By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/22/21
Jake Brownley said his Malvern Prep squad did just about everything wrong when it fell to Haverford School, 9-8, on May 6 in its lone Inter-Ac League defeat of the season.
“We failed on the little things in all aspects of the field…,” said the Friars’ co-captain senior defenseman. “On offense, on defense, in between the lines, clearing, riding, man up, man down – we were at our worst and they probably were at their best.
“We had this in the back of our heads. We knew this day would come and we’d be at home and we were excited.”
That excitement showed early today as the host Friars (19-2) bolted to a 6-0 first-quarter lead and coasted to a 14-5 victory over Haverford (12-6) in the Inter-Ac League championship. The title was the third straight for Malvern Prep – of course no champion was crowned last year – a senior-laden team that had many sophomores playing key roles two years ago, before COVID-19 ended a 2020 season with very high expectations.
“It’s indescribable,” said Brownley. “Especially, knowing that this past football season we only played four games and that left a bad taste in my mouth. We were able to play 19 or 20 (actually 21) games and to end it like we did is awesome.”
The Friars’ first period explosion was a dominant display. They had several good chances early against Fords’ standout goalie Chuck Cacciutti (16 saves), and finally struck gold as Eric Spanos, Tucker Milhous, AJ Nikolic, Colin McGill, Nikolic (3G, 1A) again and Spanos again scored six goals in a span of 6 minutes, 25 seconds. All were scored on well set-up possessions and efficient passes.
“We lost to Haverford here and that was one of the biggest turning points of the season,” Spanos (2 goals) said. “We all had a chip on our shoulder and it obviously showed today
“We were just saying before the game to play as a whole and not as individuals. Almost our entire starting lineup is going D1 and we have a lot of kids that can do their own thing – but when we come together and play as a whole it’s pretty special and that’s what we did today.”
Haverford finally got on the board late in the first period on the first of three goals by Geordy Holmes, but McGill (4G, 1A) answered and Wil Peden (3G, 2A) later made it 8-2 before the half.
Wills Burt scored to open the second half for Haverford School, but any comeback attempt was squelched on goals by McGill and Peden.
“Our mindset all year was that we got robbed last year,” said Malvern short-stick middie Cooper Frankenheimer (two caused turnovers). “We have a group of 31 seniors and we wanted to get a full season in.
“We all went to see them (the Fords) play against Episcopal Academy (in the semifinals) and (when they won) it was meant to be. We got to pay them back, and to do it on our turf with this bunch of guys was so great.”
Haverford School’s season had its share of ups and downs, but was peaking after the win over Malvern Prep and a 15-11 semifinal win at Episcopal. This was the first full season for the program under coach Brendan Dawson, who was the top assistant under legendary John Nostrant (recently hired as head coach at Washington College) in 2019.
“We fought to the very last second,” said Holmes. “The score reflects one thing, but our hearts are always in the game. Malvern played a great game and I have respect to them. I think that’s what makes it hurt so much. It seemed like everything was coming together at the end.
“We fought to the very last second,” Holmes said. “The score reflects one thing, but our hearts are always in the game. Malvern played a great game and I have respect to them. I think that’s what makes it hurt so much. It seemed like everything was coming together at the end.
“This has been our coaching staff’s first full year and my fourth year and I am just so proud of them,” added Holmes. “They did a great job all season trying to replace a legend (Nostrant). Coach Dawson has done such a great job and I wanted to thank the coaching staff, the other senior leaders and the younger guys.”
Peden said his team learned somekey lessons from the loss to Haverford School.
“We’re at our best when we take it one play at a time and keep it simple,” he said. “We learned from that last game against Haverford. We were sloppy, but this time we came out focused on each play and played as a team instead of playing as individuals.
“It felt good with this environment (large crowd with few protocol restrictions). It’s been 2 years since we had an environment like this and it was a great to end it at home for our school.”
Inter-Ac League championship
Malvern Prep 14, Haverford School 5
Malvern Prep 6-2-2-4 – 14
Haverford School 1-1-2-1 – 5
Eric Spanos 2g
Colin McGill 4g, 1a
Will Peden 3g, 2a
AJ Nikolic 3g, 1a
Tucker Milhous 2g
Nick Potemski 3a
Lucca DiBartolomeo 1a, 1gb
Jake Brownley 1a, 2gbs
Chris O’Grady 6 saves
Joseph Doherty 3 saves
Justin Turley 5/10 face offs
Dylan Almonte 2/3
Pup Buono 3/8 faceoffs
Cooper Frankenheimer 2 forced turnovers
Geordy Holmes 3g
Wills Burt 1g
Ryan DiRocco 1g, 1a
Chuck Cacciutti 16 saves
Recent Inter-Ac League champions
2001 – Haverford School
2002 – Haverford School, Malvern Prep
2003 – Malvern Prep
2004 – Haverford School, Malvern Prep
2005 – Haverford School, Malvern Prep
2006 – Haverford School
2007 – Haverford School, Malvern Prep
2008 – Malvern Prep
2009 – Haverford School, Malvern Prep
2010 – Haverford School, Malvern Prep
2011 – Haverford School
2012 – Haverford School
2013 – Malvern Prep
2014 – Malvern Prep
2015 – Haverford School
2016 – Haverford School
2017 – Haverford School
2018 – Malvern Prep 17, Haverford School 13
2019 – Malvern Prep 9, Haverford School 8 (2OT)
2020 – No season due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021 – Malvern Prep 14, Haverford School 5