By Joseph Santoliquito
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/26/19
Riley White’s hair was still wet an hour after he became a national champion. The Cabrini senior goalie and third-team all-American out of Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School was nothing short of sensational in enabling the Cavaliers to win their first Division III national championship.
White made 11 saves in Cabrini’s 16-12 victory over Amherst (18-4) before 18,702 at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
White is just one of many Cavaliers who weren’t exactly high recruits coming out of high school.
He’s another example of how Cabrini coach Steve Colfer pieced together a national champion with players primarily from the Philadelphia region.
“I wasn’t really recruited at all (out of high school),” said White, who faced 23 shots on goal. “I got a few looks. Cabrini was one of them. But, no, I would say I wasn’t that heavily recruited out of high school.
“But I love the game and it was big goal to play college lacrosse. I was going to play somewhere, and when Steve showed an interest, that’s when I committed to play at Cabrini. I’m happy I did.”
Colfer was told by White’s older brother, Tyler, an assistant coach at Dickinson, that if he wasn’t able to make it as a goalie, he’s athletic enough to play defensive middie. Colfer, however, saw something in White to give him the net.
“As a program, we were never getting the first looks of guys,” Colfer said. “We were always having to kind of dig and find and listen and keep our ears open, and when we would hear local guys who may be coming home for one reason or another, didn’t work out at school A, or college football didn’t work out but we knew he was a darn good athlete, we hunted those guys down, and we were persistent in that.
“And all the guys that have worked with me on the coaching staff to get to this point, you darn well better have guys like that. You can’t sit behind your desk and wait for the good players to show up.
“You’ve gotta go find them. And we weren’t a first-choice destination, and I don’t know if we ever will be, even though we just won a national championship.”
Cabrini has been a Top 10 team for years, but had never been a Final Four team until this year.
“We have the underdog mentality, and we find guys that that appeals to and I sell,” said Colfer. “I’m not going to lie, I sell it.
“But what I sell is the fact that, hey, you’re going to come here and get an opportunity to get a top-rated education, you’re going to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself, and you’re going to have friends and brothers for the rest of your life.”
After a slow start, Cabrini, thanks to huge saves by White, began to roll in the second half. The Cavaliers outscored Amherst 10-6 over the final two quarters, holding down Amherst’s dangerous Evan Wolf (Lower Merion) and Colin Minicus, who combined for three goals.
“Amherst is so good, and they’re so shifty, but we trusted what we did and I told coach Colfer I could stop their shots,” White said. “I can’t out into words what we did, and how everyone came together.
“This is something I’ll forget. I graduated with a degree in educational studies and I’m thinking about going back to coach. I coach a girls’ team right now with HEADstrong. My girls gave me a shout out this morning.
“It was awesome!”
Haverford School alum Timmy Brooks added a couple of key goals in the fourth quarter, one wound up being the difference. Going into the championship game, Brooks was only going to play man-up.
But when attack Jake Klein went down early in the game, Colfer turned to Brooks, who just received the OK from his doctor the night before to play a full game after recovering from a broken right collarbone in February.
“When Jake went down, and my doctor called last night and gave me the green light to play, I was willing to put it all on the line,” Brooks said. “You can’t really imagine any of this, what happened to me, where I was and where I am now. It was important to share this with my team and all of the fans we had here.
“These guys sacrificed so much to make this happen. I was happy to be a part of it. I’ll never forget it.”