By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/17/21
WILMINGTON, Del. – Midfielder Aidan McCabe was asked why Black Bear’s 2022 team continued to play deep into the fall despite having half the team committed as rising seniors.
“I was one of two players that’s been with the team all six years and, honestly, we just have a special bond,” said McCabe, a 2022 from Perkiomen Valley who has signed with Manhattan. “We’d get a few new kids every year, but we have this family atmosphere that makes it so special. We knew this was our last ride and we really started putting it all together.
“We do things together outside of lacrosse and it makes it so much fun when we do play lacrosse.”
Black Bear enjoyed its final time together last weekend, finishing 3-0 in the 2022/23 Red Division of the Victory Events Liberty National Fall Classic at Chase Field House. Black Bear closed with a 9-4 win over HEADstrong Lehigh Valley, scoring the game’s final seven goals.
Black Bear coach Blaise Cesarone said it’s rare that a senior-based club team would play into mid-November, but felt McCabe’s analysis was correct.
“I coached them for 4 years, and it’s a credit to their hard work that they’ve become successful,” Cesarone said. “Some years we struggled mightily, but they did everything we asked, and also on their own.
“We saw it this summer when we won a couple of championships. To end it like this has been something special. To have a group of 2022s with over half the team committed … these guys just want to play together. To come out to these tournaments and wake up early and drive a couple hours because the team’s bond is so close has really been special.
“This fall I got to enjoy watching them play and they did some things that would make your jaw drop. I couldn’t be happier for them and I am looking forward to seeing how they do go forward in lacrosse and also in life.”
Cesarone will have a hand in at least four of the futures of Black Bear 2022 grads – since four members have committed to Gwynedd Mercy University where he is a first-year head coach. The four are Gunnar Seaman (Methacton attack/midfield), Adam Gallagher (Boyertown, midfield-attack), Dylan Gazda (Owen J. Roberts, defenseman) and Zach Womer (Boyertown, midfield) .
“We play for each other,” said Seaman. “If someone is struggling, we look to each other. The sport brought us together, but we’re best friends. We hang out, we can talk about anything and we find strength in that. We wanted to keep playing for us and for the kids that are not committed.”
“We’re all here even though we’re committed for a reason,” added Gallagher. “Today I couldn’t hit my shots, but we wanted to win this last tournament so the guys went all out.”
In the win, HEADstrong took a 4-2 lead late in the first half as Black Bear struggled with ball control and at the faceoff X. But William Jaeger (Owen J. Roberts, attack) scored late in the half and McCabe (two goals) tied it early in the second half. Josh Devine (Owen J. Roberts), who had three goals, put Black Bear up 5-4 and Seaman (two goals) made it 6-4 before McCabe, Devine and Colin Wagner (Daniel Boone, 2023 attackman) scored to make it 9-4.
“Our defense needed to meet heads and not try to do self-ball,” said Gazda. . “We began to play as a team. We talked it out and got into our package and started sliding.”
“We succeeded because of the environment,” added Gazda.
Said Devine: “We’re all so close, basically it’s a family. I think we all knew it was our last game together and that we had to push for a win. We got the groundballs and we played aggressively.”