ADAMS TWP — The postseason is currently of no concern to the Mars boys lacrosse team.
The Planets certainly want to win a third straight WPIAL championship and make another run in the Class AA state playoffs after reaching the semifinals last year, but to accomplish those things, Bob Marcoux’s squad must not rest on past feats.
One factor that keeps the Planets (5-1, 1-0) focused on the here and now takes place between games.
“It can be tough for 16 and 17-year old kids to not look too far ahead,” Marcoux said, “but we try to keep them looking at things one day at a time. We create a lot of competition in practice and that helps.”
“Our class was the first one to go through the youth program,” said senior midfielder Andrew Moyer. “We’ve always had very competitive practices. That’s the way we were brought up. Whether it’s team-oriented, small groups or even 1-on-1, competition has always been part of it.”
Mars was tasked with replacing four starters from last year, including goalie Jack Austin, defender Joe Crognale and midfielders Ben Lewis and Joe Horvat.
Between the two of them, Lewis and Horvat scored 79 goals and added 60 assists in 2017. They left big shoes to fill, but those returning have kept the Planets’ attack operating at a high level. Through six games, Mars is averaging 15.6 goals per game.
The Planets found the net 12 times in a 12-11 win over defending WPIAL Class AAA champ Peters Township on Thursday.
Anthony Grieco, a senior attackman, leads the team in both goals (21) and assists (9). Michael Doyle and Moyer both have 14 goals, followed by Cade Hetzler and Nicholas Dinderman, who have found the net 12 and 10 times, respectively.
“The offense is even more potent than last year,” said Marcoux. “This is our third year in (offensive coordinator) Tom Kozlowski’s system. We don’t have big guys, but Tom draws things up to take advantage of our quickness. We play some teams that have just one or two players we really need to worry about. Teams can’t do that with us. We have many players capable of scoring.”
“We have plays that we run,” said Hetzler, a senior attackman, “but we are very athletic and that allows us to freelance a lot of the time. A lot of our offense comes from that.”
It has been said that possession is nine-tenths of the law. In lacrosse, it’s everything and the Planets have two players who have a knack for winning faceoffs in Moyer and junior Garrett Reinke. The latter is earning possession for the Planets more than 90 percent of the time.
Defensively, the Planets lost a major contributor in Crognale. Leaders on that end of the field this season include seniors Owen Corsi, Kyle Anderson, Kam Angeletti and junior Nate Smith. They are holding their own under the guidance of defensive coordinator Josh Lambert.
“The defense still has some catching up to do, but a few kids have stepped up,” said Marcoux. “Our play on defense will determine how much progress we make as a team.”
“There’s always room for improvement,” said senior midfielder Dan O’Connell, “but I think our man-down defense has played very well. I think it’s ahead of what we had in years past.”