By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/23/10
Many have been playing together for five or even 10 years for Philly teams in the post-collegiate club lacrosse scene.
That combination of experience and youthful exuberance helped drive GMH Philadelphia Lacrosse Club to its first American Lacrosse League championship Saturday when it defeated Baltimore’s DeWalt LC, 9-7, in the national championship in Baltimore.
GMH had reached the Eastern finals (semifinals) each of the first three years of the ALL tourney, only to fall to New York Athletic Club. This year GMH toppled three-time defending champion NYAC, 11-7, in the Eastern finals.
Formerly, GMH had been known as MAB Paints and played in the United States Club Lacrosse Association (USCLA), which merged with the ALL. MAB had claimed the USCLA crown in 2006, the first year a Philly team had ever won a men’s national club title.
In this championship drive, GMH went 12-1 and peaked in the playoffs. In Saturday’s game, it opened an 8-4 third-period lead and never let DeWalt get closer than the final score.
“A lot of us have been together for six or eight years and there are 14 of us from the team when it was known as MAB,” said veteran defenseman Marc Schaffer, a Ridley grad who played collegiately at St. Joseph’s University.
“Many of us have played together in high school or college ball and we’ve built such great relationships,” he added. “Our families grow up together. Another thing is that we’ve had the opportunity to play for a team that is so organized and so put together that nothing less than a championship is unacceptable
“The third thing is the mix of talent, and the fact we have no egos. We play lacrosse and have a good time. It’s just as much fun being with these guys on the field as off the field.”
GMH has strong leadership from sponsors Gary and Michael Holloway, head coach Jeff Murray, assistant coach Drew Pressman, and GM Chris McNichol.
“No club team does it the way they do it,” said Schaffer. “The support we get from Chris, Jeff and Drew and from the Holloways is amazing. No club team has this much organization.”
This year McNichol brought it several key elements, such as Team USA goalie Brian Dougherty (Episcopal Academy), Rob Forster (three goals in championship game/La Salle), Ryan Cranston (two goals/Henderson), ace defenders Brett Moyer (Ridley) and Sean Dougherty (Malvern Prep) and Casey O’Rourke (Haverford School).
“The addition of some of these key guys really helped,” Schaffer said. “Brian Dougherty is a huge talent and he brings up our level of play. He is like a coach on the field, too.
“We have a good mix of youth and a talented core of guys that have been around. They show leadership and steadiness.”
“It’s great that we were the first Philly team to win the championship in the USCLA regime and now we’re able to win another one with the leagues merged. This is very special for the players’ perspectives because we can give back to Mr. Holloway for all he has done for us.”
Added veteran defenseman Chris Bryan (Ridley/Rutgers): “I think we have a lot of camaraderie and commitment and the guys blend together so well. We have the guys that have been around and the young talent.
“The organization is first-class all the way and this championship says a lot about the talent pool in Philadelphia.”
Dougherty, a former Major League Lacrosse standout who decided to leave the league this year as he prepared for the World Championships next month in Manchester, England, was thrilled to be a part of the title.
“I called Chris McNichol and he asked if I wanted to be the goalie,” said Dougherty. “I don’t think he believed me at first. But he said here are the dates and I only missed one game – against Quaker LC – due to a commitment with Team USA.
“Winning is sun whether it happens in pro, high school, college or club. It was a fun group of guys and they are all from Philly and guys I have known a long time.”
Forster, who starred at Penn State, said he was happy to contribute to the title and said the veteran players showed great leadership.
“I was probably the youngest guy on the team,” he said. “It was cool playing with a lot of guys that have played professionally and know a lot about the game.
“Just to be able to help was rewarding for me. The Holloways sacrifice so much for this team. They flew us to Boston for the Eastern championships. Coming into GMH, I had no idea what it was about – but I had a blast the whole time. It was exciting.”
GMH Philadelphia LC
Head Coach: Jeff Murray
General Manager: Chris McNichol
Gary Holloway & Mike Holloway – GMH Associates
NUMBER NAME POSITION COLLEGE
1 Brian Neary Midfield Drexel
2 Todd Fairlie Midfield Widener
3 Mike Collelouri Midfield Hofstra
4 George Castle Midfield Johns Hopkins
5 Casey O’Rourke Attack Pennsylvania
6 Eric Gregg Goalie Gettysburg
7 Chris Bryan Defense Rutgers
8 Matt Murray Goalie Marymount
9 Mike Holloway Attack Villanova
10 Chris Gannet Midfield Penn State
11 Bill McKinney Defense Denver
12 Rob Forster Attack Penn State
13 Mike Morsell Attack Maryland
14 Cory Munsterteiger Defense Kenyon
15 Brett Moyer Defense Hofstra
16 David Gaunt Midfield Lehigh
17 Mike Dolente Midfield Cabrini
18 Matt McKinney Midfield Stockton
19 Jason Grace Defense York
20 Adam Goodwin Midfield Denver
21 Jim Bruder Midfield Delaware
22 Dusty Smith Midfield Massachusetts
23 Dan Honeywell Defense Lehigh
24 Saji Najdonwi Defense Villanova
26 Jack Morrison Defense Whittier
27 Karl Baur Midfield West Chester
28 Marc Schaffer Defense St. Joseph’s
29 Ryan Holloway Midfield Villanova
31 Matt MacMillan Defense Gettysburg
32 Jesse Tarr Defense Penn State
33 Brian Dougherty Goalie Maryland
34 Dave Stilley Defense Duke
35 Ryan Cranston Midfield Lynchburg
36 Brian Tingle Midfield Delaware
40 Sean Dougherty Defense Notre Dame
44 Jeff Spano Midfield Drexel