Indians tune up for lacrosse playoffs
Since the program’s inception in 2009, Indiana lacrosse coach Eric Wetzel has waited to get his team in striking distance to earn its first WPIAL playoff win.
With its second straight playoff berth already sewed up, Indiana nabbed a lead just six seconds into the game and then thumped Aquinas Academy, 14-2, in a non-conference game at Andy Kuzneski Field on Friday night.
The game, which was Indiana’s Senior Salute Night, was delayed for nearly an hour due to lightning.
The sixth-seeded Indians reached the 10-win plateau for the first time in school history and concluded their regular season with a 10-3 record.
Indiana will lock horns at third-seeded Quaker Valley in the first round of the WPIAL Division 2 playoffs Thursday.
“We started out fast and executed pretty well in the first quarter,” Wetzel said. “It was a big thing for us to win 10 games, and it was a big thing for us to win on Senior Salute Night. But it was also nice that we got a chance to see some of the younger guys go out and shine. We really think kids like Dylan Stapleton, Michael Supinka and Connor Tshudy are going to be nice players, and we saw a little bit of that tonight.”
Andrew Wetzel broke Indiana’s record for fastest goal in game when he broke free on a play called a flat break and scored just six seconds into the game.
Keldon Spicher corralled a feed off the opening faceoff and fired a pass to Wetzel, who was standing alone on the left wing in front of Aquinas Academy goalie Jonathan Lynch. A sprinting Wetzel put on the brakes, turned, and fired a shot over the right shoulder of an unsuspecting Lynch.
“We practice those flat breaks a lot. Sometimes they come off without a hitch, and it’s impressive when it happens,” Eric Wetzel said.
“Everyone was really excited and ready to get out there,” Andrew Wetzel added. “That’s definitely the fastest we’ve ever scored a goal. We’ll just continue to improve and keep trying to beat that time.”
A pair of goals from Wetzel, along with a goal from Supinka, put Indiana ahead 4-0 heading into the second quarter.
Michael Tappe beat Indiana goalie Sean Rhodes with 9:24 left in the first half to cut Indiana’s lead to 4-1.
But just seven seconds later, Keldon Spicher sprinted down the right wing and rifled a shot past Lynch from 10 yards to stretch Indiana’s lead to 5-1.
“This was definitely a key game and we really wanted to get out to a fast start,” Spicher said. “Every win helps us pick up our game. We want to play better and improve every time we’re out there.”
Rhodes made a diving save with 7:06 to play in the third quarter to spark an Indiana rally.
Less than 30 seconds later, David Zimmerman scored from four yards to stretch Indiana’s lead to 8-1.
The Indians then netted the game’s next six goals, four of which came from Stapleton, to extend their lead to 14-1.
“It’s amazing winning 10 games, especially since Indiana’s never done that before,” Stapleton said. “I’m just happy to be on the team and to be contributing. I’ve learned a lot from the older guys. These guys (Spicher and Wetzel) have definitely taught me a thing or two.”
Andrew Wetzel and Spicher each sounded off on garnering the No. 6 seed and how the Indians perceived the seeding as an insult.
Indiana handily defeated fourth-seeded Mars, 13-8, on May 2.
“That’s almost disrespectful,” Wetzel said. “We did really well (and) we probably had a better season than them (Mars), and somehow they get a higher seed. That definitely gives us something to prove.”
“I think it’s going to light a little fire,” Spicher added. “They probably had more wins than us because they played more games, but none of that really means anything. The only thing that matters is who wins it all.”