By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/27/10
The Duke’s 2 club team may have been considered an underdog to many when it entered play last week in the 21st Champ Camp Tournament at Johns Hopkins, but the team itself expected to challenge for the title.
That’s why Duke’s 2 co-coach Marty Kupprion was not surprised when Duke’s 2 – despite fielding many rising sophomores and juniors – advanced to the finals of the summer’s top boys’ club tourney and faced four-time defending champion Duke’s 1.
Despite falling, 10-3, in the finals to its brother team (see article), Duke’s 2 finished 8-1 and has established itself as one of the top club teams in the nation. Several weeks ago Duke’s 2 also reached the semifinals of the prestigious Tri-State (N.J.) tourney where it fell to Duke’s 1 in a tight one-goal game.
To reach the finals, Duke’s 2 defeated Maryland’s Belax, 7-1, in the quarterfinals and NESLL 1 (New England), 8-6, in the semifinals. Belax had eliminated Duke’s 2 from the championship round last year.
Against Belax, rising senior Billy Donovan (Unionville) scored two goals while rising sophomore Brandyn O’Connell (Downingtown East), rising senior Dan Kinek (Emmaus), rising senior Kurtis Kaunas (Parkland), rising junior Parker Self (Central Bucks East) and rising senior Andrew Caldwell (Penncrest) each scored once. Donovan, Kinek, rising junior Jeremy Omrod (Holy Ghost Prep), rising junior Henry Blynn (Haverford School) and rising sophomore Nick Valentino (Hempfield) each had assists.
In the win over NESLL, Donovan – who led the team with 14 goals – again scored twice while rising senior Richard Kaiser (Unionville) scored twice and Caldwell, Kaunas and O’Connell and rising sophomore Matt King (Avon Grove) scored goals. King’s came from his spot at long pole on a length-of-the-field dash. Assists came from rising sophomore long pole Adam Weaver (Henderson) on a full-length fast break as well as King on another fast break, and Self.
In the loss to Duke’s 1, rising senior midfielder Blair Bonner (West Chester East), rising junior face-off specialist Jon Garino (Episcopal Academy) and Omrod scored once each. Kiney had an assist.
“We made the finals at Tri-State two weeks ago and lost to Duke’s 1 by one goal,” said Kupprion, who coached with Joe Vetrone (head coach, goalies), Dan Deckelbaum (box),
Chris Fallon (defense) and Mike Dolente (face-offs). “We had clear expectations and that was not to do well, but to make the finals, and we were pretty sure we’d be there against Duke’s 1.
“The success at that previous tournament set the table. We played with the best club team (Duke’s 1) in the country and we knew it was a legitimate goal. We kept (winning) and stayed focused and business-like.
“You don’t expect so many rising sophomores and young guys to stay so business-like, but it was great to set high expectations and to reach them by knocking down obstacles in their way.”
Kupprion said the win over Belax was a major triumph. “They knocked us out last year in a controversial game and a handful of guys are back and remembered that,” he said. “We took that game personally and wanted to make a statement.
“Then we played NESLL at 8:30 under the lights at Homewood Field in the semifinals. That was like our championship game.”
Kupprion said the entire Duke’s 2 roster contributed greatly to the second-place finish, led by the goalies. Rising sophomore Matt Barrett (Malvern Prep) established himself as a major prospect with his play while rising senior Victor Garcia (La Salle) and rising junior Tyler Morrell (Episcopal Academy) also excelled.
On defense and long pole, rising junior Chris Panichelli (Henderson) was the anchor while King, Weaver, rising juniors Ryan Guittare (Garnet Valley), Mike Paoline (Downingtown West), Eddie Morris (Malvern Prep), Casey Eidenshink (La Salle) and Connor McCann (Episcopal Academy) and rising sophomore Austin Pifani (Abington) also were standouts.
The defense also received a boost from rising junior d-middies Bryan Garrahan (Archmere Academy, DE), Jared Jacobs (Conestoga) and Kevin Galyas (Allentown Central Catholic) and rising senior d-middie Troy Moyer (Boyertown).
The offensive midfield lines featured Caldwell (nine goals), Bonner, Omrod, Kinek, Valentino, rising senior Keith Dreyer (Malvern Prep), rising juniors Chase Miller (Manheim Township) and Gregory Shildkrout (Germantown Academy) and rising sophomores Michael Sutton (St. Augustine Prep, NJ). They played key roles on offense.
Kupprion noted that face-off men Garino and rising junior Brad Perz (Conestoga) emerged during the tournament as major contributors. Garino also scored five goals.
Donovan, Kaiser (seven goals), O’Connell (five goals), Kaunas, Self, Glynn and rising freshman Conor Glancy (Malvern Prep) led a balanced attack.
“I was proud over the way that our team shared the ball and that everybody got in on the action,” Kupprion said. “In our three games on Friday, we had nine goal scorers three games in a row – which was hard to believe.
“It was fun to watch, and definitely helped as come together as a team as we moved towards the tougher match ups. Seventeen different players scored, and 16 different players contributed assists over the tournament.”
Duke’s LC head coach Ebe Helm said the program has excelled at Champ Camp for several reasons.
“We have a consistent approach to everything we do,” he said. “We have beverage coordinators, a transportation coordinator, and a social coordinator. With that type of consistency the players know they can go out and just play lacrosse.
“We have a strict curfew at night and if anyone breaks it they know they get thrown out. The second thing is the coaches. We have a head coach on each team, someone that does the box, face-offs, and each area of the games. The players are proud to be Duke’s players and they want to be held accountable.”
Helm is also proud of his program’s success in helping players go to college and to play college lacrosse. This year’s senior class had 32 players – and each is attending college and playing lacrosse. Also, the seniors enter into a mentoring program with a middle school-aged player who shows both talent and the potential to excel as a college student-athlete.
“They want to honor not only themselves and their communities, but also their schools,” he said of the players. “They know that our mission statement is to be a better person than a player. If they are an All-American player, they better be an All-American person.
“The whole focus is to bring college money to PA guys to use lacrosse as a vehicle for higher education.”