Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/1/13
The five most stories on Phillylacrosse.com in 2012 were:
Little Flower girls’ lacrosse coach Abigail “Abby” O’Beirne, died in a one-car accident on Route 309 in Hilltown Township, Bucks County on a late October day. O’Beirne, 27, and a graduate of Mount St. Joseph, was a very popular coach for 2 years who also taught students with special needs in Philadelphia at Holy Innocents School. O’Beirne was due to be married in January.
Little Flower senior Courtney Burke said O’Beirne was a great leader, role model and teacher.
“Little Flower hasn’t had a strong lacrosse program, but as soon as Abby came she really helped improve everyone’s skills,” said Burke. “We really showed improvement. Even coaches from other teams would say so. We were finally working together as a team; she brought us together.
“She really took us back to basics and paid special attention to everyone. She would pinpoint our weaknesses and try to improve each player individually. She was always positive and she told us, no matter what our record was, to keep our heads up and give 110 percent.
“She was a person who always had a smile on her face; she never let us put our heads down. She would joke around with us. She was so personable and fun and she made the smallest drills just so fun. We were always laughing. She just made the season so memorable.”
Team Philly won a game that many will say was one of the more memorable contests in recent Philadelphia lacrosse history, toppling the United States U19 national team, 15-14, in a special exhibition that was played to help prepare the USA for the World Championships. team USA would go on to defend its national crown by avenging a pool play loss to Canada – so perhaps its experience in playing Team Philly made a difference.
The game, played before a large crowd at Radnor High in the heat of the summer, went back-and-forth and featured enough highlight plays and clutch performances to make any lax fan fulfilled.
Much hype was made even before the game because no Southeastern PA players were named to the US squad. Many of the players who had tried out for the team were on Team Philly, as well as several others who had missed the age cutoff by a short period of time.
Team Philly took a 7-3 halftime lead, but USA stormed back to draw within 7-6. Team Philly surged again and held a 10-7 edge after three quarters, but USA again came back and sent it into two mandatory overtime periods with 2 minutes to play on a goal by St. Augustine Prep grad Steve Pontrello.
USA took control in the first overtime and led 13-11 late in the stanza, but Team Philly’s Joey Sankey (Penn Charter) made it 13-12 and Carl Walrath tied it with 3 seconds left in the first OT after a long pass from former Haverford School teammate Goran Murray.
In the final overtime, USA again took the lead but Germantown Academy grad Beau Jones tied it with 41 seconds to play and La Salle rising senior Matt Rambo won it with 14.3 seconds left.
Lauren Paul, who had won a National championship at Franklin & Marshall only a few years earlier and was guiding a team about to challenge for another national title, was fired after charges of hazing among team players that occurred more a year before were lodged. Paul claimed she had no knowledge of the incident, but school administrators removed Paul after “a very thorough investigation of violations of the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct was complete.”
Paul and her assistants were placed on leave of absence and 11 players were suspended on April 17 while the investigation was ongoing. The team went 1-1 after that and then it was decided that the F&M season would be discontinued.
Paul was later hired as an assistant at Division I High Point.
Ament, a Haverford School rising sophomore, became the second Philly player and one of the first in the nation to commit to a Division I college in the Class of 2015. He will follow many of his family members who have attended Penn State, including his parents and two older brothers.
A month before Ament, Zappala made a big splash by becoming the first rising sophomore to make a Division I commitment known publicly, choosing Maryland. Zappala, who was a start for EA as a freshman, was the first of now more than 100 that have made D1 commitments in the Class of 2015.