By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/23/11
Three boys from the Delaware Valley region played this week in the Champion All-American Showcase, a US Lacrosse event, held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The event, known as the ESPN RISE Games, featured 96 All-Americans, mostly seniors, selected to play on four teams. The tourney included round robin play and then championship and consolation matches. Highlights of the event will be aired Sunday night at 7:00 on ESPNU.
Team Liberty, which went 2-2 and won the third-place consolation game, featured senior attackman Andrew Blundin (Salesianum School, DE/Duke’s Lacrosse Club/Lynchburg College) and senior midfielder Nikko Pontrello (St. Augustine Prep/Loyola).
Team Pride (0-4) featured senior face-off specialist Tyler Barbarich, who played for Twist Lacrosse. Barbarich, who recently was named to the U-19 team, led Bridgewater-Raritan (N.J.) to state and Tournament of Champions titles and will play at the University of Delaware.
Blundin, who helped lead Salesianum to the Delaware state title in 2011, enjoyed the tournament.
“It was a real cool experience,” he said. “I got to meet a lot of really good players and the venue couldn’t have been any better.
“They really hook you up and treat you like a real athlete. And they even sent us to Disney one night for free, which was pretty cool too.”
Blundin said the players bonded quickly during the three-day event.
“With the level of play there it was easy meshing in with the other players,” he said. “It took our team about an hour to get use to each other. Then we just went out there and played.
“It was cool, too, because we had some of the kids coming off of the team USA (U-19) tryouts and we were lucky enough to get a stud goalie, Zach Oliveri (Connetquot H.S, NY), who made team USA.”
Barbarich said his team began to play well after its first two games.
“We got crushed in the first two games and hit a lot of pipes, but we gave Team Freedom a run for their money in the next game and lost by 11-10 in the consolation game,” he said. “Overall the weekend was awesome and anyone who gets invited to this should definitely sign up.
“It’s fun to play with kids from all over the country that are going to play in college.”