By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/13/08
Ricci, a senior long-stick midfielder, and Adams, a senior goalie, each played against Nick Colleluori and his Ridley Green Raiders as Central League rivals in high school.
Saturday’s event, which drew 10,000 spectators and raised over $150,000 for blood cancer research, served as the final Fall Ball games of the year for Penn State and Loyola. Ricci and Adams both felt their homecomings were even more special knowing the fight Colleluori gave before succumbing to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma two years ago wh ile playing for Hofstra.
“It was special for me because I played against the Colleluoris (Michael is a senior at Hofstra),” said Ricci, a first-team all-ECAC choice last year who graduated from Conestoga High. “We didn’t go (to the inaugural Colleluori Classic) last year, but we wore the (lime green) shoelaces because (senior teammate) Steve Layne knew Colleluori and the family and helped us step up the support.
“This was a lot bigger than just our team playing in an event; look at the purpose we were playing for.”
Ricci is happy with the Greyhounds’ position. Last year Loyola (7-7) won its first ECAC championship and bowed to Duke, 12-7, in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
Ricci, meanwhile, led the team with 80 groundballs while adding three goals and three assists and has been tabbed by Inside Lacrosse as a defender to watch for 2009.
“I’m pretty happy with what happened with our team Saturday,” Ricci said. “It pretty much was the culmination of the entire fall. I’m real happy with the offense, the defense and the way we played as a team.
“Last year was a pretty good year. We won the ECAC and I think we surprised some teams. We didn’t surprise ourselves. Every year we expect to win the league and go to the tournament. I know we have a really good team, the players know it and the coaches know it. It’s just a question of whether we execute.”
Ricci, known for his smarts and speed, admits he does not possess great stick skills.
“I think I benefit from what our face-off guys do and our wing play. I get a lot of groundballs from them and try to capitalize on what the rest of the team does. When they cause turnovers I pick up groundballs and go.
“Since I started as a sophomore, I have been good at groundballs. I never had that great of stick skills. I am awful, to tell the truth. Picking balls off the ground and running are my biggest strengths.”
Adams, a Springfield-Delco product, won the ECAC Goalie of the Year Award all three years and has been named honorable mention All-American twice at Penn State. Adams has started in each of the 40 games he has played and has collected 482 saves, which is sixth all-time at Penn State and less than 100 away from the school record. He also has a sub-8.00 goals against average for his career.
The Nittany Lions, though were a disappointing 7-7 last year (3-3 in the ECAC) and have much to prove in 2009.
“I thought we did well today,” said Adams. “I thought we improved on some things we were working on. I thought we could have done a little better in the second game (against Penn), we were sloppy at some points. But overall we were happy with it.
“I want to go out on a good note. Lineup-wise, we feel like we have one of the best teams in the country.
“Depending on if we can put the pieces together and get to where we want to be, it’s going to take work and take preparation and consistency. We are excited for the year, to say the least.”
On Saturday, the Lions were excited to be at Ridley, located in suburban Philadelphia. No less than 18 of the members are from the Philly area, including the team’s top scorer from last year, senior attacker Rob Forster (La Salle), sophomore defender Matt Bernier (Malvern Prep) and highly-touted freshmen Jack Forster (La Salle, out last year with knee injury), U.S. Under-19 standout Matt Mackrides (Malvern Prep) and Conrad Ridgway (La Salle).
“It’s really neat playing here,” Adams said. “I couldn’t ask for a better place to come back and play and I know all the Philly guys feel the same way. I grew up playing here. It was a lot of fun.”
Adams has received much publicity this fall and is considered one of the top returning goalkeepers in the country by nearly every lacrosse observer.
“I read the stuff, but I don’t let it affect my play,” he said. “Whether or not I’m the best goalie in the country has nothing to do with how we play as a team. I’d much rather be the worst and have a national championship than be the best and not be anywhere.
“It is a little added pressure knowing I have expectations. But if we can go out and play and have the year that everyone on our team thinks we can have, that will be fine with me.”