This is one of a series of article counting down the Top 20 Stories of Philly lacrosse for 2010
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/8/11
The Duke’s Lacrosse Club had to play a familiar foe when it geared for its shot at a fifth straight title in the championship game last summer at the 21st Champ Camp tournament at Johns Hopkins – Duke’s 2.
In an unprecedented result, Joey Sankey (Penn Charter/now signed with North Carolina) scored five goals and Duke’s L.C. (9-0) toppled Duke’s 2, 10-3, to retain its hold on the unofficial title of top boys’ club team in the country. The 1-2 finish gave the Duke’s L.C. the No. 11 Story of the Year in Philly lacrosse as named by Phillylacrosse.com.
Sixty-nine teams entered the tournament; one, GotSkillz, was engineered with the intent of dethroning the Duke’s. But that squad, with at least 14 major Division I recruits from Long Island, Baltimore and other top regions, fell to Duke’s L.C., 8-7, in the quarterfinals.
Duke’s then defeated Team Turnpike SB, 6-4, in the semifinals to earn the spot alongside Duke’s 2. Duke’s 2 advanced to the finals with a 7-1 victory over Baltimore’s Belax, 7-1, and a key 8-6 triumph over New England power NESLL 1 in the semis.
In the title game, Duke’s 2 scored first and the game was tied, 2-2, early on before Duke’s 1 outscored its friendly foe, 8-1 the rest of the way.
Other Philly teams also fared well in the tourney. Both Mesa Fresh 2011 and Twist Black finished among the top 12 teams and went 6-2 overall. HEADstrong Elite was 5-3 and made it to the championship playoffs. Twist Silver went 5-3 and HEADstrong Young Guns finished 3-5 while Springfield-Delco was 3-5.
In the semifinals, GotSkillz was leading the Duke’s, 7-6, entering the fourth period of a game that no team led by more than two goals. Thanks to brilliant goaltending by Duke’s rising senior Hank Altschuler (Lower Merion-Hill Academy/Hofstra), the Duke’s stayed alive and then tied it on a goal by rising senior attackman Carl Walrath (Haverford School/Virginia). In all, Walrath had three goals.
Later in the final period, freshman midfielder Matt Rambo (Abington) put the Duke’s ahead for good while a defense anchored by rising senior Ryan Kilpatrick (Salesianum School/North Carolina) clamped down in front of Altschuler.
Also scoring for the Duke’s in that game were Sankey (two goals), rising senior attack Kevin Forster (La Salle/Maryland), rising senior Shane Morrell (Episcopal Academy/Bryant) and rising senior Brendan McGrath (Haverford School/Princeton). Rambo and Sankey added key assists.
In the semifinals, Duke’s LC toppled Team Turnpike SB (N.J.), 6-4, as rising senior goalies Conor Kelly (Haverford School/Notre Dame) and Dustin Keen (Downingtown West) played strong games; and Duke’s 2 downed NESLL1 (New England), 8-6.
Duke’s L.C. program head coach Ebe Helm said the championship was the result of strong teamwork from players to coaches and parents.
Throughout the tourney, the Duke’s received strong goaltending, led by Altschuler, Kelly and Keen. “Altschuler was phenomenal,” said Helm.
On defense, Kilpatrick was a force with his play on the field and as a leader. Helm said he refused to let the Duke’s players get intimidated when GotSkillz began to clutch and grab Duke’s attackmen in the quarterfinal win.
The rest of the defense – rising seniors Goran Murray (Haverford School/Maryland/LSM), Jesse Horn (Great Valley/LSM), Rich O’Neill (Unionville/Penn State/LSM), John Sax (St. Joseph’s Prep), Tim Kulp (West Chester East), Mark DiFrangia (La Salle/St. John’s), Kevin Barrow (Avon Grove), Alex Warden (Garnet Valley/Air Force) and Benn Karr (Conestoga/Ohio State). – helped the Duke’s yield just 22 goals in the tourney.
At the face-off X, rising senior Drew Kennedy (Malvern Prep/Johns Hopkins) was dominant. “If there is a better face-off man in the country, I want to know who he is,” said Helm.
