By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/27/11
Dukes’ Lacrosse Club Ebe Helm had nothing but praise for the team – Tri-State Black – that ended his squad’s five-year hold on the throne at Champ Camp Sunday at Johns Hopkins University.
Helm also said the Duke’s L.C. had nothing to be ashamed of after placing second and reaching the finals for the eighth straight year in one of the summer’s top recruiting boys’ club tournaments.
Tri-State, featuring a number of Philly players and rising seniors headed to Philly colleges, defeated Dukes 1, 9-6, in the title game. The win snapped a remarkable 53-game win streak (formerly reported as 52) and gave Tri-State its first Champ Camp title since 2000.
Both Tri-State and Duke’s L.C. have won the most Champ Camp crowns (five) overall.
In Sunday’s title game, Tri-State fell behind, 3-1, and then scored four straight goals to take a 5-3 lead. The Dukes cut the deficit to one twice, but Tri-State tallied three consecutive goals in the second half after goalie Duncan Saunders (Hill School/committed to North Carolina) made a key save (he had four overall) and the game was never close again.
Tri-State got two goals from Doylestown’s Steffen Gratch (Hun School, NJ/Princeton) and one apiece from attackmen Tim Mulrenan (Seton Hall Prep/Villanova) and Jack Curran (Rumson Fair/Villanova) and midfielders Mark Leonhard (Lawrenceville School/Penn) and Stephen Pontrello (St. Augustine Prep, North Carolina).
Tri-State coached by former Delaware and Philadelphia Wings great MV Whitlow, also featured attackmen Alex Martinelli (Moorestown/Delaware), Calvin Hopkins (Pennsbury), Parrish Young (Gunnery School, CT/Delaware), and defenseman James Lawrence (Lawrenceville School/Brown).
Tri-State also knocked off Dukes 2, 9-6, in the semis.
For Dukes 1, Matt Rambo (La Salle rising junior) and Ian Strain (Episcopal Academy rising junior) had two goals apiece while Sean Coleman (La Salle rising junior) and Ian Robertson (St. Anne’s Belfield, VA/Delaware) each scored once.
Helm said he had much respect for the Tri-State program its founder, Bob Turco, its directors, Joe and Ross Turco, and its coaches, Whitlow and Bob Green.
“We’re probably (friendlier) with that program than any other program,” said Helm. “They even have a Dukes guy (La Salle alum and Notre Dame rising sophomore) Westy Hopkins helping out (as a coach).
“They’re a wonderful club and if anyone was going to beat us I am glad it was them. Their players were gracious with their comments after the game. They do it the right way.
“I was a little torn, but very happy for them to win. We crushed them at the Tri-State tourney, 10-2, in the semifinals, but they didn’t have everybody there.”
Rambo, rising senior Ryan Ambler (Abington/Princeton) and Robertson led the attack throughout the tourney for Dukes 1 (8-1 overall). Coleman, rising junior Mike Sutton (St. Augustine/Penn State) and Dan Kinek (Emmaus/PG at Avon Old Farms) paced the midfield and rising senior Jon Garino (Episcopal Academy) and rising junior Mark Gurenlian (Springfield-Delco) were strong at the face-off X all week.
Defensively, Dukes 1 got key performances from rising seniors Chris Panichelli (Bishop Shanahan/Drexel), Ryan Guittare (Garnet Valley/Penn State) and Eddie Morris (Malvern Prep/Johns Hopkins) and rising junior Austin Pifani (Abington). Rising senior goalies Jackson Tamasitis (Penn Charter) and Tyler Morrell (Episcopal Academy) were strong in the cage.
Helm said the Dukes – who relied heavily on rising juniors – were unable to defend some of the bigger Tri-State offensive players.
“They had some big strong athletes that delivered at the critical points of the game,” Helm said. “We were not able to handle their size and power.”
Helm said it was easier now to appreciate the Dukes’ five-year run on the title.
“Somehow maybe that five-year run will be a little more important,” said Helm. “We’ve been to the Final Four at Champ Camp 10 straight years and to the finals eight years in a row. It speaks to the consistency of the program.
“We know we’re not invincible. Maybe that makes what we did a little more special. People can now reflect on what we’ve been doing and how we’ve been doing it. It (winning Champ Camp) is not automatic.”