By Chris Goldberg, Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 8/26/20
When Team Philly opens play in the Highlight (2021-22) Division of the All America Underclass East Super Regional Thursday morning at Maple Zone, a summer of lacrosse like no other will end with a much-anticipated event.
And for Sam Morin and his teammates, it’s the ideal ending to what’s been a challenging six months.
“This is a really great tournament and we definitely want to play at a fast level,” said Morin, an uncommitted 2021 defenseman from Garnet Valley. “We missed the whole high school season and that’s a year of development.
“We’ve been trying to get that back. I was lucky to play about 30 games of club with Freedom and this is an awesome way to finish the summer.”
The Under Armour event – normally held around July 4 weekend – had to be greatly altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 48 teams (12 each for boys’ and girls’ in two age classes, 2021-22 and 2023-24) are being split into four regionals, playing at different times. Click here for rosters and schedules for the entire East Regional.)
The East Regional includes Philadelphia, New Jersey and CONNY (Connecticut-Upstate New York) with games Thursday and playoffs on Friday. The winner of each regional title game advances to a four-team championship tourney at a time and place to be determined this fall.
The Team Philly Highlight squad, coached this year by Tom Lemieux (Springfield-Delco), Rob Forster (La Salle) and Jack Forster (Academy of the New Church), has been a consistent contender for the overall All America title.
“I wanted to make this team, like my brother (Hunter) did a few years ago,” said 2021 midfielder Christian Mazur (Strath Haven). “Philly is known for having top players like Dox Aitken and Matt Moore and we’re going in with our heads held high and looking for a championship.
“It was tough to lose the (high school) season. Once we found out we went right to the weight room and the turf fields every day, trying to get ready for the summer. This is the best way we could end the season, especially since we can get some looks.”
Morin said he benefited from playing every day with his 2020 brother attackman Jake Morin, a Penn State signee.
“Over the quarantine all you could do is play lacrosse,” said Morin, whose Garnet Valley squad was considered by many to be a pre-season contender for a state title. “I wish we had had the chance to win a state title.
“But I was able to work with my brother and we did 1-in-1’s every single day. He really helped me get ready. I have had a lot more time to pay attention to details like my footwork and stick skills.”
Added Mazur: “This was probably my best summer of lacrosse. I built confidence in my offensive game (with NXT). They looked for me to make plays.”
Goalie Abby Jansen, a 2021 from Radnor, said the Philly girls’ Highlight team has the talent and desire to challenge for the title Friday.
“I think that we have a very solid team and I have been lucky to play with many of these players over the years,” she said. “Our goal is to have fun, win, and make it to Baltimore for the finals.
“This tournament is always the highlight of the summer and we look forward to playing some of the best players in the country. We are especially grateful to have the opportunity to compete during these times.”
Jansen said Team philly enters the tourney with confidence after a strong practice Tuesday.
“Our team has a lot of talent, speed, and solid finishers,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing us build on this after every game this week.”