Rising senior Joe McCallion (Haverford School/Penn) also excelled at the X. Helm said that the defensive middies – McCallion and rising seniors, Jeff Heath (St. Joseph’s Prep/Delaware/6 goals), Billy Flatley (Conestoga/Georgetown), and Corbin Booker (Chestnut Hill Academy/Brown) and rising junior Grayson Helm (Wyomissing) – also were superb.
The offensive middies included McGrath, rising seniors Jack Bogorowski (La Salle/Johns Hopkins) and Tanner Scott (Conestoga/Duke) on the first line, rising seniors Andrew Blundin (Salesianum), Eric Gartner (Great Valley/Villanova) and senior Bobby Gildea (Springfield-Delco/Essex CC) on the second line, and rising sophomores Rambo and Sean Coleman (La Salle) and Chas Robino (Tower Hill Academy/UMass) on the third line.
Attackmen included Sankey, Forster and Walrath on the top line and rising seniors Morrell and Mike Dougherty (Malvern Prep/St. Joseph’s Univ.) and rising junior Ryan Ambler (Abington/Princeton).
Duke’s 1 coaches included Helm (overall administrator), Mike Dolente (face-offs), Mike Mackrides (head coach, box, offense), Ron Forster (offense), Jason Christmas (defense) and Eric Gregg (goalies).
The Duke’s 2 club team may have been considered an underdog to many when it entered play last week in the 21st Champ Camp Tournament at Johns Hopkins, but the team itself expected to challenge for the title.
That’s why Duke’s 2 co-coach Marty Kupprion was not surprised when Duke’s 2 – despite fielding many rising sophomores and juniors – advanced to the finals of the summer’s top boys’ club tourney and faced four-time defending champion Duke’s 1.
Despite falling, 10-3, in the finals to its brother team, Duke’s 2 finished 8-1 and has established itself as one of the top club teams in the nation. Several weeks ago Duke’s 2 also reached the semifinals of the prestigious Tri-State (N.J.) tourney where it fell to Duke’s 1 in a tight one-goal game.
To reach the finals, Duke’s 2 defeated Maryland’s Belax, 7-1, in the quarterfinals and NESLL 1 (New England), 8-6, in the semifinals. Belax had eliminated Duke’s 2 from the championship round last year.
Against Belax, rising senior Billy Donovan (Unionville) scored two goals while rising sophomore Brandyn O’Connell (Downingtown East), rising senior Dan Kinek (Emmaus), rising senior Kurtis Kaunas (Parkland/Lehigh), rising junior Parker Self (Central Bucks East) and rising senior Andrew Caldwell (Penncrest/Salisbury) each scored once. Donovan, Kinek, rising junior Jeremy Omrod (Holy Ghost Prep/Drexel), rising junior Henry Blynn (Haverford School) and rising sophomore Nick Valentino (Hempfield) each had assists.
In the win over NESLL, Donovan – who led the team with 14 goals – again scored twice while rising senior Richard Kaiser (Unionville) scored twice and Caldwell, Kaunas and O’Connell and rising sophomore Matt King (Avon Grove) scored goals. King’s came from his spot at long pole on a length-of-the-field dash. Assists came from rising sophomore long pole Adam Weaver (Henderson) on a full-length fast break as well as King on another fast break, and Self.
In the loss to Duke’s 1, rising senior midfielder Blair Bonner (West Chester East/St. John’s), rising junior face-off specialist Jon Garino (Episcopal Academy) and Omrod scored once each. Kiney had an assist.
“We made the finals at Tri-State two weeks ago and lost to Duke’s 1 by one goal,” said Kupprion, who coached with Joe Vetrone (head coach, goalies), Dan Deckelbaum (box),
Chris Fallon (defense) and Mike Dolente (face-offs). “We had clear expectations and that was not to do well, but to make the finals, and we were pretty sure we’d be there against Duke’s 1.
“The success at that previous tournament set the table. We played with the best club team (Duke’s 1) in the country and we knew it was a legitimate goal. We kept (winning) and stayed focused and business-like.
“You don’t expect so many rising sophomores and young guys to stay so business-like, but it was great to set high expectations and to reach them by knocking down obstacles in their way.”
