By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/14/18
Penn*Lax coach Luke Wiles says the commitment to box lacrosse continues to grow in the Philly region.
“I think the parents in this area are starting to see value of box lacrosse and what it can do for players and their field game,” said Wiles, a Canadian-born former NLL All-Star who also is head coach at Archbishop Carroll. “More talented kids in the area are seeking out elite box coaching.”
Wiles was a co-coach of the Penn*Lax Silver (fresh/soph) team dominated this winter, going 13-0 while winning championships at the USBoxla Northeast Regional (besting Tri-State lacrosse), Fusion Best in Box (besting BBL), and the Upstate Winter Shootout (besting Edge Lacrosse).
The Silver team was just part of the Penn*Lax success story. Penn*Lax Platinum (HS varsity) also was 13-0, winning championships at the USBoxla Regional (besting O2 lacrosse), Fusion Best in Box (besting BBL), and the Garden State Box Battle (again besting BBL).
The Penn*Lax advance team (7/8 grade) only suffered one loss but went three for three, winning championships at the USBoxla Regional (besting Tri-State), Fusion Winter Classic (besting BBL), and the Upstate Winter Shootout (besting Albany Attack).
The Penn*Lax Rise team (5/6 grade) lost two championship games but finished undefeated in its last tournament in Upstate New York.
Penn*Lax is a winter program open to all club players from the region; it does not interfere with the normal club events and it features elite coaches, most of whom have played or coached in the NLL and MLL.
“This was a huge winter season for our Penn*Lax clubs and is a testament to full commitment from all players, coaches, and families,” said Penn*Lax co-founder Steven Holmes. “While winning is always gratifying, by far the most rewarding part is that all of these kids, who were already talented field players, visibly improved in so many areas of their game this winter.
“It is going to be awesome watching them in their spring field seasons using skills they have picked up through Penn*Lax. That is ultimately the goal of all of our box programming, to use it as a means to vastly improve outdoor performance.
“We wouldn’t be able to do that without great attendance for all 8 two-hour practices this winter which we got from every player and coach. It was run like a professional team and we are all very proud of what we were able to accomplish this winter.”
The players have found many reasons to play box lacrosse with Penn*Lax: the camaraderie, team success and skills that transfer to their field game.
“The hardest thing about (playing box) is catching those quick passes when cutting down the middle or finishing on a huge goalie,” said Scott Deck, a 2018 Haverford School attackman. “When I go outside and have all that room to catch and throw it’s so easy. When you shoot shoot on a 6×6 net on a goalie with no pads on it’s a whole different thing.”
“I definitely see improvement when I get onto the field,” added Jack Daly, a 2018 attackman from Haverford High who has signed with Monmouth. “It’s much easier to score; especially since we have really tough goalies.”
Kieran Ward, a Malvern Prep 2018 attackman who will play at Gettysburg, said box lacrosse forces players to improve their footwork.
“It’s helped a lot because you have a lot more spacing in the field game. We are used to running downhill; here you have to stop and turn and make quick moves. Also, the coaching we have here helps a lot.”
Stephen Blue, a 2020 attackman from Souderton who scored 44 goals as a freshman last year, said his lacrosse IQ has benefited from playing box. “I have better stick position and a better sense of where I am on the field so it’s easier to beat my man.”
“It helps with stick positioning and also with shooting,” said Malvern Prep 2020 Jack Jogerst. “Once you get used to shooting on box goalies with the smaller cage and pads, then you go out and start popping goals in.”
Blue said the Penn*Lax coaching staff continues to raise the level of play for the program. “I’d say the superb coaching and work ethic we all have is the key. We work hard every practice and every game. The coaching influences that even more.”
What’s next for Penn*Lax? Some teams are considering traveling to USBoxla nationals in August in Los Angeles where they hope to match up against national powers like Denver Elite, Cali*Lax All-Stars, Resolute Lacrosse, and others.
Penn*Lax plans to continue training platforms throughout the year, including training leagues for all ages including college aged players through the summer, fall, and winter.
“This training will help us expose our great box coaches and platform to more players, as well as act as a training ground before tryouts next November,” said Holmes. “It’s scary to think about how good we’ll be next winter, and I truly believe that our Penn*Lax teams are right on the heals of the Canadians as far as how they are playing the game. Certainly we are already excited about planning some trips north of the border.”
Interested in training opportunities with Penn*Lax this summer? Please contact Todd MacFarlane: email@example.com