Seeking return to league supremacy, Red Lion boys' lacrosse off to strong start
The Lions improved to 2-0 with a 15-2 victory over York Suburban on Friday evening.
RED LION — There were few local teams better than Red Lion when boys’ lacrosse officially became a PIAA-sanctioned sport back in 2009. One of the perennial giants of the area, the Lions won the first three York-Adams League Division I titles.
The rest of the league, however, has caught up and even surpassed the Red Lion boys over the past decade. York Catholic, Central York and Susquehannock have all taken turns claiming bragging rights by capturing the league tournament over the past seven years.
That hasn’t sat well with the Lions, as the program is looking to reclaim its perch atop the league.
In the 2023 season, the Red Lion boys have gotten off to the type of start they envisioned. After knocking off Conestoga Valley in their opener, the Lions ran roughshod over York Suburban on Friday night at Horn Field. Senior midfielder Jack Gulley scored six goals and added a pair of assists to lead the hosts to an impressive 15-2 victory over the Trojans in both teams' York-Adams opener.
“We’re just looking to fill in some gaps in the lineup (due to graduation),” Gulley said. “Just looking to go as far as we can.”
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For Gulley and his mates, the primary goal is capturing the Y-A title, a crown that has never been won by the program since its inception in 2011. After a couple of years of missing the county playoffs, Red Lion qualified for last year’s tournament before dropping an 11-7 contest in the semifinals to eventual champ Central York.
Calming presence: Part of the optimism within the program stems from having Gulley, a 2022 first team all-star midfielder, back to lead the squad. His calming influence on the squad has been critical so far this season, as the Lions have had to find replacements for all-stars Damian Stafford and Mikey Wilburn on the attack and Jack Bradley on defense.
Gulley’s presence also has made life a bit less chaotic as the program reins were given to first-year head coach Brooks Arnold this season.
“It’s going pretty well,” Gulley said. “I’d say that everything has been going pretty good so far, pretty smooth. No issues.”
Play calling: One of the noticeable differences Friday was the attention that Arnold, a Red Lion alum and a 2016 graduate of Messiah, has done with his bench players. The bench was noticeably paying attention to the action as well as shouting out the plays the Red Lion coaches called in unison.
That may not seem like much of big deal to fans, but for players like Gulley, it has been proven beneficial already.
“I love that we’re all in the game,” Gulley said. “Like when the JV team is playing, the varsity team is running along the sidelines and cheering, and it’s true the other way around, too. (The bench yelling) definitely helps because the other team is usually screaming for their defense so it can be hard to hear sometimes, but when our team screams the play it’s pretty clear. One of our coaches just calls it, and everybody else just repeats it.”
What Gulley and Arnold hope the team also repeats is performances like Friday. The Lions won 15 of 19 faceoffs for the night, a stat that may not get the same attention as goals and saves but is critical for building momentum.
“We’re just working our game,” Arnold said. “Just keeping things moving. We did well tonight, but we still have a lot to learn.”
Miles Snyder and Landon Craley each finished with three goals for the Lions (2-0) while Luke Miller tallied two and Paul Hornberger finished with one.