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In one version or another, Radnor had done this before.

The three-time reigning Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AAA champions have had to replace players from year to year, role players and stars alike. The tenor this year was more pronounced, coach John Begier stepping down after last season and long-time athletic director Mike Friel leading largely the same coaching staff. The results – four losses in the regular season, including one in the league to relinquish its solo dominance over the Central League – were bumpier than in the past.

It was enough to make the climb back to the PIAA summit feel, as their shooting shirts read, like Everest. Yet at State College on Saturday, the Raptors were back at the pinnacle all the same.


A suffocating defensive performance and an attack led by Kessy Cox and Owen Knight powered the Raptors to a 9-6 over La Salle, a fifth state title for the program and fourth in a row.

Four for Four to Make History

This year’s journey has been unique for the Raptors, but then again, the challenge of building from one outstanding team to the next is a well-practiced skill and one of the program’s cornerstones.

“He (Begier) always says each team has a new identity,” defenseman Michael Savadove said. “You’ve got to close the yearbook, put the rings away and form a new identity. You’ve got new guys, got new brothers, just come together and hopefully be playing in June.”

The Class 3A final was the last of four games at Panzer Stadium, which included a thrilling rematch in the Class 2A final, won for the second straight year by Marple Newtown, 11-9, over Mars Area.

The Marquee Matchup

The PIAA brackets had always shaped up as a battle of La Salle and a Central League foe, which comprised the semifinalists. Radnor beat District 1 champion Garnet Valley to reach the final, while La Salle smothered last year’s state runner-up Springfield. Three times PIAA champs, the Explorers returned to the final for the first time since 2019. La Salle beat Radnor, 10-9 in triple overtime, in the regular season.

Radnor’s defense won the day in a matchup of star-led units, each anchored by a Harvard signee – Savadove for Radnor, and Andrew Van Stone for La Salle.

La Salle got goals from six different players. Only faceoff man Stevie Davis (Penn) had multiple points, with a goal and an assist (all in the first quarter) in a 14-for-19 day at the X.

Savadove spent most of the day muting Max Wickersham (Johns Hopkins), who scored in the fourth quarter. Paul van Bastelaar (Big 4 HHH / Penn) was held to just one goal, and while La Salle’s midfield shooters popped up at times, they were mostly efforts from distance that LIU signee Johnny Webb (12 saves) was equal to.

Bad Start, Great Finish

Davis scored just eight seconds in, sending a momentary wave of panic through Radnor. But Webb adjusted, stoning him on the same shot in the third quarter. Savadove, playing on the wing on draws, used his athleticism to check Davis’s forward momentum on wins.

“My mindset was to come in red hot to start and I didn’t,” Webb said. “I wanted to do that after the last game. Stevie Davis coming down, I’m like, Oh, God, cannot let this guy get this shot off. It was something I could’ve had, could’ve had back, but he’s a great shooter.”

Radnor received offensive contributions across the board. Nate Lucchesi (Penn) had a goal and an assist in the first quarter. Sawyer Smith put Radnor up for good, space for the attack to cook. Owen Knight orchestrated through X with four assists, including feeds to Kessy Cox and Owen Smith in the second to make it 5-2 Radnor at half.

“This Team is Nails”

La Salle got within 5-4 in the third, but Owen Smith and Tommy Goldstein had answers, both set up by Knight. Cox took over in the fourth, his goal with 10 minutes left returning the advantage to four. He finished his hat trick at 6:00, and Webb made several saves down the stretch, gobbling up desperate shots from the outside from La Salle.

It capped a unique chapter in the Raptors’ history, one deserving of the program’s pantheon.

“The one word I would say nails,” Savadove said. “This team’s nails. We’re gritty. We’re ready to play. We may not have the commits, but we’re ready to play.”

A Tantalizing (and Familiar) Undercard

Like last year, the Class 2A game pitted Marple Newtown and Mars Area in arguably a more engrossing affair.

It didn’t quite live up the Tigers’ 11-10 buzzer-beating win in 2023. But the 11-9 decision for Marple this time around was eerily reminiscent.

Mars led 6-1 after one quarter in 2023. It was 5-2 Saturday, Marple doing exactly what it knew it couldn’t afford to.

“It was a slow start, but we battled our way back,” attackman Brian Box (Cornell) said. “We knew we’ve been in that position before.”

Both teams have gotten used to the big stage. Mars won the title over Marple in 2022, a first crown for a District 7 (Pittsburgh area) team.

“I think it’s just a numbers thing,” attackman Ian Coulter said. “We’ve played in so many big games and just going off of that, every game, you get more prepared. The jitters are definitely still there, but you learn how to deal with it and that definitely helps going into the game and staying calm and ready to go.”

The Tigers found their way back into the game. Mars Area led 6-2 early in the second quarter when Coulter completed his hat trick. But Marple trimmed it to within 7-4 at half.

