By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/8/10
It went to Florida with a limited number of committed players and members from 17 different schools. But the Rebel Elite club team made its mark once again last weekend at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions at Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Rebel Elite placed sixth in the field of 26 at a tourney featuring many of the top club teams in the nation, as well as Canada. The squad went 5-3 and has reached the quarterfinals in the prestigious tourney in consecutive seasons (placed fifth in 2009).
Rebel Elite opened with victories over Ohio’s Velocity,13-7, and North Carolina’s Top Tier, 11-3. A tough, 7-6 overtime loss to Norcal (CA) left Rebel seeded 10th heading into the second day’s playoff round. Rebel Elite dumped Top Tier again, 9-3, and then handled the CT Seminoles, 10-4 before running into eventual runner-up Team Warrior, and suffering a 12-4 loss.
Rebel Elite bounced back with a 10-2 rout of Edge Jr (Ontario, Canada) and then bowed to Krunch (N.Y.) , 9-7, in the fifth-place consolation game.
“We played real well,” said Rebel Elite coach Harry Sankey. “On the second day, we handled the CT Seminoles and that was probably the best game of the tournament.
“We did pretty well with very few committed players. We have a few notable players, but mostly no-name lacrosse players playing beyond expectations. They give all desire and dedication, and that puts them above the rest. We have players from 17 different high schools; it’s not like they play together through the year; that’s what makes this special.”
The loss to Team Warrior was understandable. The squad, which fell to Edge Sr., 11-10 in the final, featured Albany recruits Lyle and Miles Thompson, two of the highest rated players in the country.
”We got handled by the Warrior team, but we did much better in the second half when we made adjustments,” Sankey said,. “That was an experience to play against talent like. They all knew each other, they were very smooth.”
Rebel Elite’s attack was led by Penn Charter junior Joey Sankey (committed to North Carolina), the coach’s son. Sankey averaged nearly four goals and three assists per game. Billy Oppenheimer (Germantown Academy) and Colin Joka (Plymouth Whitemarsh junior) each had one hat trick during the tourney while Tyler White (Penn Charte) and Pete Mussoline contributed to the attack.
At midfield, Gerry Smith (Episcopal Academy senior, signed with Bryant) was a force, Sankey said. “Gerry led the scoring with his size and force, and he really frustrated the opponents,” Sankey said, “He really stepped it up. It was the best tournament he has had at any level.”
Also leading the midfield attack were Keegan Lawton (Bishop Shanahan junior), Frank Magazu (Kingsway, NJ) and Tim Browne (St. Joseph’s Prep). Also contributing at midfield were Tyler Albanese (Allentown Central Catholic), Adam Wydra (Allentown Central Catholic) and Greg Cutilli (Hatboro-Horsham).
Sankey noted that Rebel Elite employed a solid zone defense, which helped to stifle most of their foes.”The long pole middies made excellent clears and we played zone,” he said,. “If we play it correctly, it’s great, and they did a great job. It was a big part of us keeping the scorers down.”
The short stick defenders included Mathew Savage (Allentown Central Catholic) and Zach Fink (Harriton sophomore) while Jack Morganthaler (Malvern Prep), Brian Topper and Zach Penfil (Garnet Valley) handled the long stick midfield role. The defense was paced by Will Thompson (Great Valley), Carl Lampe (Episcopal Academy), Tom Bracaglia (Wissahickon), Beau Gomez (Wissahickon), and Dylan O’Donnell (Penncrest).
“The defensive teams were cdominant forces in the crease,” Sankey said.
Sankey also cited the strong work at the face-off X and in the cage. Gryphyn Kelly (Plymouth Whitemarsh) won 75 percent of his face-offs and Steve Oppenheimer (Germantown Academy senior) was “superb” in goal, according to Sankey. Andrew Sabia (Roman Catholic) and Mac Lee (Episcopal Academy senior, committed to Bates) were solid in the rotation.