By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/3/08
Championship day has arrived.
Tonight at two venues, three Philly champions will be crowned in boys’ and girls’ lacrosse.
At Garnet Valley High (7:30), top-seeded Malvern Prep (21-2) meets second-seeded La Salle (29-2) for the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (EPSLA) title and a chance to play Friday for the Keystone Cup title.
Meanwhile, at Marple Newtown High, two District One girls’ championship games will be held. First at 6:00 in the Class AA final, top-seeded Great Valley (19-3) meets second-seeded Springfield-Delco (17-3).
Then, at 8:00 in Class AAA, top-seeded and undefeated Radnor (22-0) squares off against second-seeded Bayard Rustin (17-2).
The boys’ title game has extra meaning because it is the final EPSLA game ever. Next year the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) takes over jurisdiction of boys’ lacrosse and one overall state champion will be crowned – without the powerful Inter-Ac League, which is not a member of the PIAA.
On Friday, the winner of the EPSLA will meet the winner of tonight’s game between the Central Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association champion (Manheim Township) and Western Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association (Mt. Lebanon).
That game, in essence, will be for the final “true” state champion the state may have in any sport.
The games tonight not only are between the two top-seeded teams, they feature the top-ranked teams in the Phillylacrosse.com polls. Malvern unseated La Salle as the top-ranked team in the boys’ poll four weeks ago and Radnor has been No. 1 for eight weeks, taking over for Springfield-Delco, now No. 3. Rustin is ranked second and Great Valley is ranked fourth.
Here are short recaps of tonight’s games:
EPSLA final: Malvern Prep (21-2) vs. La Salle (29-2) at Garnet Valley, 7:30 p.m. The Explorers won the regular-season meeting, 7-6, on April 17. The Friars have won 13 straight games since then and have not given up more than seven goals in any game.
Malvern is paced by all-EPSLA picks Chris Layne (midfield), Matt Mackrides (midfield), Conor Steidle (attack), Colin McGeehin (attack), Billy Connors (defense), Chris Creighton (defense) and Andrew O’Connell (goalie). Mackrides and Layne also were Under Armour All-American selections.
La Salle is led by all-EPSLA choices Conrad Ridgway (midfield), Pete Schwartz (midfield), Tucker Durkin (defense) and Niko Amato (goalie). Ridgway also was an Under Armour All-American pick and attackers Westy Hopkins and Randy Forster – both first-team all-Catholic League Northern Division selections – are key to the Explorers’ balanced offense.
Malvern Prep won the EPSLA and Keystone Cup titles two years ago while La Salle won them in 2004. The Explorers were ranked seventh in the last STX/Inside Lacrosse National High School Rankings released May 15. Malvern was eighth.
Class AA final: Great Valley (19-3) vs. Springfield-Delco (17-3) at Marple Newtown, 6 p.m. The teams did not meet this year. Springfield, the two-time defending champion, also won the title in 2003 and 2004. Great Valley won it in 2005.
The Cougars have lost all three of their games by one goal, to New Jersey’s Shawnee (10-9), Unionville (12-11), and undefeated Radnor (13-12) in what amounted to a Central League championship game.
Springfield is led by all-Central League first-team picks Sam Tajarian (midfield), Madison Poplawski (midfield), Aly Adams (midfield) and Meghan Kearney (goalie) and second team selections Rebecca Hartrum (attack) and Shannon Doyle (defense).
Great Valley relies on senior tri-captains Kim Wenger, Emily Ellisen and Keelin Hood as well as Haley Sheehan and defender Jasmine Colombel.
Class AAA final: Radnor (22-0) vs. Bayard Rustin (17-2) at Marple Newtown, 8 p.m. The Red Raiders have been on a roll all season and were challenged only once, by Springfield, in a 13-12 victory that saw Radnor rally late in the second half from a two-goal deficit.
Bayard Rustin, meanwhile, has the added incentive of playing with the knowledge that its popular coach, Dale Watkins, is retiring after a long career as both a boys’ and girls’ coach.
Rustin is led by midfielders Allison Tatios and Morgan Holbrook, attackers Alyssa Gallen and Leanna Brewer and goalie Kelsey Sward.
Radnor has an explosive attack led by all-Central league first-team picks Beth Ellis, Kelly Barnes (also an Under Armour All-American) and Kelyn Freedman (midfielders) and second-team choices Molly Early (attack) and Sam Ellis (attack). Courtney Campbell (attack) and Gabby Miller (midfield) are also key scorers. Second-team pick Kacie Connors heads the defense.