La Salle crushes Bethel Park for title

CORAOPOLIS, Pa. - For a full 365 days, La Salle's players refused to forget the feeling. The Explorers were driven by not wanting to experience it again.

Andrew Grajewski scored twice Sunday night to lead La Salle to its fourth Pennsylvania Cup Class AAA state championship, 6-2, over Bethel Park at the Robert Morris University Island Sports Center.

Andrew Romano, Nick Master, Matt Williams, and Brett Supinski also had goals for the Explorers, who lost in overtime of last season's title game to Upper St. Clair.

"We talked about it before the game: 'Remember what the feeling was like last year when we lost?' " La Salle coach Wally Muehlbronner said. "We know what it's like to come out on the short end of the stick when you give a solid effort, like Bethel Park did this year. We were lucky enough to come out on top."

The Flyers Cup champion Explorers jumped on a Bethel Park team that had won the Penguins Cup the night before, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Grajewski and Romano during the game's first 12 minutes.

La Salle increased that lead to 3-0 before the Black Hawks' Brody Taylor scored 6 minutes, 52 seconds into the second. That ignited a furious Bethel Park flurry of pressure and controlling of play. But Explorers goalie Andrew King stood tall, making some of the better of his 25 saves during that stretch.

"I think they just came out harder than us in the second period; we weren't really expecting that," King said. "Just to be able to withstand it and fight through it and keep going. . . . We still came out of that period with a three-goal lead, and I think that was huge."

Master's shorthanded goal with 3:12 left in the second grabbed the momentum back for La Salle, part of a spectacular Explorers special-teams effort that included going 3 for 3 on the power play.

The state title is the third in the last five years for La Salle, which won consecutive championships in 2008-09 and also won in 1998. The Explorers are undefeated this season against Pennsylvania high school teams.

"It's hard to describe the feeling," Grajewski said. "Last year, we fell short, and it was heartbreaking. But this whole year has been great - we've worked as a team and had some great coaching and did really well. It's amazing."

La Salle   2 2 2 - 6

Bethel Park   0 1 1 - 2

Goals: LS–Andrew Grajewski 2, Andrew Romano, Nick Master, Matthew Williams, Brett Supinski; BP–Brody Taylor, Jacob Worcester.

Saves: LS–Andrew King 25; BP–Alex Blum 22.