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La Salle tops DeMatha (MD), 7-5, in 9th Annual Fallen Heroes Game; Cassel named Travis Manion Award winner

Monday, 15th April 2019

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/15/19
Staff Report

Zac Coar and Will Vandegrift each had two goals and an assist and Shane Cassel was honored for his defense as La Salle toppled DeMatha (MD), 7-5, in the 9th Annual Fallen Heroes Game at Banner Field at the US Lacrosse Tierney Field in Sparks (MD).

The game honors the memory of two true American heroes: First LT. Travis Manion (La Salle grad), who died in Iraq in 2007; and his best friend and roommate from the US Naval Academy, Navy SEAL, Lt. Brendan Looney (DeMatha), who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

When Travis died he was originally buried in a family plot near his hometown. However, after Brendan passed away, the decision was made to bury both men side by side at Arlington National Cemetery.

La Salle (7-3) leads the series, 8-1. DeMatha fell to 7-6.

Travis Manion Award winner Shane Cassel (center) is flanked by (from left) father Paul Cassel, Ryan Manion (Travis’ sister and the President of the Travis Manion Foundation), Col. Tom Manion (Chairman Emeritus of the Foundation) and mother Jenn Cassel

Cassel – a 2019 short-stick midfielder – was named the winner of the prestigious Travis Manion award as the La Salle player that best exemplifies the spirit and determination shown throughout Travis’ life on the playing field and in service to his country.

Cassel led a defense that stifled DeMatha’s attack all night. The Explorers led, 2-1, at halftime and 6-4 after three periods.

“This event means a lot to our program,” said Cassel. “We spent an entire week dedicating everything to Travis Manion and Brendan Looney. Every year, we circle this game and we all look forward to it because it brings us closer together and makes us realize what players came before us and what sacrafices they made – especially Travis and Brendan.

“Coach (Bill) Leahy even added a special day for us on Friday, which consisted of ‘Team Travis’ vs. ‘Team Brendan.’ We would compete against each other and at the end of the drill crawl through the mud and run through the woods.

“Even when we got water, we would army crawl to the water and have to pass it back to each other. It was actually a lot of fun and was a great reminder for those who serve and how much they sacrafice. No matter how hard practice was the people who serve have to sacrifice so much more and that is 1000x harder.”

Cassel was honored to receive the Travis Manion Award, but said the whole team deserved the recognition.

“Our game plan was to come out and play our hearts out,” Cassel said. “We knew what this game meant and we took pride going out on the field. We tried playing like Travis would, giving 100% effort on every play. I was just doing my role on the team like everyone else and giving my best effort.”

Cassel believes the Explorers are ready to make another run at a Catholic League title and a shot at a state championship. Last year La Salle fell to Manheim Township in the PIAA Class AAA final; the team lost many seniors and suffered lopsided defeats this year to powers Haverford School, Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) and Hill Academy (Ontario).

“We had a tough start at the beginning of the season, but we are starting to gain momentum,” Cassel said. “I think our turning point was Hill Academy.

“It brought us together and we knew we could achieve a lot more than we thought. DeMatha was just another step in this journey. We put in a lot of work to get to this point and we are just going to improve from here on out.”

La Salle 7, DeMatha (MD) 5
Half: La Salle 2-1

La Salle
Zac Coar 2G, 1A
Will Vandegrift 2G, 1A
Dan Mallee 1G, 1A
Shane Osborne 1G
Grant Pinto 1G
Shane Cassel (SSMF)
Christian Suter 5 saves
Tom Newell 11/15 FO

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