A cut above: Penncrest wins states

Penncrest celebrates with the trophy after its win. (Ed Hille/Staff Photographer)

HERSHEY, Pa. - Wayne Matsinger ran his hands through his hair as he walked toward the impromptu barber chair behind Penncrest's bench.

Ten minutes earlier, the lacrosse lifer had stood at midfield of Hersheypark Stadium and kissed the side of the wood PIAA boys' lacrosse trophy. After 26 years at Penncrest, Matsinger had his title. The 12-7 win Saturday over Avon Grove gave the school its first PIAA championship in any sport.

But now it was time to say goodbye to his brown locks. Most of Penncrest's players shaved Mohawks into their heads before the playoffs. It is the program's tradition, junior Ethan Trusty said.

And the Lions struck a deal with their coaches: If they win the state title, the coaches get matching cuts.

Trusty shaved the side of his coach's head, carefully minding the corners for an even cut. The electric clippers belonged to teammate Will Manganiello. But the barbershop was all Trusty.

"I was just trying to make him look good," he said.

Trusty scored midway through the fourth quarter to stymie an Avon Grove rally. The Red Devils had scored three straight goals to cut Penncrest's lead to three. Trusty found a hole through the middle and ran almost untouched en route to firing it past the goalie. He then dashed behind the net and leaped into the chest of Drew Hanna.

"That was really big," Trusty said. "I just ran as fast as I could through that lane and stuck it in."

Manganiello led the Lions with five goals. He tied the game in the second quarter on a behind-the-back score. He then scored from the left side from 10 yards to provide a one-goal lead.

Penncrest scored eight straight times and did not relinquish that lead. Dylan Protesto won 17 of his 22 faceoffs, allowing Penncrest to dominate possession.

"When we click, we really do click," Manganiello said. "We just kept firing. We knew we had to beat them by a lot. It couldn't be a close game, so we just kept going on it."

The Lions won their first 19 games this season before losing to Springfield (Delco) in the quarterfinals of the District 1 playoffs. Matsinger said he told his players to refocus. Their preseason goals were to complete an undefeated Central League and undefeated regular season and win the state title. Winning the district crown was not one of the goals.

They rallied to earn the district's fifth seed in the PIAA playoffs. To capture the state title, Penncrest had to advance past the Ches-Mont, Catholic League, and District 1 champions.

Matsinger said his players have "hearts of lions." And together, they have haircuts of champions.

Penncrest 2 3 4 3 – 12

Avon Grove 3 0 0 4 – 7

Goals: P-Will Manganiello 5, Drew Hanna, Billy Kinnard, Ethan Trusty 2, Robert Logan, Alex Bonnett 2; AG -Tanner Peck 2, Beau Kush 2, Eric Russo 3.

Saves: P-Dylan McCleaft 14; AG-Will Schreiner 9.