By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/16/12
La Salle’s Matt Rambo and Sean Coleman and Abington’s Austin Pifani have hung out together many times before, but they all agreed that nothing compared to this.
The three Philly lacrosse standouts and close friends were the region’s representatives Monday through Wednesday at the third annual Warrior 40 run by ESPNHS at Monday through at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo.
The event featured 40 of the top rated boys’ players in the country. The players competed in a skills competition, received coaching from Major League Lacrosse stars and played in a game as the closing event. They also got to use a pile of Warrior gear.
Pifani (defenseman) played for team Dojo, which toppled Rambo (attackman) and Coleman (midfielder) and Team Burn, 16-14. But the overall experience made all feel like winners.
“It was awesome; I think we got spoiled with the way we were treated,” said Rambo, who recently capped a brilliant summer by being named the No. 1 Young Guns Rising Senior by Inside lacrosse. “They paid for everything; we got ne gear and we got to compete against the best 40 players in the nation. It was all good times, even just hanging around with these guys.”
Rambo, known for his varied offensive talents, flashed a killer shot when he drilled a 102 MPH rocket at the fastest shot competition on Tuesday. He finished second in the event to Kieran Eissler (Coronado, Colo.).
Rambo was shy about the shot, saying the Mile High air may have been the reason.
“I was shocked,” he said. “Maybe the wind took it. I haven’t had my shot clocked since 8th grade. I knew I could in the 90s, but it had to be the air.”
Rambo said the light air had nothing to do with a hard check he took from Pifani when the two matched up in the game.
“The game was fun,” Rambo said. “The Blue team (Dojo) was more intense than the Orange (us). But it was great fun. I went against (Austin) twice). He stopped me once and I beat him once, but the goalie stopped me.”
Said Pifani, smiling at the memory: “He (Rambo) beat me once and got stoned and the other time I put him on his butt!”
Pifani – ranked No. 14 in Inside Lacrosse’ Young Guns feature – said that besides getting to travel so far to play lacrosse with two of his best friends and Duke’s L.C. teammates, just being picked for the event was a hard to describe.
“First of all, it was an honor that I was asked to play,” he said. “This was my first time on a plane. It was exciting. Having Matt and Sean with me was great and playing with all those great players was an honor.”
Rambo’s performance in the event capped a summer that few could imagine. He had the game-winner for Team Philly in the memorable win over the USA U19 team in June, was MVP in leading Team Philly to its first Under Armour Underclassmen Games title, led La Salle to the Brine Shootout crown and also led the Duke’s L.C. to the title at Champ Camp. And then Inside Lacrosse named him the top rising senior.
“You can say it was a great summer for me, but it was better for Philly,” said Rambo.
Coleman, who was ranked No. 8 by Inside Lacrosse, also said the event was unforgettable.
“The whole thing was awesome,’ said Coleman. “Obviously, playing against that type of competition is amazing. It was cool that there were players from all over; we got to meet so many guys that we had played against in other summer tournaments.
“It’s great that we can figure out the personalities of the people we’ll be playing against in college.”
Coleman fired a 96 MPH shot in the fastest shot competition. “It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “The agility competition was awesome.”