Lake-Lehman’s defense is young, but still relatively experienced in terms of the first-year Wyoming Valley Conference boys lacrosse league.
The performance of that experienced group has allowed the Black Knights to move into second place out of seven teams.
“Our defense is very good,” said T.J. Labar, a sophomore at Penn State/Wilkes-Barre who moved up from assistant to head coach after one non-league game this spring.
Labar played on the first Lake-Lehman team two years ago.
The WVC includes two programs still in their first year and the Black Knights have managed to shut out those teams in all three meetings. Lake-Lehman defeated North Pocono, 13-0, in the conference opener and, 6-0, Tuesday night. It also blanked Scranton Prep, 6-0.
“Our defense is strong so we’re emphasizing defense,” Labar said. “We’re improving on offense.
“As long as we can hold the ball, we should be able to keep improving.”
Lake-Lehman is 5-3 in conference play with the help of sophomore goalie Jake Yaple, sophomore defender Phil Hettes and junior defender Justin Winters, who are all returning starters.
Sophomore Dave Kessner played in the shutout of Scranton Prep, but has been sidelined by an injury. Senior Hunter Hackling has taken over on defense in Kessner’s absence.
Labar said Yaple, who came up through the Back Mountain Bandits program and has played the sport for 10 years, is one of the best goalies in the league.
“He’s very athletic,” Labar said. “He’s quick to react and he knows how to keep himself inside the cage and how to read shooters.
“He does a good job, even on close shots, of confusing the shooters.”
Yaple is just one example of how Lake-Lehman benefits from experience in a sport still largely in its growth stage in northeastern Pennsylvania.
“Most of the kids have played for the Back Mountain Bandits and now Lehman has its own junior high team,” Labar said. “We’re an up-and-coming team.
“I was expecting that we could have this kind of season.”
Lake-Lehman trails only unbeaten Delaware Valley in the WVC standings. They have the only two winning records while Dallas is in third place with a .500 record.