Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/21/21
Practicing against each other, for club or for Malvern Prep, had gotten a little old for Will Peden.
After the wait through last year’s canceled season, and the myriad workouts and offseason activities the Friars planned to fill the time, getting back out there with Malvern Prep uniforms was a blessing.
Particularly given the hard-nosed, defensive identity the 2021 group is crafting, it’s easy to see why Peden was eager to play against someone else’s defense for a change.
Peden led Tuesday with a goal and four assists as the No. 1 Friars put on a defensive show against No. 2 Haverford School in a 12-4 Inter-Ac League showdown. From a stout defensive unit to a deep midfield rotation, the Friars kept the Fords attack silent.
“We love our ride,” Peden said. “That’s kind of what our game is about. So we practice that and we bring it to games and it’s nice going against people you don’t really know, because you can bring the lumber harder.”
The Malvern defense did plenty of that. Led by poles Jake Brownley, Michael “Pup” Buono, Luke Carden and Lucca DiBartolomeo and a cast of hard-nosed d-middies (Cooper Frankenheimer, Kellen Mathias and Sam Bevevino, among others) they muted the Fords’ attack.
Haverford scored just once in the first half, and by the time it showed signs of life with Geordy Holmes and Ryan DiRocco scoring 16 seconds apart, Malvern had already accumulated an 8-3 edge.
“We all work hard, and it’s easy to communicate if there’s something we’re not doing well together,” Buono said. “Having a good connection and working together in practice, we have a blue-collar mentality, so it’s pretty easy to go after it in practice and replicate it.”
“Something that they did very well today was they slid very early and they were showing, especially two of their shorties that we were trying to attack,” Holmes said. “When that happens, we just have to move the ball a lot better. We have to play as a team, and that’s something we’re going to work on the moment we get to practice.”
The Fords outshot Malvern, 29-28, but there was a big difference in the quality of chances. Even though Haverford won 15 of 19 draws, the Friars were comfortable without the ball thanks to their ability to turn Haverford over. Brownley in particular starred with his ability to press out and cause turnovers, especially in transition.
Chris O’Grady made eight saves in manning the first half. Joe Dougherty made six in the second.
That gave plenty of room for the Malvern attack to establish itself. Peden assisted on first-quarter goals by Joe Sheridan and Colin McGill. Eric Spanos scored on a swim move 49 seconds into the second quarter, then found Peden to make it 4-1 midway through the quarter.
The Friars poured in on with six third-quarter goals, many of them simple matchups against short-stick midfielders off the dodge. Jack Irish scored that way twice, and McGill tallied twice to go with an assist. His marker off a cross-field feed from Peden with 40 seconds left in the third might have been the pick of the lot. Alex Nikolic also scored twice.
“We have some young guys stepping up for sure. But we’ve been around,” Peden said. “We’ve got a nice group of six guys who’ve always been here, so it’s nice playing with them but we still have great young guys who come in and draw slides and move the ball. All of our players just need to play their roles and we’ll come away with wins.”
DiRocco scored twice for Haverford. Chuck Cacciutti stopped six shots. Adam Greenfield (7-for-10), Ben McCarthy (4-for-4) and Jake McCarthy (4-for-5) all excelled at the X.
Malvern Prep 12, Haverford School 4
Malvern 2-3-6-1- 12
Haverford 0-1-2-1 – 4
Spanos 1g, 1a
McGill 2g, 1a
Peden 1g, 4a
Sheridan 1g, 1a
Doherty 6 saves
O’Grady 6 saves
Brownly 4gbs, 1 forced turnover
Ryan DiRocco – 2g
Geordy Holmes – 1g
Brendan Leary – 1g
Michael Bozzi – 1a
Chuck Cacciutti – 6 Saves
Adam Greenfield – 4 GB’s