition, Mars put together two nine-game winning streaks en route to a 21-3 season, a WPIAL 2A championship and an appearance in the PIAA 2A semifinals, where it fell to West Chester Henderson, 20-9. Not bad for a program that just concluded its sixth season. For its part, West Chester Henderson plays in the strongest district in the state -- District 1 -- for boys lacrosse. Henderson, the No. 2 team in the district, meets a familiar rival, District 1 champion Springfield -- the overall top seed -- in the 2 p.m. championship game today at West Chester High School.
So, where does this leave Mars? As it turns out, the Planets are in a pretty good place. Of the 10 players listed on the Planets' roster for its PIAA first-round game with Erie Cathedral Prep, just two of them were seniors. Still, goalie Jack Austin and defender Joey Croganale were two of the most important players on the team.
Austin recorded six solid saves in the 18-8 victory over Cathedral Prep, and Croganale was mentioned often by players and coach Bob Marcoux as the glue to a defense that yielded 10 or more goals on just six occasions, the most being the 20 goals yielded in the loss to West Chester Henderson.
Everyone else, however, is back. Juniors Anthony Grieco and Hayden Vasbinder and sophomore Mike Doyle combined to score 10 goals in the victory over Cathedral Prep's Ramblers, and Grieco led the way with four tallies. Vasbinder and Doyle each recorded hat tricks, with Doyle coming off the bench to record his feat.
Also back is face-off specialist Andrew Moyer. Called by one coach "a beast," Moyer is a junior.
So, prospects are bright for the Planets. Advancing to the sport's final four is a major accomplishment. But this team -- which was 6-2 against Class 3A competition in 2017 -- won't be satisfied unless it can advance to -- and win -- a PIAA 2A championship.
That won't be easy. But this Mars team is one that has plenty of motivation among its players and coaches. They will tell you what happened this past season was just the foundation on what the players and coaches is a long run of success.