By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/21/08
Abington coach Randy McNeill says his team had not played the type of lacrosse he was expecting all year until Saturday.
With a huge game today looming against neighborhood rival La Salle, the area’s top-ranked team, the push could not have come sooner.
McNeill’s Ghosts played what he claimed was their best game of the year Saturday in the 16-8 rout of Strath Haven. After Monday’s 11-5 Suburban One National Conference triumph at Pennsbury, the Ghosts stand at 8-2 heading into today’s home grudge match with the Explorers.
La Salle, ranked first by Phillylacrosse.com and the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (EPSLA), is 17-1 and has won 16 straight games. The Explorers defeated Abington, 12-5, in the second round of the EPSLA playoffs last year.
“We are not as far along as we wanted to be,” McNeill said. “I was hoping we’d be playing better defense. I definitely think the talent and potential are there when we play together.
“Saturday was our best performance by far this year. It was a whole team effort and so far the only game where we put our whole game together.”
Abington, the defending Suburban One National champion, has lost only to teams ranked by Phillylacrosse.com, 10-9 to No. 10 Germantown Academy and 10-6 to No. 6 Conestoga.
The Ghosts’ offensive leaders have been seniors Mike Vandergrift (four goals against Pennsbury) and Johnny Casey (two goals) and sophomores Rich Rambo and Joey Jones. The defense has been balanced and first-year varsity John Cairone has shown strong development.
“We’ve lost some guys to injuries,” said McNeill, an Abington and St. Joseph’s University graduate who is in his sixth year at the helm. “We have a mix of seniors and sophomores with some juniors thrown in. Our guys have finally stepped up lately.”
Just how far the Ghosts have come will be revealed today against La Salle.
“This is a big neighborhood rivalry and these guys have played with each other and against each other,” McNeill said. “I think a game like this is about getting respect.
“They are probably ranked No. 1 and this is about them respecting us and our ability to play. It’s an opportunity for us to show people we can play.”
Hird first Shipley player to go Division I
On April 10, Shipley School senior co-captain John Hird signed to play at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., becoming the first from his school to sign a Division I letter-of-intent.
A four-year starter on attack and midfield, as well as a three-time 1st team All-Northeast League and two-time 1st Team All Friends Schools League selection, Hird helped lead Shipley to their first-ever Northeast League title in 2005 and the Friends League title in 2006.
“For four years he has been the leader of the team,” said Shipley coach Mark Duncan, who has coached Hird since 6th grade. “He plays offense, he plays defense and he has a great shot. He is a strong attackman, but he also does our face-offs. He is a big strong kid.”
Lansdale Catholic is making waves
Lansdale Catholic won its fourth straight game Friday, a 9-2 rout of Phoenixville. The Crusaders were coming off a key 9-5 Pioneer Athletic Conference win Thursday over Owen J. Roberts. William Malley scored three goals in each triumph. The Crusaders are 6-3 overall and 4-2 in the PAC.