By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/12/12
Jon Torpey played pro lacrosse in Philadelphia for two different teams and has recruited heavily in Philly since taking on the job of head coach at High Point University, a new Division I men’s program that will kick off its program in 2013.
So, for him, coming to Ridley High Saturday to lead the Panthers in their first Fall Ball games ever at the 6th Annual Nick Colleluori Classic was the ideal way to get things started.
“Philly is awesome, it’s one of my favorite cities on the planet,” said Torpey, who played two seasons for the Wings and was a member of the Barrage’s MLL title team in 2004. “The people are great and it was great to see a lot of parents from the area.
“I got to see a lot of familiar faces and old friends. And it’s a great place to play when you trying to make a footprint in recruiting and a statement for your program. Of course, the event was fantastic and well run; obviously it’s an incredible cause.”
For High Point – which features six Philly freshmen – the cause was having the Panthers face top competition. High Point showed progress throughout the day. After opening the morning with a 13-7 loss to Marquette, the Panthers came back to tie Colgate, 11-11, in the afternoon game. Colgate advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
“It was a long time coming,” said Torpey, who took the job 2 years ago after serving as the top assistant at Dartmouth following a stint at Denver. “Hats off to (head coach Joe) Amplo, Marquette (another first-year program) did a great job.
“We didn’t play as consistently as possible and we were sloppy at times, but the guys played hard. In the second game against Colgate we mixed up the lineup and gave different guys an opportunity to start. We competed hard again and showed inconsistencies; that’s one of our hurdles.”
Torney had good things to say about the Philly players, a group that includes five freshmen – Vince Garman (Haverford School, defenseman), Brad James (St. Joseph’s Prep, attackman), Benny Biaocco (Garnet Valley, defenseman), Joseph Taulane (Garnet Valley, midfielder) and Ben Hughes (Great Valley, defenseman) – as well as sophomore transfer Pat Farrell (St. Joseph’s Prep, defenseman).
“James did a good job dodging against Colgate and Pat Farrell showed some athleticism and savvy off ball,” said Torpey. “He provides much needed leadership.
“Joe Taulane had a breakout performance in the midfield; he was tough on the groundballs and was a steady force.”
Torpey said his team is young and talented and also searching for its identity.
“We went the young route, but we have some really good leaders,” he said. “Our goal is to just get better every day on the field and off the field.
“Right now the competing part is there and the work ethic is there and the character is there, but with young guys in pretty significant roles we are lacking in consistency in execution in all facets of the game. The faster we address that the faster we can compete against teams with more experience.
“We got better as the day went along. In the second game we did a much better job matching up on defense and executing on offense. I was really impressed with how hard the guys played against Colgate.”
High Point concludes the fall season this weekend with an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday at Vert Stadium. The scrimmage will begin at 9 a.m.
In the spring High Point will play in an exhibition tournament in Durham, N.C. on Jan. 26. The Panthers will face Bucknell and Navy in Durham.
High Point University opens its NCAA season by hosting Delaware on Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. at Vert Stadium – the nation’s first college game. The Panthers host Towson on Feb. 8 and Air Force on Feb. 10.
“I am really proud of how hard the entire team has worked this fall,” Torpey said. “Every single player has gotten better and we are looking to end the fall on a high note with Saturday’s scrimmage.”
“But I think we’ll see 100 roster changes before the Delaware game and 100 after the Delaware game.”