Editor’s Note: This is the first of two roundups on players from the seven Philly club programs that competed in the Quaker Fall LaxFest on Sunday
By James Boyle
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/3/13
Around this time last year, Richie Buzza was getting back into lacrosse shape with his club team, Man Up. But during one of their practices, Buzza heard a pop. It was his ACL, and it was torn.
Buzza – now a senior at Malvern Prep – missed all but one game last season after the injury.
“It was really hard first getting at it, but a lot of hard work and a lot of rehab and I’m just back to 100 percent now,” Buzza said. “Just working on my conditioning, my stick skills, getting rid of all the rust.”
Now that the recovery process is over, the uncommitted midfielder is playing with something to prove. He’s back with Man Up, which participated Sunday in the annual Quaker Fall LaxFest at Radnor. The event featured 24 elite teams – including squads from seven Philly club programs – from around the East Coast.
“I really hope that I can, this upcoming season, make First-Team All Inter-Ac,” Buzza said. “I want to really come out, play hard with a chip on my shoulder and come back from the injury. I want to prove I’m better than before, that the injury’s over with and I’m past it.
“I’m really hoping these fall tournaments can help me out. I’m looking to talk to some new coaches to see where I can really fit in a team and their system.”
Mesa Fresh 2015 was lacking midfield depth Sunday, but Ben Hiltebeitel stepped up and had a solid day for his club.
“Daylight Savings really helped, got that extra hour of sleep, woke up and thought it was going to be a lot colder than it was.”
Hiltebeitel said he wants to make a good impression on college scouts at tournaments like the Quaker Fall LaxFest. But he also has his sights set on the more immediate future at Owen J. Roberts this spring.
“We have one rival in our league: Spring-Ford. And we always go to the championship with them. We had a three-peat, and now they have had a three-peat. So [our goal is to] just get the championship back.”
Twist 2015 attackman Connor Howell has had his share of success at the high school level, but he’s not yet satisfied.
“This [Twist] team has been together for about five years, all of us,” Howell said of a squad that won all three of its games Sunday, over the CNY Roadhawks (Syracuse area), 12-7, Long Island Express 2016, 10-5, and New England Storm 11-3. “We’ve picked up a couple kids over the years, lost a couple, but the main group has been together and we’ve just always worked well together. We feel that we look best when we’re working together, passing the ball.”
Howell led Berks County in total points with 128, last season at Wilson West Lawn. He also led the county in both goals and assists.
“I think my biggest strengths are my vision and my feeding ability – dodging, looking for another pass, looking for someone who’s cutting – and just getting everybody involved.”
HEADstrong 2014 goalie Alex Ataiifar and his teammates took a tough loss to Dukes Gray on Sunday, but Ataiifar knows how to stay positive.
“I think we came out a little flat, he said. “But we’ll get right back at it.”
Ataiifar, who starts for Downingtown West, says he’s looking at a few schools but is leaning toward a Division I school.
“I’m almost done with my recruiting process,” Ataiifar said. “But this is a good tournament just to come out and get your last looks and see if you’ve got anything else that’s appealing for college.”