Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/1/12
La Salle rising senior attackman Matt Rambo scored four goals and earned the tourney MVP Award to lead Team Philly to a 12-5 victory today New England in the championship game of the Under Armour Underclassmen boys’ tournament at Towson University.
Philly, which won its first Underclassmen title ever, went 6-0 in the three-day tourney and picked up steam as it went.
“That was the best game we played,” Rambo said. “I think we were a little shaky in the first (Friday) game – we only had one practice. But as (the tourney) went on we really meshed.”
Philly took a 3-0 lead in the championship game and held a 6-3 halftime advantage. New England never got close.
Downingtown East rising senior attackman Brandyn O’Connell added three goals in the finale and finished the playoffs with an amazing nine goals. He had six in the 10-7 semifinal win over Washington D.C.
Haverford School rising senior attackman Reilly Hupfeldt and Radnor rising senior midfielder Peter Donato each had two goals in the title game. Rising senior defenseman Austin Pifani (Abington) scored once.
All-tourney pick Matt Barrett (Malvern Prep) and Robbie Zonino (Conestoga) again shared the goaltending duties for Philly. Both were steady if not outstanding the entire tourney. Meanwhile, face-off specialist Zach Penfil (Garnet Valley) was dominant at the X for Team Philly. he was forced to take all the draws after Mark Gurenlian (Springfield-Delco), who also wa sa key, injured a finger and had to miss the playoffs.
“Our goalies were great,” said Philly coach Brian Samson (Conestoga). “Matt was exceptional in the championship game and was all-tourney and Robbie also deserved to be an all-tourney pick. And then Zach was just excellent facing off; I think he only lost four in the final game.”
Philly also gained a 7-5 win early in the day over Long Island.
“Throughout the day we picked it up and started making crisp passes,” said O’Connell. “We were cutting off ball and working as a team – not as individuals. Everyone gave a 100 percent. It was a great group of guys that played their hearts out.
“The defense played amazing and Matt (Barrett) and Robbie (Zonino) were great. From Friday to today we really progressed and moved the ball well. No one person put the team on their back; everyone played their role to give us the championship.
“I think it’s excellent that we won this. Everyone on the team comes from a 30-mile radius and we lal grew up together, either playing with each other or against each other.”
For Rambo, the weekend capped an amazing 8-day stretch that also sa whim score the game-winner in last weekend’s Philly victory over the USA U19 team.
“I think Philly is a hotbed,” Rambo said. “We beat the USA team; people don’t respect us as much as they should so we always play with a chip on our shoulder.
“We had never made the playoffs (at Under Armour). No one picked us to win.”
Samson praised the players and his staff, comprised of assistants Tom Lemieux (Springfield-Delco) and Pat McDonogh (Penn Charter) and jack-of-all-trades Mike Friel (Radnor athletic director, former Springfield-Delco coach).
“The kids handled themselves so well, especially in 100 degree temperatures,” Samson said. “It was special coaching them.
“Tom Lemieux handled the defense and Pat McDonogh took the offense. Mike Friel helped run the tryouts and the practice and did all the behind-the-scenes work. They deserve so much credit.”
In the semifinals, Paul Major (Spring-Ford) added a goal (the game-winner) and an assist while Donato, Rambo, Sean Coleman (La Salle) and Chris Hilburn (Malvern Prep) each added goals. Kevin Leyden (Haverford High) added an assist.
Also, New Jersey’s Mike Sutton (St. Augustine Prep), who plays for the Duke’s L.C., earned all-tourney honors.