By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/18/09
Springfield-Delco, expected to be a contender in Philadelphia’s rugged Central League, will meet North Jersey power Ridgewood at 9 a.m. as a special preliminary game to the Big City Classic April 4 at Giants Stadium.
A crowd of more than 20,000 is expected for the inaugural Big City Classic, which features three major college men’s matchups: North Carolina vs. Virginia at noon, Syracuse vs. Princeton at 2:30, and Hofstra vs. Delaware at 5:00. Inside Lacrosse is sponsoring the event.
Springfield went 16-6 last year with a sophomore-laden team, placing second in the Central League while also reaching the quarterfinals of the Eastern Pennsylvania Scholastic Lacrosse Association playoffs. The Cougars, coached by Michael Friel, finished eighth in the final Phillylacrosse.com Top 10 Poll and 113th in the National LaxPower Computer Ratings.
Ridgewood, coach by Mike Pounds, went 18-5 last year. The Maroons claimed the Bergen County title and the New Jersey Group 3 state championship before falling in the semifinals of the Tournament of Champions. Ridgewood finished 56th in the LaxPower National Computer Rankings.
Pounds is helping promote the Big City Classic with other lacrosse organizations in the Ridgewood community. He and Friel agreed to play each other after their teams met at Champ Camp last summer at Johns Hopkins, and both welcomed an invitation to play in front of the big stage at the Meadowlands.
“We’re involved in promoting the tournament and possibly having (Giants Stadium) host the NCAA tournament in a couple of years,” Pounds said. “When they were putting the schedule together, we got involved in conversations and they thought it was a good idea to have two high school teams onboard.
“We’ve gone back a few years,” Pounds added of his team’s recent rivalry with Springfield-Delco. “We’ve seen each other twice in Champ Camp, and one year we scrimmaged down there. It’s going to be a great day. Both schools are excited about the game and we’ll all get involved in a tailgate afterwards.”
Friel said his team is thrilled to play a top-notch program in a pro stadium.
“This is a great chance for our guys to play great competition with the backdrop of a major college tournament,” he said. “We’re going to stay after the game and watch the college games. The kids are so excited.
“Playing this type of competition can only help us.”
Friel said Springfield has only three seniors on its roster, but has a standout junior class. One of those juniors, defender Brendan Nave, has committed to Penn State and Friel said at least five others are receiving significant Division I interest. Four of his juniors were first-team All-Central League picks last year as sophomores: goalie Austin Kaut, long stick midfielder Joe Addona, middie Josh Cavanaugh and attacker Colin Keegan. Also, senior defender Matt Maccario has signed with Wheeling Jesuit.
Pounds said his team lost a number of key seniors (17 in all) and is young, but should again be a force in Bergen County with a cast led by attacker Ryan Polak (signed with Duke) and long stick midfielder Pat Kiernan (Navy).
“We do have a lot of young players and I don’t think we’ll be quite as strong,” he said. “We lost a ton to graduation, but we’ll be very capable. I expect it to be no different from the other times we’ve played. It will be a very competitive game. He (Friel) does a good job with his team.”