By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/6/21
Grant Pierce compared the 2021 Radnor lacrosse team to a family with members who would do anything for the whole.
“We band together; it’s like a great group of brothers,” said the senior defenseman and co-captain. “What we accomplished was incredible and I couldn’t be more proud.
“They give everthing they have to me, I give everythting they have to me. All 35 of us just work everyday and it’s amazing to watch.”
The camaraderie and hard work, clearly, paid off in 2021 for the Raiders.
Radnor won the rugged Central League with an undefeated mark and then claimed the PIAA Class AAA championship with a dominating 10-2 win over Kennett. Radnor closed its season at 23-2 and was the No. 2 team in the final Phillylacrosse.com Rankings.
In the middle of the Raider team was Pierce, who led a defensive unit which stymied the most potent attacks all year, especially Kennett in the title game. The Blue Demons were shut out in the second half the finale and the Radnor defense, led by Pierce, was a huge factor.
For his efforts, Pierce has been named the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year with Malvern Prep’s Eric Spanos.
Pierce had all the attributes of a star defensemen – toughness, smarts, footwork and a ferocious, physical style. But what most made Pierce so effective was his leadership, and ability to unite a defense and team, according to Radnor coach John Begier.
“Grant’s been in our program for 4 years and he brings what you see in games every day in practice,” Begier said. “During practies, he is ultra competitive and has a great desire to win.
“He was a really good leader, along with (co-captain) mark McKeon. The guys loved being led by them. Grant and Mark set the table every day by how hard they compete in practice.”
McKeon agreed with Begier: “Grant was a great teammate. He was the captain beside me and I wouldn’t have been able to lead the team without him. Everyday in practice he set the tone and physicality for us to follow, and some of the athletic plays he made would blow your mind.
“He was one of the best athletes I’ve ever had the chance to play with or against, and I would be lucky to have another teammate like him during my college lacrosse journey.”
Pierce credits the Radnor team-first attitude for the program’s success. “There’s this thing we talk about at the beginning of the year, every year – the Radnor mentality.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, what size you are or what your name is. Guys step up and start playing their roles and make plays.”
Pierce said Radnor coaches told the team before the PIAA final that the opportunity to compete for a state championship was a special opportunity. Pierce said the game plan was perfect.
“A lot of credit goes to defensive coach John Sims,” Pierce said. “He gave us a great game plan in practice. We worked on shifts, and positioning and sliding. It was a really good package.”
Pierce said the entire Radnor defense earned any award he received. The group also included goalie Robert Hobbs, defenseman Will Gallagher and Carson Smith, LSMs Casey Ott, Thomas Barton, and Luciano Chadha and defensive middies McKeon, Peter Vitale, and Giordan Romando.
“Our coaches talked about this being the last time this team will ever be together so we had to play it like it was life or death. We were flying around and playing our game. That’s Radnor lacrosse, playing lockdown defense.”
Pierce admits that the Raiders raised their level of play after being surprised by Springfield-Delco in the District 1 semifinals.
“We did set three goals and they were to win the Central League, win districts and win states,” he said. “We fell short in districts, but we won the Central League and once we couldn’t get the district we all knew what we had to do to win the state. And then we got it done.”