By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/13/10
With the help of a number of dedicated lacrosse leaders, a former Villanova player and a large group of enthusiastic young players, the Audenried boys’ lacrosse team faced off for its first game Saturday in the first Public League season.
Audenried opened its season with an 11-1 loss to George Washington as part of a boys’ doubleheader at the South Philly SuperSite. But the debut was an occasion for celebration in a new league that features six teams.
Other squads include FitzSimons, the only boys’ team last year, as well as Northeast, Mastery Charter-Shoemaker and Delaware Valley Charter. Also Saturday, Master Charter-Shoemaker defeated Del-Val, 7-4. Two games also were played last Tuesday.
The Public League girls’ season kicked off last Thursday (see story posted last week). There are six girls’ teams competing this year.
Audenried, which only has 9th- and 10th-graders this year, fields 24 players. The team is coached by former Villanova player Bill Thompson (head coach) and Robert Miller, the school’s athletic director.
Thompson wrote a US Lacrosse equipment grant to get the program started a year and a half ago. He also began coaching players last year in an informal club.
The grant helped the team acquire all the needed equipment except helmets and long poles. The rest of the required equipment was provided by the L.E.A.P.S. program and the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association, which has donated thousands of dollars this year alone to help get the program started. L.E.A.P.S. (Lacrosse, Education, Attitude, Perseverance and Success) is co-directed by former Philly natives John Christmas and Eric Gregg. One of the goals for the doubleheader was assembled by John Benci, who is coaching both the boys’ and girls’ teams at Delaware Valley Charter.
Miller noted that Gregg and Christmas – a volunteer assistant at Penn – have brought the Penn players over to Audenried to run clinics.
“We have been very blessed,” Miller said. “Having the Penn players over was a neat experience. It’s all very exciting.
“Some of the local people here in the Grays Ferry section have come over t watch us practice, asking, ‘What is this sport?’
“I think this is helping bring people together.”
Miller gave credit to George Washington in Saturday’s win, but noted that his team is very young.
“We only have 9th- and 10th-graders and most of them have never played,” he said. “I think in the next two years you will see so much improvement.”