This is part of a continuing series counting down the top stories of Philly lacrosse for 2009
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 12/30/09
It was a season that ended before it even began – and what an abrupt ending it was.
After weeks of rumors, Major League Lacrosse decided contract four franchises in February due to financial woes. One of the teams was the Barrage, who had won two championships (2006-07) when it played in Philadelphia before playing all its games on the road in 2008.
Also dropped were the San Francisco Dragons, coached by Tom Slate, a Springfield-Delco graduate and the coach of the Downingtown East boys’ team. Slate had coached one year for the Dragons and assembled a young and improving team filled with Philly players.
The contraction of the Barrage and Dragons, as well as the Los Angeles Riptide and New Jersey Pride left the league with six teams. Many players switched teams and, of course, many were left without jobs.
“It’s a bummer,” said Slate. “This was a dream come true for me. The kicker is that we put in all this time to build a team, and now to have it disappear, it’s tough.”
Slate said his team had high expectations after its strong finish and was expecting to challenge for a playoff berth in 2009.
“We had so many young players, and we were really looking forward to this year and getting back into the playoffs,” he said.
The Philly players who played for San Francisco included midfielders Bill McGlone (Ridley High graduate), Ryan Cranston (Henderson), Greg Gurenlian (Springfield-Delco), Mike Podgajny (Ridley), Todd Fairlie (Marple Newtown, Widener University) and Matt Ogelsby (Haverford School), attacker Xander Ritz (Radnor), and defender Steve Holmes (Germantown Academy).
Barrage coach Tony Resch, also an assistant for two-time defending state champion La Salle College High, was also hit hard.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Resch. “I felt so strongly about the group we had; the camaraderie amongst the team was so strong we were able to hang on for another year.”