By Chris Goldberg
With contributions from Ty Xanders, of Inside Lacrosse
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/3/11
For five Haverford School teammates, and nine Philly boys overall, it was the perfect ending.
The huge Philly contingent combined for six goals, 13 groundballs and nine saves, as the South rallied from a 7-3 deficit and claimed an 11-9 victory over the North Saturday night in the Under Armour All-American Game at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium.
Goalie Conor Kelly (Haverford School) kept his team alive with those nine first-half stops and the South broke loose with a 7-0 run that culminated on late third-period goals by Fords teammate Goran Murray (1:04 left) and Penn Charter’s Joey Sankey (0:46).
Murray scored twice from his spot at long stick midfield while Haverford School teammates Matt Walters and Carl Walrath as well as La Salle’s Kevin Forster also scored for the South. Murray, Walrath, Sankey and Forster each had two groundballs while Kelly, Walrath, defensemen Brian Dailey (Conestoga) and Ryan Kilpatrick (Salesianum School, DE), and Brendan McGrath (Haverford School) each had one groundball.
Kilpatrick also had a caused turnover, as the South won for only the second time in the six-year history of the event. Goalie Bobby Wardwell (Shenendehowa, N.Y.), who made 13 saves in the second half for the South, was the Game MVP.
With help from Inside Lacrosse contributing writer Ty Xanders, Phillylacrosse.com spoke to each of the nine Philly players following the game. The Haverford School players agreed it was a fitting close to a season that them finish 23-0 and earn the unanimous distinction of national champions.
“It was awesome just getting a ‘W’ with my best friends,” said Murray, headed to Maryland. “They were the ones who convinced me to play lacrosse along with (assistant) coach (Mark) Petrone in 9th grade; I picked up a long pole and never looked back.
“We’ve just been a family. It was just a great game to play with them.”
Murray, whose team is the only one other than Gilman School (Md.) in 2009 to field five All-Americans, said the South began to mesh as the game progressed.
“It was a great experience to win,” he said. “The North has been dominant, but we went in at halftime and we knew we had to come together. We (Haverford School) came out strong in every game this year in the third quarter. We knew the game depended on that, and we dominated in the third.
“After the game, Conor looked at me and said, ‘We are 24-0.’ It was awesome playing with my friends and teammates. We’ve known each other since lower school and middle school. We wanted to go out winning; it was an amazing weekend.”
The South struggled to gain possessions early in the game, but soon began to capitalize on its opportunities.
“We started out slowly, maybe it was nerves,” said Kelly, headed to Notre Dame. “But we buckled down and really picked it up.
“It was our last time playing with the Haverford kids, and the Philly kids. I knew a lot of the Baltimore kids, so it was a ton of fun.”
“It was awesome,” added McGrath (Princeton). “It was great getting the last chance to play with the Philly kids. There were nine of us, and all the guys from the South were great. Everyone got along and everybody got the chance to know each other.
“I think what happened in the first quarter is that people are anxious. We were not getting possessions. Once we settled down and got into a set offense, we picked it up.”
Walrath, headed to national champion Virginia, expects to see many of these players again.
“Knowing all these guys from other all-star events, it was a great time playing with these guys one last time,” Walrath said. “Knowing these are future college opponents or teammates, it gives you a taste of what’s ahead.
“We had nine guys down here, we got to know these kids so well on and off the field. Mixing in the Baltimore kids, it was just a lot of fun.”
Added Walters: “I’m really gonna miss playing with these [Haverford] guys. It’s been an awesome time.”
Sankey (North Carolina) said the South players met up early Friday and got to practice twice.
“It was a great weekend,” he said. “It was great because last year I got to know a lot of the kids from the (ESPN RISE) Warrior 40 (at Harvard). We all get along so well and there is so much talent.
“It (the game) was definitely different. Everyone is trying to get their take; it was run and gun style and it took a little getting used to.
“It was like a dream come true. I always wanted to try and make this game and it met all my expectations.”
Added Dailey (Duke): “It was definitely a blast. It is so much fun to play at this level. We’ll be playing against or with each other for the next couple years.”
Kilpatrick (North Carolina) said the level of play forced him to raise his level of intencity.
“It was awesome to play with and against such great talent,” he said. “You really have to stay on top of your game all four quarters against that kind of talent. we really played well as a team in the second half and it helped us get the comeback win.”
Forster (Maryland) admitted it is hard to move on.
“It’s been fun playing with them,” Forster said. “I’ve played with them pretty much every summer since high school started. This being the last time kind of [stinks], but it was a cool way to end it.”