By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/27/16
Upper Dublin’s Jack Rapine said his Cardinals’ are not setting any long-term goals this year.
“The goal is work as hard as we can and be the best we can be; if anybody beats us on the way, props to them,” he said.
On Saturday the visiting Cardinals looked like a team that is poised to have a big 2016 season when they routed defending PIAA champion Radnor, 16-4, in a season opener for both.
Upper Dublin has dominated the Suburban One the past three years, but last year was knocked out in the second round of District 1 play by Conestoga. This year’s team features a number of key returnees, including All-Americans Rapine (Johns Hopkins signee) and Michael Sowers (attackman, Princeton commit and USA U-19 member). But first-year coach David Sowers, who served as J.P. Banks’ top assistant the past four years, said his team will only reach its potential by staying focused against all foes, including the struggling Suburban One teams.
“We really want to take it one game at a time this year,” he said. “Today we were only thinking about Radnor; they are an amazing coached team with great players. We happened to have a better day today, but we have a lot to clean up. At times we were sloppy, but we’ll clean that up as we go.”
Sowers had two goals and seven assists Saturday and his uncanny play-making helped Michael Mullen (Vassar commit) and Max Winebrake each score five goals. Nick Vernacchio (St. Joseph’s signee) had two goals and Evan Scott (Ursinus commit) added three assists while junior goalie Dylan Lojeski had 14 saves and Rapine won 12 of 17 face-offs.
The Cards led, 3-1, after one period and 5-2 at halftime before blowing it open with four goals to open the second half.
On Tuesday Upper Dublin opens its Suburban One season against Norristown, one of several conference teams that will be overmatched against the Cards. Rapine said his team must not let down when it faces league foes as well as its non-league opponents (Spring-Ford, Avon Grove and Springfield-Delco)
“This year we’re trying to get more focus in every game,” he said. “We are working harder in practice and trying to get better every day. It’s all about practice.
“I was really happy with our team defense today and our off-ball defense is looking great,” Rapine added. “Our wing play on the faceoffs was great; we were getting lots of groundballs. We need the 50-50 groundballs. And our offense was amazing as it always is.”
Radnor also lost its first game last year and two of its first three games. of course, the season ended with a state championship in overtime over St. Joseph’s, so Raiders coach John Begier was optimistic despite the lopsided score.
“When we put together our schedule, we always want to play the best,” he said. “No doubt in our minds, Upper Dublin is one of the best teams in the state and I think this keep us focused and practicing the right way. They have several players that are the best in the state at what they – like Rapine and Sowers – so this was a huge test for us.”
Jack Wilson, a First-Team All-Phillylacrosse.com pick who had the game-winning goal in the state final last year, scored two goals for the Raiders. Luke Jones and Cole Scheuerle also scored one each.
“We have a bunch of guys stepping into newer roles,” said Begier. “Some of these guys were role players last year and are starters now; some guys maybe were not even on the team last year and are on the field. The lights were bright on us today.
“We were in the game today at halftime and they went on a run. We’ll be better for it; we found out whee we were and we’ll be better for it. They are everything we thought they would be. They are one of the best teams in the state, if not the best. It’s March – we have been on our backs before and we’ll find our way.”
Upper Dublin 16, Radnor 4
Upper Dublin 3-2-4-7- 16
Radnor 1-1-1-1- 4
Michael Sowers 2g, 7a
Max Winebrake 5g
Michael Mullen 5g
Jack Rapine 1a, 12 of 17 FO
Evan Scott 3a
Conor Wall 1g
Jerry Bardol 1g
Nick Vernacchio 2g
Nick Sowers 1a
Dylan Lojeski 14 saves
Jack Wilson 2g
Luke Jones 1g
Cole Scheuerle 1g
Tucker Ballbach 8 saves