Up to the Challenge

Article excerpt

After opening the season with 12 consecutive victories, Sewickley Academy was on the verge of clinching a spot in the "A" bracket in this week's Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament.

That was before a 14-4 loss to Worthington Kilbourne (Ohio) on Sunday at Joe Walton Stadium put the Panthers' status in limbo. At worst, they will be in the lower bracket or in a relatively meaningless unseeded game, but they need a win over Mt. Lebanon on Wednesday and quite a bit of help to play against the elite teams in the region Friday and Saturday at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio.

"The Midwest is just so strong this year that both the 'A' and 'B' brackets are just going to be absolutely phenomenal," Sewickley Academy coach Tim Hastings said. "There's going to be so many good teams that it will be interesting to see how the voting (for positions) goes."

Sewickley Academy is no slouch. After yesterday's loss, the Panthers are the third-ranked team in WPIAL Division I, 21st in the state and No. 167 in the country, all according to laxpower.com.

Last season, Sewickley Academy won the WPIAL Division I championship but could not avenge its only regular-season loss; Seneca Valley ousted the Panthers, 12-7, in the PIAA quarterfinals. No WPIAL team has played in the state championship game since the sport was recognized by the PIAA in 2009.

As Sewickley Academy readies itself for another WPIAL title run, playing against teams from the Midwest -- a necessity when the school joined in 1974 because of the region's lack of lacrosse teams -- can only help.

"The need to play in the Midwest is not as great as it used to be, but we do have the long history with it, and the games are a blast," Hastings said. …