By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/8/09
The Philadelphia Barrage were homeless in 2008. But it did not stop them from making another run at a Major League Lacrosse (MLL) championship.
Because the team’s ownership was taken over by the league, Philadelphia had no home games. But the two-time defending league champions still reached the MLL semifinals before bowing to the eventual champion Rochester Rattlers, 16-15, in a brilliant overtime game at Harvard Stadium.
Rattlers attackman Casey Powell scored the game-winning goal just 45 seconds into overtime to give Rochester its first-ever play-off victory. Meanwhile, the loss marked the first-ever postseason loss for the Barrage, who had won six straight playoff games prior to this year.
For the Barrage, midfielder Matt Striebel (31 goals) and defender Kyle Sweeney(Springfield-Delco) were named to the All-MLL team. Striebel ranked second on the Barrage in scoring with 42 points, scoring a career-best 31 goals with 11 assists. He ranked third among midfielders in both categories. Striebel and Sweeney also were named to represent the Barrage in the MLL All-Star Game.
There were many other players who made major contributions, including goalie Brian Dougherty (Episcopal Academy), defendersBrett Moyer (Ridley) and Brian Spalina, attackers Ryan Boyle (21 goals, 22 assists), Seth Goldberg (29 goals), Michael Springer (21 goals) and Peter Trombino (15 goals) and midfielders Ray Colsey (13 goals), Justin Smith (14 goals), Andrew Corno and Matt Zash.
Dougherty, who later in the year was inducted into the University of Maryland Hall of Fame, won back-to-back Goalkeeper of the Week awards in July. Then, later in the month when Dougherty was out with an illness, backrup Kevin Keenan(Springfield-Delco) excelled in a victory over the Boston Cannons and eanred the Goalkeeper of the Week award.
Barrage fourth-year coach Tony Resch also enjoyed a banner year. He was named the 2008 Brine MLL Coach of the Year and was an assistant in the MLL All-Star Game.
Resch, who also won the Brine award in 2006 when he led the Barrage to their first of two titles, became the second coach in MLL history to be named as the Coach of the Year twice.
Also in 2008, Resch was inducted in the Philadelphia Wings Hall of Fame, was named an assistant for the U.S. National Team and served as an assistant coach at La Salle – thePennsylvania state high school champion.
Resch, also the athletic director and assistant coach at La Salle High, has a 30-18 regular-season record in four seasons.
Elsewhere in the MLL, rookie coach Tom Slate (Springfield-Delco), a former Barrage assistant, took over atSan Francisco and finished strong following a slow start.
The Dragons won three of their final five games after a 1-6 start and relied heavily on a host of Philly grads, including midfielder Bill McGlone (Ridley), midfielder Greg Gurenlian (Springfield-Delco), midfielder Ryan Cranston (Henderson), midfielder Mike Podgajny (Ridley), attacker Xander Ritz (Radnor), defender Steve Holmes (Germantown Academy), midfielder Todd Fairlie (Marple Newtown, Widener) and midfielder Matt Ogelsby (Haverford School).
Guerenlian had a memorable performance in July. He was named Defender of the Week by the MLL in a 21-20 victory over the Long Island Lizards as he won 31 of 41 face-offs and nearly tied an MLL record for groundballs with 22. He also had a goal and three assists.
In Boston, attacker John Christmas (Lower Merion) had his day in the sun. He earned game MVP honors with his game-winning goal with just five seconds left on the clock as the Cannons defeated the Lizards, 13-12, in front of 9,178 fans at Harvard Stadium on a July evening.