It got even in the third thanks to a three-goal run by Evan Kostack. The last two came 12 seconds apart. Mars took the lead headed into the fourth quarter thanks to a superb solo effort by Enzo Grieco, the Penn State signee bulling through three guys at midfield to score in transition with 12 ticks left.

Marple Doubles Up

Ryan Keating lowered his shoulder to blast home a 15-yard shot at 9:54, and Marple was ahead 70 seconds later when defensive middie Brett Wolski rifled home in transition. Ben Bowser’s second goal got Mars back on level footing, but Box stepped up late. He scored with 3:22 to play, after hitting the post and riding back to cause a turnover on the same possession, then took a Keating feed to rush upfield at gle and snap off a top-corner rip at 2:57 to set the final margin.

Marco D’Alicandro took it from there, with 10 saves on the day, including a pair of late denials of Grieco, to seal a second crown.

“It definitely feels a little different,” Box said. “You still have that chip on your shoulder, especially after that first year. We wanted that vengeance, and now it’s keeping it at home.”

PIAA Class AAA Championships Game Standouts

Stevie Davis ’24, faceoff midfield, La Salle (Pa.) – Penn

The best faceoff midfielder in the PIAA was excellent. He set the tone eight seconds in with a goal. He was 14-for-19 at the X, and while Radnor limited his offensive impact, he provided La Salle a steady supply. His ability at 6v6 makes him La Salle’s most dangerous offensive player from midfield.

Michael Savadove ’24, defense, Radnor (Pa.) – Harvard 

Savadove is just a winner – four times in his high school career, to be exact. And he made winning plays time and again. He muted Wickersham most of the day (a short-stick covered Wickersham when he scored in the fourth), and his heady sliding made sure La Salle’s middies generated precious little. Savadove’s hustle covering shots and outletting clears was valuable beyond measure.

Owen Knight ’24, attack, Radnor (Pa.) – Drexel

Knight’s measurables don’t wow you, at 5-8 and with good but not great quickness. But he just makes plays. You don’t score 112 points at Radnor by accident, and you don’t account for a goal and four assists in a state final unless you’re doing something very right. His connection with Kessy Cox, a sniper of the first order, is outstanding. Knight was the perfect matchup for La Salle’s physical defense: Instead of engaging physically, he used his passing vision and slipperiness to create space for others.

Tyler Vitale ’25, SSDM, Radnor (Pa.) 

Part of the credit for the shackling of La Salle’s midfield goes to Vitale. Davis, while great, had a goal in transition and an assist man-up. The rest of the time, he had Vitale as a shadow. He stands a solid 5-10, has outstanding feet, great stick work and a strong upper body. Vitale stepped into a role vacated by Cooper Mueller, and while he doesn’t have Mueller’s all-around game, you can tell just how many pointers he picked up from watching the Princeton middie.

Johnny Webb ’24, goalie, Radnor (Pa.) – LIU 

Copy/paste a bunch of the stuff written about Knight. Webb isn’t all that tall and doesn’t necessarily look the part. Tell that to La Salle’s blue-chippers, who couldn’t find a way around him. Webb’s understanding with his defense is elite. Radnor forces opponents into the shots that they want them to take, the ones that Webb wants them to take. He doesn’t give up soft goals, he handles shots from distance cleanly and he’s excellent on clears.

PIAA Class AA Championships Game Standouts

Evan Kostack ’26, attack, Marple Newtown (Pa.)

Kostack isn’t big, and if his family history is any indication, he’s probably not going to get big. But he’s so elusive through X that it doesn’t matter. Kostack is the least heralded member of the Marple attack – Box is bound for Cornell; Joey Yukenavitch is the program’s all-time points leader. But Kostack is the one who stepped up in the postseason. He had 27 goals and 35 points in seven districts and states games, including three and one in a 6-3 win in the semifinals and four and one Saturday. That’s big time.

David Bertoline ’24, LSM, Marple Newtown (Pa.) – High Point

Bertoline was arguably Marple’s most consistent player in the postseason. He created turnovers left and right. He’s a one-man clear. Bertoline set up Kostack’s game-tying goal with a GB. His athleticism is excellent, and he’s growing in his defensive instincts as he matures as a lacrosse player. And oh by the way, he had 13 goals and 16 assists this year. Those are legit numbers.

Ian Coulter ’25, attack, Mars Area (Pa.)

Enzo Grieco gets and deserves most of the attention. But Mars got going early because of Coulter finding the space around him. He works well off ball and is a consistent finisher. He’s got the all-purpose moves to lose his man, and he can keep the ball moving well off the dodge or in the 6-on-6. Coulter is an intriguing prospect.

Jack McKenzie ’24, faceoff, Mars Area (Pa.) – UMBC 

Coulter called McKenzie “our team MVP,” and Saturday provided proof. McKenzie won 14 of 24 draws. He was 8-for-13 at half and a big reason why Mars was ahead. His timing is impeccable and he has very fast hands. He doesn’t make many mistakes with the ball. Only when Marple committed numbers to stopping his progress forward and extending battles on the ground their they turn the game around.