Mt. Lebanon defeated Shady Side Academy 5-4 on March 31st.
Tonight, they meet again in the WPIAL title game. We asked coaches from around the league to share their thoughts on how they would defeat the finalists.
Highlights from the Mt. Lebanon perspective:
Max Jaffe is a streaky player for the SSA attack. He has potential to have big games and Lebo needs to know where is on the field and not put all of their focus on Marous.
Shady Side is difficult to score on. Our players are instructed to be within 10 yards of the goal or don’t shoot; otherwise, it is simply a turnover.
Concede the face off to Shady Side and get your best long pole on Woodings immediately. Lock off the outlets and go after him, wear him down.
SSA has one of the league’s better offensive threats on their attack unit. Dan Morous is an extremely hard worker on and off the ball. He doesn’t always score with grace, but his will to score is what guarantees him points in every game for SSA. I’m not a huge fan of locking someone off, but keeping #11 from getting hot is a must if Lebo wants to win this game.
SSA does not have a deep threat on their offense. Lebo needs to play a more packed in defense limiting their total slides and forcing SSA to take bad shots. Sliding early to #11 may be necessary if he starts winning his match-up early in the game, but I think Lebo needs to win the 1v1 match-up between their D and the SSA attack in order to control this game.
You must stop Dan Marous (WPIAL Player of the Year) and you must find a way to penetrate a defense that packs it in or beat Tucker Gilman (WPIAL Goalie of the Year) from the outside.
Mikey Concordia (Bates) was held in check against USC in the semifinals. Shady Side got secondary scoring from middie Robby Woodings and attackman Max Jaffe. Lebo could be in trouble if Concordia breaks out and Woodings and Jaffe chip in again.
Dan Lee will be the x-factor for the Mt. Lebo offense. If he has a big night, they will be hard to stop.
Do not get into a running game with Mt. Lebanon. If you don’t have a clear 4 on 3 then pull it out and play ball possession.
Lebo has an attack that plays as such an x-factor for their offense. Sam White #12 is the guy that you focus on and game plan around in order to slow down the flow for Lebo’s production. A lot of their goals come from an initiation from the midfield with and inside feed off the dodge. Shady Side must pack the backside of the field and match the level of the dodge from their dmids. I don’t care how good the SSA goalie is, no defense can afford to let Lebo get open shots on the door step.
Lebo does not move the ball to the backside well. If I were SSA I would pack it in and run an adjacent slide package forcing Lebo to rely on #2 and #22 to win them the game from the attack position. This would keep a defenseman inside on Sam White, forcing Lebo shoot more from the outside or moving the ball to the adjacent pass rather than to the middle.
Mt. Lebanon’s offense is at their best in transition. In settled sixes they look inside. Against North Allegheny, they couldn’t get inside due to the Tigers’ zone defense. Shady Side gave up several goals inside in settled offense. Could be the deciding factor.
You must stop the two headed monster they have at the midfield with Brian Ward (Yale) and Brian Kelly (Mercer) and get past a defense that plays well as a team.
Brian Kelly is a natural attackman playing midfield. Will SSA double pole the midfield?
Face off is at 8pm. Follow @4onetwolax for game updates.