By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/29/16
It was a new team that needed to forge its own path.
That’s how Dox Aitken felt about the 2016 Haverford School lacrosse team, which was coming off a perfect 25-0 campaign that saw the Fords finish as the No. 1 team in the country in every poll.
The 2016 squad actually started 1-2, but led by Aitken the Fords enjoyed a brilliant season as well by going 20-5 and claiming the Inter-Ac League championship with a perfect 10-0 mark and the distinction as the No. 1 team in the final Phillylacrosse.com Rankings.
Aitken collected 57 goals and 15 assists, 60 groundballs in 2016 and earned US Lacrosse All-American, and the Inter-Ac League Most Important Player. For his efforts, Aitken has been named the Phillylacrosse.com co-Player of the Year (shared with Upper Dublin’s Michael Sowers).
Aitken also helped Team USA defeat Canada in the FIL U-19 championship and is a top recruit at Virginia.
“I think at first it was hard to get the picture of 2015 out of our heads,” said Aitken. “But once we lost those early games it helped us make our own path. It was hard, but the younger guys began progressing and it was good to see us form a chemistry and win a lot of games.”
The Fords began to carve their path early by rallying for a dramatic 10-9 win over league rival Malvern Prep in their first meeting. Malvern held a 9-5 lead before Haverford School scored five straight goals to win. Haverford won the second game vs the Friars, 16-12 and toppled Malvern, 16-10, in the Inter-Ac Challenge semis before bowing to Culver Academy (IN) in the final, 8-7.
“I think the first game (over Malvern Prep) showed how resilient we were,” said Aitken, who also was a key player on the USA U-19 team that won the FIL World Championship this summer in Coquitlam, British Columbia. “It showed how we trusted ourselves. It was definitely surprising to beat them three times and a testament to how we progressed as a team.”
In 2015 Aitken was one of many standouts, but in 2016 he had to take a larger leadership role.
“I think the people that graduated before me set a really good example and knew how to lead,” he said. “It took a while to get the younger players acclimated and to trust us, but I really loved it (being a leader) and it was a great team to play with.”
Haverford School veteran coach John Nostrant noted that Aitken’s talents and leadership skills were matched by his character on and off the field. Aitken was ranked as the top recruit in his class since freshman year by at least one national recruiting service, but Nostrant said he was the consummate teammate.
“Maybe there is just not another one like him,” said Nostrant, who has coached his share of All-Americans in his 25 years at Haverford School. “He is an athlete built mentally and physically different than everybody else. The most important aspect about him is just him – he is a great, great person and a role model for younger kids. He relished that role; nothing is ever too big for him.
“As an athlete he was like a high school kid in a college body, but he never let that get the best of him. He was a great teammate, a great son … I can’t say enough about him.”
Tags: Haverford School