Although it’s still early in the year, the Indiana High School Lacrosse team stayed cognizant of what Friday night’s showdown with Norwin meant in terms of direction.
Not only were the Indians just one day removed from their first loss of the year, a disappointing 13-4 setback to Kiski School, they were also playing in the first of three straight WPIAL Division 2 Section 1 games.
In an physical battle, the Indians got the best of the Knights from the get-go, racing to a 4-0 lead just six minutes in and easing their way to a 14-5 win in their section opener at Andy Kuzneski Field.
“This was big because you never know how the guys are going to react,” Indiana coach Eric Wetzel said of the Indians’ loss to Kiski School. “Not only did we get beat, we got beat pretty bad, in just about all facets. We just hoped we were going to bounce back because the reality was those first five games really don’t mean all that much. We’ve got five section games coming up that our seeding in the WPIAL playoffs are all tied to, so yeah, we were very pleased with how they reacted.”
Ryan Watters put Indiana (5-1) on the board first when snapped a shot past Norwin goalie Will Gooch just 1:48 into the game. Just 48 seconds later, Ted Avolio beat Gooch off a nifty feed from Keldon Spicher to put Indiana ahead 2-0.
David Zimmerman scored the first of his four goals less than three minutes later to stretch Indiana’s lead to 3-0. Andrew Wetzel then netted a goal with 6:00 left in the first quarter to cap the four-goal burst.
“That’s our theory every game. We want to start quick and end quick,” Wetzel, who scored a game-high five goals and added two assists, said.
Norwin’s Josh Ellwood scored back-to-back goals to trim Indiana’s lead to 4-2 with 11:25 left in the second quarter. But the Indians responded and regained their footing, netting six goals in the ensuing 6:30 to take a 10-3 lead. Wetzel fueled the rally and scored four goals, two of which came off feeds from Spicher.
“It’s just all about the chemistry with us,” Wetzel said. “We’ve all been together since day one, since it started back in seventh grade. We’re all just on the same page.”
“We’ve been playing together for a while so we really have that chemistry. We’re just always aware of one another,” Spicher added.
Spicher, Zimmerman and Pat Snyder each scored a goal in the third quarter to increase Indiana’s lead to 13-3 heading into the fourth.
Indiana goalie Sean Rhodes, who made 13 saves, sounded off on the importance of the win by saying: “That was super important for us. We’re looking to win WPIAL this year and we’ve got a big game coming up against Greensburg Central Catholic, so this was huge. We’re really looking forward to next week.”
Spicher racked up six assists and six ground balls, and Watters and Tyler Milsop tacked on six ground balls apiece.