By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/24/11
The Tri-State Black (N.J.) team that stunned the boys’ lacrosse club world today by defeating the Duke’s Lacrosse Club, 9-6, in the Champ Camp title game today at Johns Hopkins had a strong Philly flavor.
One of the leading scorers during the tourney for Tri-State Black was Steffen Gratch, a Doylestown native who formerly played club for Twist Lacrosse. Gratch, a rising senior who plays at the Hun School (N.J.) and is headed to Princeton, was a standout in the title game at attack with two goals.
Another key to Tri-State’s victory was rising senior goalie Duncan Saunders of The Hill School. Saunders, committed to North Carolina, made four saves in the second half as part of Tri-State’s two-headed monster in the goal, along with Lawrenceville School’s Matt O’Connor (committed to Princeton).
Tri-State coached by former Delaware and Philadelphia Wings great MV Whitlow, also featured attackmen Tim Mulrenan (Seton Hall Prep, committed to Villanova) and Jack Curran (Rumson Fair, Villanova), midfielders Mark Leonhard (Lawrenceville School, Penn), Alex Martinelli (Moorestown, Delaware), Parrish Young (Gunnery School, CT, Delaware), and Stephen Pontello (St. Augustine Prep, North Carolina) and defenseman James Lawrence (Lawrenceville School, Brown). The roster featured all rising seniors.
Curran had a key goal to make it 3-3 in the second period.
Gratch said Tri-State, which went 9-0 in the tourney and also defeated Dukes 2, 9-6, in the semis, was aware of the aura of Dukes 1 – which took a 52-game win streak into the finals today.
“It’s unbelievable how the Dukes had controlled Champ Camp the past six years,” he said. “They had all the pressure on them to win again.
“We were kind of an underdog. We just really wanted to get out there and give it everything we had and leave it out on the field.”
Tri-State took a 5-4 lead at halftime and never allowed Dukes 1 to tie it.
Gratch said Tri-State realized the tourney was wide open when highly-touted GotSkillz was upset by Long Island 1 in the quarterfinals. Dukes 1 downed Long Island 1, 10-4, in the semis.
“We played right after GotSkillz got beat and we figured if Long Island could come back and beat that team that everyone was talking about, we could do it too,” he said. “Coach Whitlow stressed thinking out on the field and not forcing anything, taking our time and working it around and making the most out of our opportunities
“This gives a new legacy for our younger Tri-State players to follow. They can come up and see our name on the plaque.
“Hopefully they will rise to the occasion like we did.”
Gratch said beating Dukes 2 in the semis also was a battle.
“They were a good team as well,” he said. “They were good at the face-off circle and got a log of groundballs. They gave a good game, but we pulled through.”