By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/10/11
Six Philly rising senior boys described the experience of competing in the ESPN RISE Warrior 40 event in Boston as an experience they will never forget.
“It was such a great experience… we were all treated like we were pros,” said Salesianum School (DE) defenseman Justin Verratti. “From playing with the best talent in the country during the day and then going out to eat to famous places in Boston it was just awesome.”
Verratti was joined by Haverford School midfielder Sam Rohr, Malvern Prep defenseman Eddie Morris, Abington attackman Ryan Ambler, Conestoga attackman Tyler Brooke, and Bishop Shanahan defenseman Chris Panichelli in the three-day event that featured practices run by Major League Lacrosse players, competing in a skills competition, playing in a scrimmage at Harvard Stadium, being introduced during the MLL All-Star game Saturday night and being treated to fine food and apparel giveaways.
ESPN will be broadcasting a two-hour special from the Warrior 40 tonight from 9-11 p.m on ESPNU.
Early Saturday the Warrior 40 players – all of whom were selected after four regional tryouts around the nation – played in a controlled scrimmage at Harvard. The Orange Team – featuring Brooke and Panichelli – won 13-12. The team was co-coached by MLL All-Stars as well as Ridley grads Bill McGlone (Denver Outlaws) and Brett Moyer. McGlone also plays for the Philadelphia Wings; Moyer is a former Wing.
“It was really humbling to be included in the group, but playing the actual game was great,” said Verratti. “It felt like every good play that was made was a highlight-reel type play.”
On Friday the players competed in a skills competition. Panichelli finished No. 2 in the overall standings for the obstacle course, and was first among all defensemen. Rohr was the runner-up in the trick shooting; the winner (Salmon River (N.Y.) rising junior Ky Tarbel) ran up the steps to the top of the stadium and made a shot to win it.
“The skills competition was great,” said Verratti, a rising senior who has committed to Loyola. “The creativity in the trick shots alone was impressive. Someone had the idea of shooting from in the stands.
“And in the MLL All-Star game someone tried the same thing. But it’s always nice to have your shot clocked. I haven’t had my shot clocked since 7th grade.”
Both Sam Rohr (rising senior midfielder, committed to Penn) and Brooke (rising senior attackman, committed to Maryland) were listed by ESPN RISE as “those who impressed.” Rohr also was listed in the same category by Inside Lacrosse.
Rohr, who scored one goal, also volunteered to take face-offs because the team did not have a face-off specialist. He won at least 50 percent of his draws and enjoyed a strong all-around game.
“Coach (Mark) Petrone taught me freshman year but we had Joe McCallion and Liam O’Connor so I never took them at Haverford,” he said. “But no one else wanted to take them today so I said I would try it. It was fun.”
Rohr enjoyed being introduced at the MLL All-Star Game. All 42 players were brought out during a TV time out in the second period and highlights of the game were shown.
“It was really cool; we all came out on the field and they showed highlights of the goalie (Foxborough High, Massachusetts, rising senior Greg Stamatov, headed to Villanova) scoring and said, ‘These are the some of the best players in the nation.’” Said Rohr. “The MLL stars talked to us; they were really good guys.
“It was really amazing to play in the game (Saturday morning). Tarbell threw some moves I didn’t know existed. I had never seen people throw behind-the-back passes and in-between-the-legs shots like that. It was cool to play with kids with that much talent.”
Tyler Brooke, who scored two goals in the scrimmage, also enjoyed the high level of talent
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “I was so happy to meet guys from Long Island, a kid from Georgia and other places. Hopefully, I will see them down the road in other summer events or in college.
“We were spoiled all weekend; all the gear and stuff they gave us. We got to meet really nice great coaches we got to see them play later in the MLL All-Star Game. I was honored to be chosen for this and glad it all worked.
“They had a players lounge for us near the lobby with Wii and Playstation and Xbox and a big screen TV. They had drinks and food. We all soaked it up while we had it.”
Chris Panichelli, a rising senior defenseman headed to Drexel, said the players were treated like “rock stars.”
“It was by far one of the coolest experiences of my life,” he said. “They literally treated us like rock stars.
“They gave us so much apparel, sticks and helmets. We have to donate it all to our clubs, but we get to keep the clothes. They hooked us up with food; everything was above and beyond.
“I couldn’t have expected anything even close to this. The staff at Warrior and ESPN was great and all the MLL players were so cool to interact with. We were playing in the lounge and talking to them like they were good friends.”
Panichelli was thrilled to be coached by McGlone and Moyer since they were Philly players that made it to the pros.
“McGlone and Moyer are cool guys and they are professional lacrosse players with Philly roots from Ridley,” he said. “They told us how they made it and they showed us the little technique in the game. It was cool to learn from them.”
Panichelli said playing last week in the Under Armour Underclassmen Games for Team Philly helped prepare him for the high level of talent in the event.
“That sort of got the rust off and gave me a little more confidence as a player,” he said. “The players here were really talented. We had a very strong defense.”
“It was a great event for lacrosse. It was awesome to see everyone come together to see the sport grow and prosper.”
Eddie Morris (rising senior defenseman, committed to Johns Hopkins) said watching the MLL All-Star Game as special guests was an honor.
“We watched some really good lacrosse,” he said. “We watched the game at a speed I have never seen before.
“It was really a great experience. The talent was unbelievable and our game was a really fast moving game. It was great turf and I was so happy that I was able to be a part of it.”
Morris also enjoyed connecting with the MLL players.
“I think my favorite part was interacting with all our coaches from the MLL,” he said. “It wasn’t even fair how well we got treated. It was like we had a silver spoon. I can’t complain at all.”
Ryan Ambler (rising senior, committed to admissions process at Princeton) said the gourmet food and free giveaways were only outdone by the competition and the coaches.
“Probably the No. 1 thing for me was the gourmet food,” he said. “It was hot and delicious. It was like they were trying to show us how the MLL guys live.
“We got to meet with them and talk with them. One day we’ll be able to give it all back, too.”
Ambler enjoyed getting friendly with fellow Princeton recruit Max Susskind of St. Andrew’s, Fla., who played on the opposing team (Orange).
“It was great competition and that definitely helps you elevate our game,” Ambler said. “They were making great plays, which in turn makes us play great. It was cool playing with and against some future teammates.
“Max Susskind and I were talking about bumping up our text scores. We’re still working hard in the off-season on our grades. We got to hang out and get to know each other. We got to see what it will be like the next few years.”
Ambler also said he enjoyed playing for the MLL stars.
“I loved my coaches, but I also like Brett Moyer,” he said. “He plays with my brother (Colin Ambler) on GMH and we got to talking about recruiting and playing lacrosse. I liked the connection.”