Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/13/21 – From Staff Report
BALTIMORE – When it came time to match up in the defensive zone Saturday night, Jake Brownley went for a little variety.
The Malvern Prep defenseman hasn’t just matched up with attackman Will Peden all season. It hasn’t just been four years battling each other with the Friars. Instead, their jousts go back all the way to second grade, through their days on Mesa and up the Malvern pipeline.
So in Saturday night’s National Senior All-Star Game at Boys’ Latin School, Brownley was fine with someone else having to deal with his good friend.
“He (Peden) is the best passer in the game and has deceptively quick speed, he can blow by you like that,” Brownley said of the Penn State signee. “You’ve got to be on his hands all the time or he’s going to pick you apart, so it’s a real pain in the butt guarding him.”
Brownley was happy to delegate that pain to a teammate in a game that capped both players’ high school careers. The senior game, attached to the National All-Star Games weekend in Maryland, brought together 44 top players in the Class of 2021, representing 16 states and headed to 17 top college programs. Beyond a chance to play with standouts from across the country, the game was also an opportunity for teammates to become, for one night, opponents.
So it was for Peden, on the American team that won 17-15, and Brownley, representing the National squad. One of Brownley’s teammates was Eric Spanos, the Maryland-bound middie who had an assist.
Malvern Prep’s three participants tied New York powerhouse Chaminade for the most players in the game. Three schools – Taft School in Connecticut, Sacred Heart Prep of California and Long Island’s Shoreham-Wading River – had two players each.
It’s yet another measure of what a special season Malvern Prep, which finished No. 1 in the final Phillylacrosse.com rankings and won the Inter-Ac League championship, put together.
“Going into our season, we had huge expectations on our shoulders,” said Brownley, whose Friars finished No. 2 in the final Inside Lacrosse National HS Rankings. “At first we were kind of worried about just fulfilling them and dropped the first game of the season (to Archbishop Spalding), and from there, I think it motivated us to let loose and play free. Our hard work and how we let it all out there shows, and we’re proud to represent Malvern like that.”
The Malvern trio represented three-quarters of the Philadelphia delegation to the National Senior All-Star Game. They were joined by Matt Fritz of Wissahickon, the Ohio State-bound faceoff man. Peden got to play with two future Penn State teammates in Kevin Parnham (defenseman, Pingry School) and Jack Fracyon (goalie, Bullis School).
Penn had three players in the game, all on the Nationals: Midfielders Chris Canet (New Canaan, Ct.) and Tynan Walsh (La Jolla, Calif.) and attackman Ben Smith (Boys’ Latin, Md.)
All three Friars head to college in a matter of weeks. Spanos and Peden will encounter each other in Big Ten action, while Brownley is bound for Harvard. One last competition between them before they part ways is a fitting end.
“It’s a fun competition,” Brownley said, “and we’re all happy to be out here.”