By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/13/11
The inaugural Big 4 Invitational ended with a buzzer-beater and a thrilling Braveheart winner by the goaltender.
Before several dozen college coaches, nearly 140 prospects from the Philadelphia region competed in an event that gave plenty of exposure to players in all four classes.
White goalie Frankie McCarthy (Ridley) scored the game-winner after Blue team junior face-off specialist Anthony Labetti (Moorestown, NJ) tied it with his second goal as time ran out in regulation.
Only a few of the players have committed to play college lacrosse. The tourney was run by Big 4 directors Billy McKinney and Eric Gregg.
Labetti, who plays for the Duke’s Lacrosse Club, helped his Moorestown team win a New Jersey Group III state title. He was one of the few South Jersey players to make the trip to Shipley School, and was pleased with the level of play
“I’m part of the Dukie’s (Lacrosse Club) program and figured this would be a good way to showcase my talent,” he said. “In my first game I won 11 of 11 face-offs and them I scored two goals in the All-Star game.”
One of two freshmen to make the All-Star game, Charles Kelly (Malvern Prep) and Labetti took the face-offs vs. Duke’s LC teammate Mark Gurenlian, another junior who plays at Springfield-Delco. Kelly (won 7 of 10) took the Braveheart draw, but Gurenlian played strong defense to help set up McCarthy for the game-winner.
For the Blue team, St. Joseph’s Prep junior attackman Joe Walsh had a goal and two assists.
Labetti said he hopes to catch the eyes of Division I coaches, but also is gearing for another run at a state title.
“Won won the state championship because we were a family,” he said.
Gurenlian said he began to play better as the day progressed.
“I kind of struggled in the first game and by the second game I got the hang of it,” he said. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted in the last game, but at least I shut him (Kelly) down from scoring.”
Gurenlian has played in several recruiting tournaments and plans to compete in the Philly Showcase next week.
“I prefer to play at the Division I, but I won;t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen,” he said. “I just need to do what the coaches tell me to do – work harder and work harder and keep practicing.
“I’m getting a lot more comfortable as I get to know some of the college coaches more. Now if I have a bad showing in one game, I know they’ve seen me in other games so I won’t worry about them judging me on one game.”
St. Joseph’s Prep junior goalie AJ Simon, who made five saves while sharing goaltending duties with McCarthy on the White All-Star team, also enjoyed the exposure.
“For the first year I felt the tournament went well,” he said “The competition was great – Philly talent is excellent. I saw some (good shots).”
Did he think about the coaches?
“I have been playing in front of these coaches so I am pretty much used to it,” he said. “I just played my game and tired to do what I do. Overall, I was happy but there is room for improvement.”
Big 4 Showcase Tournament
White 6, Blue 5 (Braveheart)
White scoring: Tyler Keen (Downingtown West) 1 goal, Kerry Kynett (Haverford School) 1 goal, Conor Glancy (Malvern Prep) 1 goal, Joe Walsh (St. Joseph’s Prep) 1 goal, Kyle Smith (Avon Grove) 1 goal, Frankie McCarthy (Ridley) 1 goal. Goalies: Frankie McCarthy (Ridley), AJ Simon (St. Joseph’s Prep).
Blue scoring: Anthony Labetti (Moorestown, NJ) 2 goals, Chase Young (St. Joseph’s Prep) 1 goal, Matt Heim (Central Bucks East) 1 goal, Patrick Swanick (St. Joseph’s Prep).