By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/9/17
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year of sorts for The Haverford School.
Decimated by graduating multiple All-American standouts in the past two graduation classes, this was the year that the Fords’ foes had circled as the year to take down John Nostrant’s powerful outfit. That belief grew stronger when Haverford School was outclassed in it its opener against McDonogh School and lost the following game to St. Paul’s in overtime.
Four games later, it looks like that “rebuilding” year is a reloading year instead. Saturday, host Haverford School got four goals from Luke O’Grady and a two-goal, five-assist game from the red-hot TJ Malone en route to a 13-10 win over Central League contender Strath Haven at the Checking for Cancer Invitational.
Less than 24 hours earlier, it was Malone who was the goal scorer of choice when he sniped five goals in a 15-11 win over top Inter-Ac contender Malvern Prep. Against the Panthers, he turned provider, assisting on three of O’Grady’s goals to help kickstart the offense.
“I think everyone works as a unit, everyone’s looking for each other, no one’s really selfish and they care about each other,” said O’Grady, a junior Providence recruit. We all like to see everyone get involved, which is one reason why we’re so good.
“I just know TJ is very shifty and has great vision, so I cut off the ball and coordinate a 7 cut. He’s got great vision and he’ll always know where the open guy is.”
Malone’s incredible week came to a close with 10 goals and seven assists in three games, and he established his career-best in points in every game. Parker Henderer and Sage Garito split goaltending duties for the Fords, stopping six shots apiece. Haverford also got matching one-goal, one-assist games from Peter Garno and Gavin Burke, while Joel Trucksess was 14-for-26 at the faceoff X. He and Panthers standout Hunter Mazur split 24 duels evenly.
“We play a lot of the best teams and every good team’s got a good faceoff guy, so I’m playing against a lot of the top talent,” said Trucksess, who scored for the second straight game. “The last two teams (Haven and Malvern) both had senior D-I guys who are both pretty good, so we’ve battled it out pretty tough at the X.
“In the really close games, whoever gets the edge in the faceoffs usually comes out on top. I owe a lot of my success to my wings, helping me get the ground ball.”
The Panthers (5-2) definitely didn’t embarrass themselves. Strath Haven got it as close to 6-5 with a 4-0 second-quarter run thanks to a pair of Tyler Fink goals, part of his career-best five-goal explosion. When the Fords (4-2) started to pull away again late in the third, the Panthers once again put together a 4-0 run, thanks to a goal and two assists from Jeff Conner, part of his five-point day.
The Panthers got a goal and an assist from both Will Huestis and Hunter Mazur and Will Brake stopped eight shots. Strath Haven’s two losses have come to Malvern and Haverford, and those games will help sharpen them up for the Central League gauntlet and what they hope will be a long postseason run in Class AA.
“We were trying to have the hardest schedule,” Fink said. “Each year, we try to build up our schedule, so it was a big test and we tried to prove ourselves and I think we made a good run. I think in the fourth, we started finding the holes in their defense and figured it out.”
That’s bad news for everyone on the Panthers’ remaining schedule.
Haverford School 13, Strath Haven 10
Haverford 4-5-3-1- 13
Strath Haven 1-4-4-1- 10
Strath Haven (5-2)
Tyler Fink 5g
Jeff Conner 2g, 3a
Will Huestis 1g, 1a
Hunter Mazur 1g, 1a
Ibo Pio 1g
Will Brake 8 saves
Haverford School (4-2)
Luke O’Grady 4g
TJ Malone 2g, 5a
Peter Garno 1g, 1a
Gavin Burke 1g, 1a
Ryan Jacob 1g
Connor Devine 1g
Conner Mosebrook 1g
Joel Trucksess 1g, 14-for-26
Scott Deck 1g
Parker Henderer 6 saves
Sage Garito 6 saves