By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Maybe the myth of homefield advantage is true. You know, one team plays in front of its home fans and seems to raise its level of play.
Regardless, Selinsgrove felt all of the comforts of home playing a few blocks away at Susquehanna, on the same field that the Crusaders found new levels of success. The Seals grabbed a 17-4 victory over Danville on Tuesday behind solid play in all facets of the game.
Selinsgrove coach Tom Garlock was quick to credit the hustle that the Ironmen showed.
"Danville played well, a hard game," Garlock said. "Good to end the season with a win of course, but we have a long way to go. The season's not over yet."
Despite falling behind early to the Seals (14-0), the Ironmen (8-7) continued to fight until the final whistle, which pleased Ironmen coach Matt Gerdy.
"We hung in there," Gerdy said. "We didn't tuck our tails between our legs and put our heads down and take a beating. We actually played some of our best lacrosse in the fourth quarter. I had a lot of respect for the guys that played for me."
The Ironmen improved over the final three quarters of play after allowing the Seals to take control of the game early.
Unfortunately for the Ironmen, a scoreboard delay before the game started only stunted the scoring for the Seals momentarily and did little to cool the Seals play at the start. The Seals controlled the opening face-off and raced down the turf, with Ben Youngman firing a shot on goal that was turned aside. Zach Adams quickly got the ball on his stick for the Seals and found the back of the net to take an early 1-0 lead.
Well, if one is good, two is better. Off of a pass from Austin Stroup, Adams scored his second goal in roughly a minute, blasting a shot past Evan Tanner.
Taking advantage of loose balls and showing added physicality to muscle through defensive traps, as the Seals jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
Stroup got into the action a few minutes after the Seals won the race for a loose ball behind the Danville cage to increase the lead to five. After his second goal and a tally from Ben Youngman, Stroup found the ball in his net with time winding down on the first quarter.
Stroup spun in the middle of two defenders to gain a shooting lane and let go of a shot that found the back of the cage with three seconds remaining for an 8-0 lead after one quarter.
Stroup, Adams and Andrew Sickle controlled the tempo offensively for the Seals which Garlock was quick to notice, "Our midfield did very well," Garlock said. "They were able to take an early lead and were able to steady the offense as the game progressed into the third and fourth (quarters)."
The tide began to turn slightly in the second quarter as the Seals managed one goal on a pass that was placed well in front of the cage, leaving a tough play for Tanner in goal. The Ironmen made Seals goalie Reid Betzker work to preserve a halftime shutout, forcing the sophomore to make difficult saves for a 9-0 halftime lead.
Heading into the second half, Danville was looking to break into the scoring column and did so off a blistering shot from Nick Treon. Treon received a pass from Gage Reber and wasted little time getting the ball past Betzker. Tyler Blue beat Betzker from the right side to cut the lead to 10-2. However, an eight-goal deficit was the closest the Ironmen would come to tying the game.
The Seals rattled off three straight goals to end the third quarter and started the fourth with another tally for a 14-2 advantage.
Treon answered back for the Ironmen with a goal into the top-right corner of the cage. The Seals netted three straight before Treon completed his bid for a hat trick with a highlight-reel tally.
With less than two minutes remaining, Treon handled the ball behind the cage, raced around the side of the cage, jumped in the air and fired a shot into the top of the net.
With Betzker in net, the Seals were able to push the ball upfield without having to worry about a lapse on defense.
"I want to thank my defense," Betzker said. "They kept the ball out and only gave up outside shots."
The win for the Seals came on Senior Night as Marcus Winn, Luke Calderon, Steve Leonard and Josh Peffer were honored at halftime.
"I'm glad that we were able to give the seniors a win to end the season," Garlock said.