Defending champ University to play for boys’ lacrosse title 172

MORGANTOWN — It’s tough to tell whether the University High boys’ lacrosse team had its previous meeting with Berkeley County fresh in its mind.

On April 27, in Martinsburg, the Hawks were throttled by the Pride, 12-6. There was little to no offense and nothing seemed to go right.

On  May 17, during the West Virginia Scholastic Lacrosse Association (WVSLA) semifinal at Morgantown High, UHS scored more in the first quarter than it did the entire game the first time around. It was an offensive explosion with a final of 21-11 that left head coach Brian Houk smiling from ear to ear.

“This team really kicked our butts in the regular season,” he said. “Great teams don’t lose, we learn. We scouted them hard and we knew exactly what they were going to come out with. We came out on fire, and the seniors made sure this wasn’t the last game. This is by far the best our offense has played all year.”

The Hawks (13-3), the defending state champions, will try to continue the onslaught Saturday, taking on either Morgantown or George Washington for the WVSLA championship, at MHS. The Mohigans and Patriots will play at 6 p.m. today, at MHS, in their semifinal match-up.

It was a balanced scoring effort, as well. A lot of players decided to get in on the scoring pie. Gavin Yondura led the team with five goals, followed by Nate Gibson and Mathias Turner, each with four. Brayden Wilson had three goals, Antonio Mascaro had two, and Quinn Napolillo, Sam Snider and Nick Kirchoff each had one.

Gibson (4), Napolillo (2), Alec Hanshew (2), Yondura and Mascaro tallied assists.

An issue the first time against Berkeley County (11-4) was not finishing in transition and in man-up situations. Out of eight man-up situations, UHS scored only one goal.

“We didn’t do transition so well against them last time — we were just kind of slow,” Houk said. “But tonight, we have the energy, we had the fire and we had the sauce. We just came out hot.”

Berkeley County’s offense has been its strength all season, led by senior Nate Carter, committed to play at Limestone College (S.C) next year. He scored six goals in the first meeting and five Thursday. The difference for the Hawks was answering on the other end when they needed to.

Goalie A.J. Adams finished with 16 saves.

UHS did not face George Washington (9-3) during the regular season, but it did Morgantown (12-4) — a 15-7 win, on May 5.

For Houk, it doesn’t matter who his team faces, it’ll need to be ready, and he hopes the momentum carries over. There’s obviously a little history with MHS, so a rematch for it all would be fitting.

“Morgantown and University were the first two teams in the WVSLA, so I think that would be really special if on the 20th anniversary of lacrosse in West Virginia, we played for the title,” Houk said. “But George Washington is a really good team, too. They’re going to be hungry, but no matter who we play, we’re going to be prepared and excited. “If we execute our stuff, I’m confident in whoever we play.”

Game time for Saturday’s boys’ state championship game is set for 7 p.m. The UHS girls’ team will play George Washington for the state title at 2 p.m.

Berkeley County’s Jacob Thrasher can only watch as University players celebrate a goal in the second quarter.
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