By Jeremy Balan
The Branson School defense completely shut down Lick-Wilmerding High School in the second half en route to a 6-1 victory on Wednesday at Boxer Stadium.
The Tigers (0-3) actually out-shot Branson (2-4) 10-9 in the first half, but only managed five shots in the second half, while Branson controlled possession for almost the entirety of the fourth quarter.
“They play a zone defense and that’s the first time we’ve seen that,” said Lick-Wilmerding Head Coach John Hutchinson. “Because we’re young and inexperienced, we weren’t really able to adjust that quickly to it. It was a learning experience.”
The Tigers had several quality scoring opportunities in the first half, but were held down by Branson junior goaltender Witt DeLuca, who had seven saves in the half, including several stops on close-range opportunities.
“Witt had a great game,” said Branson Head Coach Rick Blick. “It was the best game I’ve ever seen him play. We’re using a defense to try to get him some longer shots and it worked.”
DeLuca wasn’t challenged in the second half, but still held the Tigers scoreless with three saves.
“We have some shooters and he was shutting them down,” Hutchinson said.
The Bulls were led by a game-high three goals from senior Samuel Kieckhefer.
“If he bounced the ball, he could have had [five] goals,” Blick said.
The lone Lick-Wilmerding goal came from senior attacker Michael Blumberg with 3:04 remaining in the second quarter.
The Tigers, who graduated 10 seniors from last season’s squad that finished 7-10, now feature 10 freshmen in what may turn out to be a rebuilding effort.
“We have 10 freshmen, but they’re freshmen,” Hitchinson said. “We’re so young that at the end [of the game] we were playing with a whole line who have never played lacrosse. This was the first game they have gotten into.”