By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/26/12
I have to give a shout-out to Inside Lacrosse writer Geoff Shannon for acknowledging Philly lacrosse as a “Winner” several times this summer in the online site’s weekly Winners and Losers column.
Indeed, this summer has been a time for Philly lacrosse to shine in the national spotlight – and people are noticing all over the country.
It all started when the Philly U19 All-Star team won a never-to-forget, 15-14 overtime victory over the USA U19 team in a special exhibition in late June at Radnor High. The game was a scintillating display of lacrosse and an opportunity for Philly players to show just how talented they are after no one from Pennsylvania was named to the squad – a fact that set off an onslaught of questions about the selection process.
Then a week later Philly was more than well-represented at Under Armour. In the Senior All-American Game, Conestoga long stick midfielder Miles Thomas was positively dominant and was about to be named MVP until a late goal by his South team convinced the voters to give the award to a deserving Baltimore player. But at least one sports writer at the game agreed that Thomas was hands-down the top player there.
That game featured no less than eight players from Philly and two more from South Jersey; Conestoga’s Brad Lord also was a major force.
The next day in the Underclassmen championships, Team Philly rode the excellence of MVP Matt Rambo to claim the boys’ title with a 12-5 blitzing of New England. The impressive win capped an undefeated run and Philly’s first UA crown ever.
Several weeks later La Salle won the team title at the prestigious Brine Shootout, which is considered probably the top boys’ team tourney of the summer. It was the first time a Philly team had won the crown in eight years. Once again, Rambo led the way, along with Sean Coleman, as La Salle stamped itself as perhaps the No. 1 team in the nation heading into 2013.
Then a few days later at Champ Camp, Rambo played a key role as Philly’s Duke’s Lacrosse Club toppled GotSkillz – a collection of D1 commits from Maryland and Long Island, in an 8-7 overtime thriller for the crown. It was the sixth time in seven years the Dukes had won the major summer tourney.
Philly shined all over at Champ Camp as unheralded Twist Black made the Final Four and Dukes 2 went 6-1 and was one of the top six or seven teams there.
Most probably Rambo – who also scored the game-winner for Team Philly against the USA U19 team – will be named the top Rising Senior by inside Lacrosse in its yearly and much-awaited Young Guns rankings. Nobody has had a better summer than the La Salle senior attackman in a long time.
Although there were no Philly players on Team USA’s gold medal winning team at the FIL World Championships in Turku, Finland, it must be noted that there was a strong Philly influence for runner-up Team Canada. The coach was Taylor Wray, the recent Philly Wings captain and current St. Joseph’s head coach; his goalie was Hill School’s Brennan Donville.
Team Canada became the first to defeat USA in international competition and showed it has just about caught up with the US.
There have been many other Philly club teams that have shined this summer. One notable title was won by Rebel Elite at the Summer Sizzle. Bucks Select, Mesa Fresh, Philadelphia Freedom, NXT, Philly Fever (I apologize for forgetting anyone here) also have enjoyed standout summers in different age classes.
Philly girls had their time to shine as well. This week the news broke that Garnet Valley’s Kate Henwood was chosen from a national search to be named head coach at Division 1 UC Davis.
It was quite remarkable for a homegrown Philly girl to make the jump to D1 from high school, but her two state championships at Garnet Valley made her one of the shining young coach prospects anywhere.
So, yes, Philly lacrosse players and fans can pound their chests a little. The region continues to stake its claim as a major hotbed.