CLARKS SUMMIT — Despite his team’s 9-2 loss to Scranton Prep in a varsity boys lacrosse exhibition game April 29 at Comets Stadium, Abington Heights head coach Bill Riiff was pleased with the effort of his players and the direction of the program.
Abington Heights is competing at the varsity level for the first time this season and currently has a 1-5 record. The Comets defeated Lakeland, 15-9, April 14.
“It’s great to watch what we’re doing,” Riiff said. “A lot of the guys don’t even know how to play lacrosse, at this moment, and we’ve really gelled well at the back end of the season. We played zone defense against (Prep). I think it helped us keep their shots on the outside and our goalie (Eric Jacoby) played amazing.”
Prep junior Dan Hinton opened the scoring on Saturday with a goal off an assist from sophomore Greg Fisher with 9:15 left in the first quarter.
Senior Anthony Osticco found the back of the net off a pass from Fisher to give the Cavaliers a 2-0 lead with 6:15 remaining in the first.
Prep held a 3-0 advantage with 7:19 remaining in the second quarter after junior Luke Johnson scored off an assist from Hinton.
Despite some struggles throughout the first six games, Riiff believes the team is establishing a strong bond.
“We continue to talk about building a family,” he said. “They don’t get down on themselves when we’re losing a game. It’s really more about getting better. There’s a no quit mentality on our team and we’re using more bench players now than we did in the beginning of the season.”
Abington Heights junior Eric Middleton scored off a pass from freshman Dante DeRiggi to pull the Comets within two with 6:18 left to play in the first half.
“I think our guys were a little surprised at just how talented (Abington Heights) is,” Scranton Prep head coach Jon Knowles said. “They have a couple really good players and they kept it tight.”
Prep struck for three goals, in a span of just over two minutes, late in the second quarter to build a comfortable lead and Hinton factored into each one.
First, he assisted on Osticco’s second tally before scoring off a pass from Osticco and assisting on Johnson’s second goal.
“I thought we did a better job controlling the ball in the first quarter, but we had too many turnovers (27 in the game),” Riiff said. “We let them shoot 36 times and they were on offense for three quarters of the game. We have to be able to pass and throw the ball better.”
Junior Joe Pettinato scored off a pass from Osticco with 7:04 left in the third quarter to give Scranton Prep a 7-1 lead. Then, Hinton scored off an assist from Osticco with 7:44 left in the fourth.
Abington Heights struck again when sophomore Hunter Riiff scored off an assist from DeRiggi with 6:06 left in the game.
Prep added the final marker when Osticco scored off a pass from Fisher.
Riiff has been encouraged by positive feedback on the state of the team from several other area coaches.
“They can recall back when their programs were just starting and they’ve all given us a lot of great props,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of my guys.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.