By Alex Frazier
Courtesy of Suburbanonesports.com
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/13/09
In February 2005, there were only 16 players on the Upper Merion roster.
“We weren’t even sure if we were going to start a team,” said UM coach Brady McCormick.
The Vikings, however, finished that year with 34 players. And when a seventh and eighth grade was started the following year, the sport was assured.
Today, the youth program extends down to kindergarten, guaranteeing a long line of experienced players in the future.
“It ballooned really, really quickly,” said McCormick.
Upper Merion remained a club team for three years before taking on full varsity status last year. The Vikings’ debut was an impressive one as they finished fifth in the league. Even more notable is their 4-0 start (6-0 overall) of the 2009 season.
Upper Merion graduated only two seniors from last year with the bulk of the returners being juniors and sophomores. One notable freshman returning this year is goalie Conor Crowe.
“He’s been completely invaluable to us,” said McCormick. “He’s a smart kid and having that back there as a sophomore is really huge. He understands the defense and communicates well.”
And is a National Honor Society student as well.
At the other end of the field, the Vikings have a pair of dangerous attackers. Junior Nate Hare broke teammate Heath Kupecky’s the season scoring record last year as a sophomore with 38 goals and 24 assists.
“He’s a very, very talented player and he’s still developing basically everyday,” said McCormick.
In the first five games, Hare has scored 19 goals and added 10 assists, while Kupecky has 11 goals and 17 assists.
“Having those two is a great one-two punch on attack,” said McCormick.
The Vikings also have a solid, cohesive defensive unit of two seniors, a junior and a sophomore, who rotates in. Alex Phanthavong and Alex Kurbjin are the two elder statesmen of the defense, while Tyler Zeoli is a junior and soph Tyler Rehm subs in.
Phanthavong was also the quarterback of the football team. “He’s one of those rare kids that’s just an athlete,” said McCormick.
It’s also a good sign that the program is attracting football players, who tend to be good athletes. Junior Ryan Flansbury plays long stick in the midfield. He was a second team all-conference selection last year and should make first team this year.
Offensively, James Brennen is the best faceoff man and has a canon for a shot. “He’s basically a walking muscle,” said McCormick.
Seniors Sean Dugan and John Simons round out the key midfielders.
“This is the first year we had cuts,” said McCormick. “The interest level is definitely growing.”
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