By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 10/21/12
The second day of competition at the inaugural Edward Taylor Coombs Memorial Tournament featured much like the first – great weather, great lacrosse and many emotions.
For Ursinus men’s lacrosse coach Jamie Steele, the day represented the fruition of a dream he had shortly after Coombs’ death in August of 2011 in a one-car accident in Horsham Township. Steels was a driving force in helping Coombs’ father, Eric, plan the 17-team college Fall Ball tourney that raised money for the Edward T. Coombs Foundation, brain trauma research at Abington Hospital and awareness for the dangers of drinking and driving.
“I was recruiting Eddie early on in the process and I fell in love with the kid,” said Steele. “I saw the relationship he had with his dad and when I heard about his death, I was devastated.
“I have three girls and a boy of my own and I can’t feel how Mr. Coombs feels, but I can sense it in him. He and I talked after the funeral – I waited 2 hours and I couldn’t get in – and he said he wanted to do this tournament.
“I said, ‘Whatever you need from, I will do.’ I hope that this day gives him a little bit of peace even though I know he will never get true peace. I know how important Eddie was to me and I only met him once or twice. This was a great venue and I think it will be a great tournament.”
The tourney – played on three fields – featured nine Division I and II men’s and women’s teams Saturday and eight more men’s Division III teams Sunday. It drew thousands of lacrosse fans and supporters to the cause.
“I played one game against him in a summer league going into my freshman year here,” said Ursinus junior midfielder Nile Thompson (Lower Merion). “He was a good player and a ferocious competitor.
“I think it’s an honor to play for ne event like this, especially in his honor. He must have been a heck of a person for all these teams and fans to come out and support his family and support his cause.
“This should benefit us down the line to play for something other than ourselves.”
Two other Philly teams that met in the first round of the NCAA tourney last year, Cabrini and Eastern, also competed Sunday.
Cabrini whipped Scranton and also toppled St. Mary’s College of Maryland today. The Cavs are coming off a 17-3 season that saw them reach the NCAA quarterfinals. This year they have their sights set on making it to Lincoln Financial Field for the NCAA championship game.
“Absolutely,” said senior attackman Bobby Thorp, a Cherokee (N.J.) grad who led the team in scoring last year with 52 goals and 37 assists. “We hope to end up in Philly and get our great fans out there; that would be a dream come true.
“We just have to continue to work hard in the off-season and during the season. We are a tight-knit group and as long as everyone stays together, we think we can do anything.”
Thorp said the message from the weekend tourney was to make wise decisions.
“The tournament was incredible; anytime you can play for a charity event like it’s great,” he said. “Hopefully what we learned today is you have to be smart with your decision-making. It’s not all about lacrosse; you need to make the right decision or it all could be over.”
Eastern, which fell to Cabrini in its first NCAA appearance last year, also has high hopes for the 2013 season.
“We lost a couple starters, but for the most part we have the same lineup and we are expecting to do big things this year,” said senior face-off specialist A.J. Ryan (Phoenixville), who was among the nation’s leaders at the X (59 percent, 208 wins) and groundballs (126) in 2012.
“Today we came to work on things we need to work on.
“We look back and we know we did some great things (last year). We had never won the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference) championship before. But that’s in the past and we’ve got to keep working hard to try to get past the MAC and progress in the NCAA tournament.”