Kupprion said the win over Belax was a major triumph. “They knocked us out last year in a controversial game and a handful of guys are back and remembered that,” he said. “We took that game personally and wanted to make a statement.
“Then we played NESLL at 8:30 under the lights at Homewood Field in the semifinals. That was like our championship game.”
Kupprion said the entire Duke’s 2 roster contributed greatly to the second-place finish, led by the goalies. Rising sophomore Matt Barrett (Malvern Prep) established himself as a major prospect with his play while rising senior Victor Garcia (La Salle) and rising junior Tyler Morrell (Episcopal Academy) also excelled.
On defense and long pole, rising junior Chris Panichelli (Henderson/Drexel) was the anchor while King, Weaver, rising juniors Ryan Guittare (Garnet Valley/Penn State), Mike Paoline (Downingtown West), Eddie Morris (Malvern Prep/Johns Hopkins), Casey Eidenshink (La Salle) and Connor McCann (Episcopal Academy) and rising sophomore Austin Pifani (Abington) also were standouts.
The defense also received a boost from rising junior d-middies Bryan Garrahan (Archmere Academy, DE), Jared Jacobs (Conestoga) and Kevin Galyas (Allentown Central Catholic) and rising senior d-middie Troy Moyer (Boyertown).
The offensive midfield lines featured Caldwell (nine goals), Bonner, Omrod, Kinek, Valentino, rising senior Keith Dreyer (Malvern Prep/Air Force), rising juniors Chase Miller (Manheim Township/Jacksonville) and Gregory Shildkrout (Germantown Academy) and rising sophomores Michael Sutton (St. Augustine Prep, NJ). They played key roles on offense.
Kupprion noted that face-off men Garino and rising junior Brad Perz (Bishop Shanahan) emerged during the tournament as major contributors. Garino also scored five goals.
Donovan, Kaiser (seven goals), O’Connell (five goals), Kaunas, Self, Glynn and rising freshman Conor Glancy (Malvern Prep) led a balanced attack.
“I was proud over the way that our team shared the ball and that everybody got in on the action,” Kupprion said. “In our three games on Friday, we had nine goal scorers three games in a row – which was hard to believe.
“It was fun to watch, and definitely helped as come together as a team as we moved towards the tougher match ups. Seventeen different players scored, and 16 different players contributed assists over the tournament.”
Duke’s LC head coach Ebe Helm said the program has excelled at Champ Camp for several reasons.
“We have a consistent approach to everything we do,” he said. “We have beverage coordinators, a transportation coordinator, and a social coordinator. With that type of consistency the players know they can go out and just play lacrosse.
“We have a strict curfew at night and if anyone breaks it they know they get thrown out. The second thing is the coaches. We have a head coach on each team, someone that does the box, face-offs, and each area of the games. The players are proud to be Duke’s players and they want to be held accountable.”
Helm is also proud of his program’s success in helping players go to college and to play college lacrosse. Last year’s senior class had 32 players – and each is attending college and playing lacrosse. Also, the seniors enter into a mentoring program with a middle school-aged player who shows both talent and the potential to excel as a college student-athlete.
“They want to honor not only themselves and their communities, but also their schools,” he said of the players. “They know that our mission statement is to be a better person than a player. If they are an All-American player, they better be an All-American person.
“The whole focus is to bring college money to PA guys to use lacrosse as a vehicle for higher education.”
Duke’s LC 10, Duke’s 2 3
Summary (3 12-minute periods were played due to heat)
Duke’s LC 2-4-4 – 10
Duke’s 2 2-0-1 – 3
Duke’s LC – Joey Sankey (Penn Charter) 5 goals, Andrew Blundin (Salesianum School) 1 goal, Billy Flatley (Conestoga) 1 goal, Shane Morrell (Episcopal Academy) 1 goal, Sean Coleman (La Salle) 1 goal, Jack Bogorowski (La Salle) 1 goal, Joe McCallion (Haverford School) 1 goal.
Duke’s 2 – Blair Bonner (WC East) 1 goal, Jon Garino (Episcopal Academy) 1 goal, Jeremy Omrod (Holy Ghost Prep) 1 goal.