Lexington, River Bluff boys’ lacrosse to meet for region title Wednesday
Archrivals River Bluff and Lexington are enjoying historic seasons for their respective boys’ lacrosse programs.
The Gators improved to a program-best 11-4 on March 30 in defeating Irmo 16-4 in The Swamp. The contest also witnessed senior co-captain Kevin Flannery set a single-game program record with 10 goals.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats are having their most successful season in their seven-year history. They improved to 11-3 with a 13-9 victory over Irmo March 4.
Lexington and River Bluff will head into Wednesday’s 7 p.m. season-finale at Wildcat Stadium with undefeated records in Region 5-5A, District 3.
“Our April 10th game versus River Bluff is easily the biggest regular season game either program has ever played,” Lexington head coach Mark Piepoli said. Not only is the region championship on the line, but so is the district.
“With the move to a district format for playoffs this season, playoff seeds are determined by your district standing and finish. The winner of that game will be the number-one seed in the Midlands district, but also the number-one overall seed in the lower state bracket,” he said.
Both teams owe their success to having senior-laden teams with players indoctrinated in the program since its inception.
“A majority of these guys have now been playing together since they were in seventh grade, some I even coached back when they were in fifth grade,” Piepoli said. “Having that feel on the field and knowing where guys are going to be without having to look or worry, is a nice advantage.”
“I walked into a good group of kids and it was kind of easy to kind of put everybody where they needed to be and bring it together,” said River Bluff head coach Gordie Howe, who came over two years ago from A.C. Flora.
Howe points to team captains Flannery, Dillon (Marchant), Nick Petta and goalkeeper Andrew Moss as being invaluable to the program. Conversely, Piepoli points to leaders like Ryan Zuba, who’s returned from a torn ACL, Brian Guerra, midfielders Kyle Zuba and Jackson Brady and defensemen Tanner Lewis, senior Nathan Baxley and Jordan Boggs.
Both coaches see the April 10 showdown as a game they can build upon going into the playoffs.
“If we go into Lexington with the momentum that we’ve been carrying into the final part of the season, I think the sky’s the limit for us in the post-season,” Howe said.
“I expect the game to be very close and hard fought,” Piepoli said. “These kids know each other well and have been battling on JV & Varsity for the last 4 seasons. We have both been scouting each other all season so there isn’t much we are going to do that they haven’t already seen. It’s going to come down to who wants it more.
“It’s a great thing for lacrosse in Lexington with both teams playing so well, as we attempt to bring and promote this great game to more people.”