Just after his Mt. Lebanon boys lacrosse team fell to traditional rival Peters Township in the WPIAL 3A championship game at Robert Morris University's Joe Walton Stadium, coach Mike Ermer allowed that the season had plenty of mixed results.
While the 12-11 double-overtime loss to Peters Township did sting, it marked the start of another journey that would take the Blue Devils -- the No. 8 seed in the WPIAL tournament -- to the Final Four of the sport's 3A grouping in the PIAA tournament.
That first step would entail a trip to Harrisburg where the Blue Devils would meet District 3 champion West Lawn Wilson in a first-round game at Central Dauphin High School, which is less than an hour from Wilson's campus.
If the Blue Devils were fatigued from their trip from the South Hills, they certainly hid it well as they handed the Bulldogs their second loss of the season and snapped a 19-game winning streak with an 8-7 victory. The 22-2 Bulldogs prior setback came on April 1 when they lost to Parkland, 7-2.
The victory put Mt. Lebanon into the quarterfinals against District 6 champion State College. The Little Lions knocked off Shady Side Academy, the No. 3 team from the WPIAL, by a 7-6 margin. State College's good fortune, however, would run out as the Blue Devils eased to a comfortable 11-4 victory.
Mt. Lebanon then matched up with Conestoga, a team quite familiar with the higher levels of the sport. The Pioneers are this season's overall No. 2 seed, and they have won three PIAA championships and finished second twice since the PIAA sanctioned the sport in 2009.
Conestoga defeated Mt. Lebanon, 13-3. But the Blue Devils' appearance in the PIAA semifinals likely will create even more interest in the sport.
Ermer always has mentioned that each season is a unique experience as players graduate and new ones replace them. But it helps to have some experience returning, and that is evident as junior midfielder Sam Rothschild, junior defender Mark Pesecreta, junior attack Tim McMullen, freshman goalie Tucker Welch and freshman attack John Sramac all return.
Sramac and McMullen were potent forces in the Blue Devils' one-goal loss to Peters Township. Sramac led Mt. Lebanon with four goals and two assists. McMullen added three goals. And Welch had eight saves, many of them from close range.
So, the prospects are bright for the PIAA 3A semifinalists, who finished the year at 13-10. Don't be surprised if the postseason venture a year from now resembles the one just completed.