By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/31/17
There was an aura of discomfort in the Springfield-Delco fan section at Penncrest High less than five minutes into Tuesday’s PIAA Class AA tournament opener against Trinity.
Down by three goals on three shots, especially when you’re the defending PIAA champion, tends to lead to a little nervousness. Thankfully for the Cougars, though, it also means that there’s plenty of experience in big games and not much reason to worry when things don’t go their way.
Kyle Long dished out a whopping seven assists and scored once and Mike Tulskie and Ben Garcia each fired home hat tricks as Springfield-Delco (19-3) downed Trinity, 12-5, after erasing an early 3-0 deficit. The Cougars advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal to play District 11 champion Allentown Central Catholic, which walloped Lower Dauphin, 15-1. Time and location are to be determined.
“We’re kind of made for this type of situation,” Springfield All-American defenseman Pat Clemens said. “We get preached to all the time from our coaches about how when other teams go on runs, we’ve got to be able to stop that. We need to be able to answer and I think we were able to do that when we regrouped.”
Of course, it helps to have Long running the offensive show. The Maryland verbal’s vision is rivaled by none in the area, and he’s not afraid to take chances. He set up Ben Garcia for back-to-back goals to get Springfield going and never looked back.
His lone tally of the night gave him his 300th career point as he became just the second Cougar to ever reach that mark after 1992 alumnus Greg Campbell did it. Campbell finished with 324 career points, a mark that Long could theoretically eclipse as soon as a potential state championship game.
Even if it has to wait until next year, the record won’t be for, well, long, as Long will have plenty of opportunities to put it out of reach. He’s deadly, particularly as a passer, from anywhere on the field. That stems from having experience as both a midfielder and an X attackman, which means that there’s no spot on the field where defenses can feel safe.
“It’s a great class to be a part of,” Long said after passing 2015 alumnus and Lehigh starting midfielder Lucas Spence’s mark of 297 points. “I played middie throughout grade school and freshman year, so I have experience up top, and I have experience behind from this year and last year.
“I think that’s what’s so good sometimes. I’m versatile, I can go up top, behind, on the wing. It’s tough to guard a guy at all different spots.”
The defenses that have gone up against him can testify to that. Long elevates the play of those around him and can turn anyone into a legitimate scoring threat by drawing double teams, even behind the cage. On a rare occasion, he’ll turn the ball over by trying something too difficult, even for him. It’s the tradeoff you’ve got to accept to get assists by the bushel and a guy who makes everyone better.
“It’s crazy, because sometimes, you take (him) for granted,” Springfield coach Tom Lemieux said. “I’m hard on him and I think that he knows that it’s because I think he’s so good. His vision is just unmatched.
“I’ve never seen a kid with that type of vision. I love him. He’s come a long way and he’s a hell of a player. We’re just lucky that he’s on our side.”
Trinity was just the latest team to find itself agreeing with Lemieux.
Trinity 3 2 0 0 – 5
Jordan Altmeyer 2g, 1a
Lance Smith 1g
Steven Hergenroeder 2g, 2a
Josh Miller 10 saves
Springfield-Delco 2 4 3 3 – 12
Mike Tulskie 3g, 1a
Ben Garcia 3g
Joey DeBernardi 2g
Kyle Long 1g, 7a
Pat Clemens 1g
Zac Venit 1g
Nick Matty 1g
Mike Vent 1a
James Spence 9 saves