By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, posted 3/25/08
For three periods, the Malvern Prep lacrosse team lived up to the hype.
Chris Layne scored two goals and the host Friars went out to a 6-0 lead before staving off a late rally and topping Downingtown East, 6-3, Tuesday in an early-season showdown of the past two state champions.
Malvern (3-0), loaded with Division I recruits, was ranked second in the first Phillylacrosse.com Top 10 Poll and 12th in the latest STX Inside Lacrosse National Poll. The Cougars (2-1), last year’s state champions, were ranked 3rd in the Phillylacrosse.com poll.
Layne, a midfielder who has committed to North Carolina, scored the only goal of the first period and then followed a breakaway tally by Penn State-bound Matt Mackrides to make it 3-0 midway through the second period.
Junior Conor Steidle made it 4-0 late in the half while Matt Conte (North Carolina) and Colin McGeehan (Holy Cross) added to the pad with third-period goals.
“It was good to jump on them early,” said Layne, who also assisted on the McGeehan goal. “We got the momentum and they were playing from behind.
“Our defense was strong and (goalie) Andrew (O’Connell) played awesome (five saves) in the net. In between the lines we were doing well, riding hard. A couple goals came off their turnovers. Across the board, everyone played great.”
The Cougars, however, made a late charge and totally dominated the final 12 minutes. They were outshot 21-9 in the first three periods, but had nine of the 10 fourth-period shots and pulled within 6-3 on a pair of tallies by junior Kyle Marks and one by Reed Phillips.
Still, Downingtown coach Tom Slate knows his team must improve to make a run at another state crown.
“It’s great that it’s the beginning of the year and we definitely have a lot to learn from it,” he said. “We tried to change a couple things and it just didn’t work out.
“They rode well and we didn’t clear well. That was kind of it; we didn’t get it into the offensive end and possess it, and you need a lot of possessions against a team like this.”
Layne admitted that his Friars have high expectations this year.
“We’re playing one game at a time, yeah, but the state championship is definitely in the back of our minds,” said Layne. “Anything less will be a disappointment for us, especially since this is the last year of the state championship.”