NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ- The Pioneers defeated Delaware Valley 14-6 on Saturday to advance to the South Group 1 semifinals of the NJSIAA State Tournament.
"We knew how tough Del Val was coming into this game," said Pioneer head coach Russ Anderson, "I thought that what you saw today was because of the preparation over the past two days. Offensively, we clicked. I thought we were spreading the ball around really well. Defensively, we took care of our matchups, and we played tough gritty defense."
It was a cold and rainy game, but the Pioneers started on fire. Thomas McGrath and Sean Sweeney connected for three goals in the first quarter to start New Providence with a 3-0 lead. McGrath sent a pass to Sweeney in the goalmouth for the opening score, and Sweeney returned the favor less than a minute later. He delivered a pass from behind the net to set McGrath up for his first goal of the game. The two attackers combined for their third goal with Sweeney hitting McGrath in close for a top shelf laser.
Only twenty seconds into the second quarter, defenseman Jack Gertie extended the New Providence lead. McGrath continued his scoring tear soon after that, this time off an assist from Matt Burke. Joe D'Anna was next on the board for the Pioneers. D'Anna got a second chance after his first shot was stopped; he scooped the ground ball and didn't miss twice.
With the score 6-0 for the Pioneers, Del Val began to bite back. They scored twice before the end of the half cutting the lead to 6-2.
The Pioneers exploded on to the scoreboard in the third. McGrath buried his fourth goal a minute into the quarter, but Del Val struck back less than a minute after. It was all Pioneers for the rest of the third. D'Anna scored his second of the game assisted by McGrath to reinstate the five goal lead. Tyler Lawton took control for the Pioneers to finish the third quarter.
With the rain beating down on the turf, Lawton unleashed a torrent of goals for the Pioneers. He scored four times in a little over six minutes to give the Pioneers a 12-3 lead entering the final quarter of the game. The desperate Del Val squad fought back in the fourth quarter. They scored twice in the first four minutes, but Michael Garrity responded with another Pioneer goal. Garrity circled the net and ripped a shot past the goalie. Del Val would score once more before McGrath iced the game with his fifth goal for a final score of 14-6.
The Pioneers are on the road when they face Madison in the semifinals on Wednesday, May 23rd.
"Over the past few years, they've been an absolute powerhouse, and we're just going to prepare the best way we know how. We're going to put out best game out on the field and play Pioneer lacrosse," said Anderson on the matchup,