By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/4/14
Co-captain Grady Jackson-Fayle said the England Academy U17 team was anxious to test itself in the Quaker Fall LaxFest Sunday at Radnor High.
“We were pretty confident coming in,” said Jackson-Fayle, a 2015 midfielder and co-captain. “The whole week we were playing high level lacrosse and we stepped up our game just to meet the opposition.
“Coming in our morale was high. We were ready to show the Quaker lacrosse tournament what English lacrosse could do. It was so eye-opening to see the whole level of (USA club) lacrosse. It was an unbelievable experience.”
The players on the England Academy team may not have drawn too many of the more than 100 coaches at Sunday’s elite recruiting event. But the Academy’s presence was one of the attractions as some of England’s top high school players held their own against traditional US powers Twist 2016 (PA) FLG 2016-17 (NY) and Dukes L.C.(PA) in the 30-team tourney.
The Academy brought 24 top players from a number of club programs for nine days. The team played games last week vs. Philly powers Malvern Prep (Inter-Ac League and Invitational champions, undefeated and ranked among Top 3 in the nation), Avon Grove (PIAA finalist and District 1 champion), La Salle (Catholic League champion), Radnor (Central League runner-up) and West Chester East to prepare for the tournament. The players also received a clinic provided by Malvern Prep.
The England Academy is a feeder program for players expected to compete for spot on the country’s U-19 team. England high schools do not play lacrosse, but players compete on club teams and also on men’s teams. Some of the clubs that feed to the England Academy include Rochdale LC, Timperley LC, Brooklands LC and Heaton Mersey LC.
“We came over in 2013 and stayed with host families, but this time we came for the high competition and to gain experience,” said 2015 midfielder and co-captain Daniel Matthews. “I just enjoyed it.”
The team’s lone goalie, 2015 Elliott Hurry, said that facing US shooters gave him a lot of bruises, but lots of confidence.
“It’s a very different level, so you learn a lot about yourself while you are out there,” he said. “You learn how to change your game and develop a bit.”
Hurry said the experience of bonding with his teammates for a full week of lacrosse was special. “I enjoyed making friends with everyone and spending time with them.”
The English players said they expect to get the opportunity to try out for the British U-19 team. Playing so much lacrosse against elite teams can only help them.
“We don’t have high school teams; our club teams train once a week and play games once a week so to see high school training every day and playing two or three games a week … it’s say hats off to them,” said Jackson-Fayle.
Matthews said the trip was one-of-a-kind.
“There are memories you just can’t forget,” he said. “It’s amazing to be playing against people that are going to play college lacrosse. You never thought you’d get experience like that can’t get experience like that. You just got to take in every moment you get.”