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HS boys’ preview: Haverford School has new coach but same high expectations

Tuesday, 10th March 2020

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School, Previews  
 

By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/10/20

Some things never seem to change, one of them being Haverford School’s roster being stacked with some of the best talent in the country at every position.

Year after year, you can bank on the Fords being one of the most skilled teams in the country with players committed to play at the country’s top schools. On top of that, there are always some younger players who could start at most other area schools that have to wait their turn because that’s just how things work at Haverford.

Some things decidedly do change, though, and for the first time since 1991, John Nostrant won’t be the one leading the Fords. The two-time national champion coach and 14-time Inter-Ac champion is now at the helm of Gilman School (MD), and it’s officially Brendan Dawson’s time to shine on Lancaster Ave. The two worked in tandem a year ago when the Fords went 17-5 and reached the Inter-Ac Invitational championship, losing in overtime to archrival Malvern Prep.

Dawson, who also signed on to coach the Premier Lacrosse League’s expansion Waterdogs team this summer, is excited to take over.

“Being able to coach with John in the first year was great, and having him around to lean on was awesome,” Dawson said. “I’m excited. The goals are the same. We’re trying to be the same team that we’ve been every year, and the goal is to continue winning at the highest level. It’s not much different than it was last year.”

Haverford opens its slate today at home (4 p.m.) against St. Paul’s School (MD), and it’s expected that the Fords will be back in the Inter-Ac title race and can aim for the national rankings. Offensively, there’s plenty for new offensive coordinator Marty Kupprion to work with, including a pair of returning senior starters in Brennan McBride (Harvard commit) and Pearse Glavin (Williams).

“Those two make us go with their leadership on the field and they complement each other well,” Dawson said. “They score a lot and do a lot for us. They’re two pretty complete attackmen who can both dodge, feed and shoot really hard. We’ve got the lefty-righty balance with them with Brennan being the righty and Pearse being the lefty, and they also get guys in the right spots with their high lacrosse IQs.”

Rounding out the attack line is junior Nolan Cooleen, a big, physical scorer who should benefit a ton from working off of McBride and Glavin. There’s plenty to like in the midfield unit, too. Jack Leary (Georgetown) is a versatile, do-it-all type who picked up a whopping 55 ground balls a year ago. Leary made his bones as a defensive midfielder last year, but he’ll be significantly more involved in the offense as a senior.

Geordy Holmes (Maryland) and Michael Bozzi (Cornell) are a pair of juniors who will prominently figure in the Fords’ plans. Holmes is a smooth, dynamic and strong dodging threat with a hard shot, while Dawson praised Bozzi’s two-way skills and added that the future Big Red midfielder can really let it fly, too. Quintin Campbell is a junior who figures to chip in, too.

“They’ve all played in different roles and they all have a little bit of experience. They’ve played in some big games, and they all have to step up,” Dawson said. “Our junior class in general needs to step up. My challenge to them at the beginning of the year was that, ‘you’ve got to step up. Who’s it going to be?’ We’ve got to figure that out.”

The fact that Haverford will have the ball a lot will help the cause, too, as Dawson has the luxury of rotating two of the league’s best faceoff men in seniors Bobby Blewett (Wagner) and Chris Tsetsekos (Amherst). Blewett is a bull at the X who can scrap, grind and wear down opponents with his tenacity, while Tsetsekos primarily relies on excellent hand speed and the ability to put defenses on their heels off the break.

“They’re two really tough, physical kids with different styles,” Dawson said. “They’re a good change of pace and a good tandem. We’ll go with the guy who’s got the right matchup on the right day. Certain games will be a better matchup for one and vice-versa.”

Defensively, the Fords have the personnel to unveil a bunch of different looks. Senior Teddy Curran (Middlebury) is a quiet cover guy that was, ‘unnoticeable in a good way,’ a year ago, according to Dawson. Senior LSM Chris Dehney (Bowdoin) is strong with good footwork, senior David Graham (Ohio State) is an excellent athlete and cover man whose team defense has come a long way, while senior Ben Murphy (Lehigh football) and juniors Colby Kim (Boston University), Trevor Pettibone and senior Ben Trucksess also will compete for playing time.

They’ll be guarding the cage for a pair of talented goalies in senior Avery Stamps (Skidmore) and sophomore Chuck Cacciutti. Expect to see Stamps first, although Cacciutti has the talent to make it a battle. Either way, Dawson feels comfortable and confident in his goaltending duo.

“Avery has some experience and he’s very consistent,” Dawson said. “He’s a hard worker who’s put in his time, and you know what you’re going to get out of him. Chuck has a really high ceiling. He’s a good athlete who makes big saves and is very good on his outlets.”

As is the custom at Haverford, the schedule does not lend itself to an acclimation period for any transition. There’s the usual daunting nonleague slate, which includes games against St. Paul’s, McDonogh (MD), Georgetown Prep (MD), Culver (IN), Garnet Valley in the 10ve Cup and Brunswick (CT) at Katie Samson, among others. The Inter-Ac reverts to its traditional schedule of playing everyone twice, too, so the Fords will need to be ready from the get-go.

After all, some things change, and others very much stay the same.

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