By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/15/17
There’s a certain sense of calm on Springside Chestnut Hill Academy’s defense that never leaves.
No matter the situation that the Blue Devils’ defense is put in, they’ll find a way to stay even-keeled and not show any signs of panic. Playing together for three years will do that, and it pays off in big situations. Take Monday’s 10-8 win over the Academy of the New Church in the first round of the Inter-Ac Invitational, for example.
SCH raced out to a 7-1 halftime lead before the Lions came to life in the second half, but down the stretch, the Blue Devils (10-11) relied on their veteran group to keep ANC’s young group at bay down the stretch. Senior defenseman Matt Rahill and junior LSM Malcolm Glendinning were the leaders yet again as SCH earned a berth in Wednesday night’s quarterfinals against Episcopal Academy at the Conshohocken Proving Grounds (5:30 p.m.).
“Chemistry is everything for us,” said Glendinning, a Boston University recruit. “Playing any position, it’s important to have that chemistry. That’s definitely a big thing for us.”
It’s clear that they have it, too. Four-time Friends Schools League champion ANC has an explosive offense whose best days are ahead, but the Lions (14-5) could barely get anything done in the first half. Only freshman Wil Vandegrift was able to break through as a response to Jack Lamb’s first goal of the game. From there, the Blue Devils ripped off six straight goals, including two from Zach Messerle.
“We knew they were a really good team,” said Rahill, a Maryland signee. “They had a great year, they won their league, they beat Penn Charter and GA, so we knew they were a good team coming in. We knew we had to come out fast because whenever we come out fast, it’s better for us. We knew coming in that if we played our game, everything would work out.”
The defense was strong, but Springside’s balanced offense was potent enough. Lamb led with three goals, while Mac McLaughlin, CJ Sweitzer and Messerle finished with two goals and an assist apiece. McLaughlin, a Navy recruit, reached the 100-goal plateau for his career.
Once ANC finally got rolling, though, it showed it could be one of the area’s top teams in the very near future. Dave Closterman closed out his Lions career with two goals and fellow senior Pat Kolb added a goal, but after them, the remaining five goals, four assists and five saves came from the sticks of underclassmen. Hunter Jaronski, a 2019 Johns Hopkins commit, continued his ascension into an elite do-it-all pole as he took faceoffs, hounded opposing offensive threats and even found the time to score a goal.
The future at ANC is bright, indeed.
“I just knew that their D-poles were good, so I found my matchups with the shorties and I took them to the net,” said Vandegrift, a freshman. “I see big things for ANC. This is just the fourth year with (head coach) Rob (Forster).
“We’ve got a lot of freshmen and sophomores, and I think we’re going to come back next year and prove ourselves.”
Meanwhile, SCH will have a chance at redemption against Episcopal. The Blue Devils played the Churchmen close this year, falling, 6-5 and 10-7, and with that defense, Mike DelGrande’s group has a shot to hang with any of the teams left in the tournament.
“They have a great offense and they’re a great all-around team,” Rahill said. “We’ve got to come out strong, play our game and play smart.”
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy 10, Academy of the New Church 8
ANC 1 0 5 2 – 8
SCH 5 2 2 1 – 10
Academy of the New Church
Dave Closterman 2g
Wil Vandegrift 2g
Jeb Brenfleck 1g, 1a
Hunter Jaronski 1g
Pat Kolb 1g
John Veit 1g
Bailey O’Connor 2a
Andrew Lapenta 1a
Griff McGinley 5 saves
Springside Chestnut Hill Academy
Jack Lamb 3g
Mac McLaughlin 2g, 1a (100th career goal)
CJ Sweitzer 2g, 1a
Zach Messerle 2g, 1a
Brendan Clark 1g
Ryan Murray 11/12 FO
Gabe Smithline 9/10 FO
Bern Popky 6 saves