By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/8/11
Perhaps no one was more impressed with the caliber of play Saturday at the Philly Girls Showcase at Westtown School than four players from Academy Park.
Junior goalie Megan Barlow, sophomore midfielder Gabby Lee, senior attack Kelliann Gallagher and sophomore attack Memuna Sillah have never played varsity lacrosse, but they found themselves competing with some of the top players in the Philadelphia region and beyond.
The Academy Park girls will be members of the school’s first varsity team since 1993 next spring. For the past two years, under coach Susan Reutter, the Knights restarted their program in 2010 and have played at the JV level the past two years.
Barlow, Lee, Gallagher and Sillah were granted scholarships to compete at the Philly Showcase through the (Pennsylvania Area Schoolgirls Lacrosse Association). The event featured 190 girls and drew 36 college coaches.
“I came out for the experience and to learn new things,” said Barlow, who has been playing for two years. “I knew it would be a challenge playing with girls that have experience and that know how to shoot high. Now I have a base; something I can use to judge what high school lacrosse is.”
Lee, who started playing in the last year, also enjoyed getting a taste of the sport with top competition
“I started last year because I was just trying something new,” she said. “I just came today for the experience; I learned a lot. The girls were really fast. I had to try my best and speed up. I think this helped me with cradling and switching hands.”
Reutter, also the Academy Park field hockey coach, played lacrosse at Strath Haven and was pleased when a large group of girls approached her about starting the program back up.
“It disbanded after 1993 (winless season), but the girls came to me,” said Reutter. “It was Kelliann’s older sister, who had the list of 35 girls that said they wanted to play lacrosse.
“I loved playing the sport in high school at Strath Haven. They seemed to love it without even knowing what it was. I wish I could have brought the rest of the team here today.
“It would have beneficial for them to just watch. They are seeing what I have talked about: organizing, positioning and cutting in full game speed by some of the better players in the area. Just being on the field and taking in the experience sure can’t hurt them.”