By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/31/08
The elite boys’ teams in the Philadelphia area learned exactly where they stand last week in the national scene.
Each of the top four teams in the Phillylacrosse.com Top 10 Poll played at least one game against nationally-ranked or nationally-recognized teams from the perennial hotbeds of Baltimore and New York.
Haverford School, ranked No. 1 by Phillylacrosse.com and 19th nationally by Inside Lacrosse, made the biggest splash Wednesday by downing the No. 1 team in the nation, Maryland’s Loyola Blakefield, 7-5.
The Fords traveled back to Maryland Saturday to meet the No. 5 team in the nation, Gilman School, Md., and led 5-1 early in the second half before suffering a respectable 11-8 defeat.
While the Fords (4-1) held their own against the nation’s best, No. 2 Malvern Prep (ranked 11th by Inside Lacrosse) suffered a tight 6-5 loss Saturday to traditional Maryland power McDonogh. Malvern was ranked 11th by Inside Lacrosse and McDonogh was unranked.
Last Wednesday, No. 3 La Salle (7-1) downed McDonogh, 9-8, in overtime. And on Saturday, No. 4 Downingtown East trekked to New York to face Inside Lacrosse’s No. 2 team, West Genesee, and was handed a 7-4 defeat.
Earlier in the season, Haverford defeated another member of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), St. Paul’s, 10-3, while La Salle toppled the same team, 12-4. Several weeks ago, Episcopal Academy dropped a tight 7-5 contest to McDonogh and The Hill School played Loyola Blakefield tough in an 8-4 loss.
What does it all mean?
“Our win (over McDonogh) was a great win for Pennsylvania lacrosse,” La Salle coach Bill Leahy said. “For the past three years the Pennsylvania schools have been close to the MIAA schools … we would win one out of three or four a season, but nothing on a consistent basis … that is what is making 2008 different.”
Haverford coach John Nostrant said that playing the top teams will continue to raise the bar.
“It’s nice to see Philly teams winning some games, but most important is that we are scheduling the best around,” he said “I think from top to bottom, Philly lacrosse has more and better teams than most areas. I think we are better than the New York schools now.”
How do the Baltimore players feel about Philadelphia lacrosse? Gilman’s standout junior middie, Jack Doyle, had plenty of praise for Haverford.
“It’s awesome. [Wednesday] they (the Fords) beat Loyola, the No. 1 in the country and No. 1 in our league, so first we had to defend the turf in Baltimore,” Doyle said to the Baltimore Sun. “Honestly, I think they’re the best team we’ve played this year. Just to come out like we did and come out as a team … that’s what feels the best.”
Cougars get taste of the big-time
Downingtown East (2-2) held its own in the 7-4 loss at West Genesee, a perennial New York power that now figures to be the top-ranked team in the country.
Jordan Rogers scored three goals for the Wildcats and goalie Steve Mahle recorded 18 saves to overcome a 30-15 advantage in shots by the Cougars. Dylan Hoff had two goals for the defending Pennsylvania state champions and Shane Sturgis and Rocco Pilero added one each while Mike Strathy had five saves.
“We were right there, but we made a couple mistakes and every time you make a mistake they score,” said East coach Tom Slate. “That was the best team we have ever played; maybe not personnel-wise, but in how well-coached they are. That’s been their MO for the past 30 years.
“But it was a surreal experience, just being a part of it. They threw us a nice party and they have a nice bunch of kids.”