Boys Lacrosse: Katie Samson Roundup

Radnor's Mike Cherry, right, and the Red Raiders needed overtime to escape Downingtown West, 7-6, at the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival. TIMES STAFF/JULIA WILKINSON

Radnor’s Mike Cherry, right, and the Red Raiders needed overtime to escape Downingtown West, 7-6, at the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival.
TIMES STAFF/JULIA WILKINSON

Man, what a day. I covered a girls game as the main story, but here’s a quick roundup of what happened at Katie Samson this past Saturday. I caught bits and pieces of some games, heard great things about the ones I didn’t and it seems like the event was a huge success again.

Robert Raucci delivers in the clutch…again

As you can see in the earlier link, all Raucci did was score his fifth game-winning goal of the season, two of which have come in overtime, in a 6-5 double OT win over St. Augustine Prep (N.J.). That’s pretty ridiculous. Raucci hasn’t put up the sheer numbers that others have, but you’d be hard-pressed to come up with someone who’s come through time and time again in the clutch like the Garnet Valley senior has. The Saint Joseph’s signee always seems to be in the thick of things when it matters the most for the Jaguars.

“I’ve got to give credit to our defense, our goalie Mitch Rose and our faceoff guys Mike Lanham and Zach Penfil because without them we would not have the opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net,” Raucci said. “(Lanham and Penfil) give us extra possessions to allow us to do that and the ball has just luckily been able to just bounce my way at the end of games and in overtime.”

Luck, skill, fate, whatever you want to call it. There’s something to be said for Raucci’s ability to come through when he’s needed the most. GV’s offense isn’t one of the most explosive in the area, but it doesn’t have to be because the Jaguars can grind wins out with solid goaltending, a dynamic duo at the faceoff X and slow, methodical possessions.

Radnor keeps finding a way to win

That’s generally the mark of a senior-laden team. The Red Raiders have claimed eight straight wins in games that have ranged from blowouts (Upper Darby, Conestoga, Haverford, Harriton) to squeakers (one-goal wins over Abington and Downingtown West, a huge two-goal win over Ridley and a two-goal win over upset-minded Strath Haven).

Like pretty much everyone else in the league, Radnor won’t burn out bulbs on the scoreboard, but there are no glaring weaknesses on the team. From front to back, the Red Raiders are the best team in the PIAA this side of La Salle, so the best public school team, and they’re battle-tested after making a run to the state semis last year.

Tom Hemcher was the OT hero against the Whippets in a 7-6 win, but it’s the balanced scoring that’s fun to watch. Eight players recorded a point in the game, including a goal and two assists from Peter Donato, and Jake Shapiro continued his domination at the faceoff X with a 12-for-15 day. Brendan Manderack stoned seven shots.

I’d be flat-out stunned if this team doesn’t make a deep postseason run.

Radnor’s good, but beware of…

Springfield. The two teams tangle Tuesday in a game that could force a four-way tie for second place if the Cougars win. That’s a definite possibility as they’ve claimed six of their past seven games and took out a strong Hatboro-Horsham team, 6-4. The Hatters are undefeated in league play and could win the Suburban One league, so beating them was huge for Springfield.

Coach Tom Lemieux singled out Dan Smyth‘s play on H-H midfielder Jimmy Murphy as a big reason behind the win. Smyth has repeatedly earned rave reviews all season along from coaches across the league, so it wasn’t all that surprising to see the St. John’s signee hold Murphy to one assist. I’m looking forward to seeing Smyth play soon to see if the hype matches the substance which, by all accounts, it does.

Vince Marra might be one of the few that can match Raucci’s ability to score in big games. Marra had the OT winner against Penncrest and fired in the tiebreaking and insurance markers against H-H. Dan Dickinson‘s game-tying goal was huge, too. Marra and Lucas Spence seem to have a special type of chemistry and that type of familiarity can pay big dividends in the long run.

Cardinal O’Hara’s coming along

The Lions lost to La Salle in convincing fashion and are heavy underdogs against St. Joseph’s Prep tomorrow, but they’ve done a tremendous job of establishing themselves as the Catholic League’s third-best team. Officially, that title will have to wait until O’Hara plays Archbishop Ryan, but regardless, it’s a big step forward.

The Lions put forth a convincing win over Shipley at KSF, 12-2, thanks to four goals and an assist from Joe Simpson and four points from T.J. ReileyJim DeRose‘s bunch has done a fantastic job of getting better this year. Even most of their losses have been competitive with a two-goal loss to Springfield and a four-goal loss to then-red hot Penn Charter. I’m intrigued by what this team can bring to the table in the near future.

Episcopal Academy just keeps rolling

This is when you start seeing the fruits of being a senior-heavy team. Ian Strain misses the game against Lawrenceville School? No problem. Garrett Walling scores his second straight hat trick and Tyler Chambers goes nuts for seven points. I caught the better part of the second half and even though Andy Hayes‘ group wasn’t its usual stingy self on defense, it’s a team that’s becoming scarier offensively every game.

Six players had multiple points against Lawrenceville, paced by Chambers’ 7-spot and freshman Peter Gayhardt‘s four-goal outburst. Chambers has solidified himself as one of the state’s best midfielders by doing a little bit of everything for EA this year, especially when Walling and Tyler Haab were out with injuries. But since they’ve been back, Chambers’ effectiveness has been at a higher level because he can come off the field for a breather instead of simply sliding to attack like he had been.

“We know that we can always count on each other, even if one us is playing bad,” Chambers said. “It was Garrett’s second game back. Had a hat trick today, had four goals (on four shots) against (Germantown Academy), so we can really count on anybody to make big plays. (Walling’s and Tyler Haab’s return) is really great. It’s like a little weight lifted off your shoulders, but you still know you need to muscle through it.”

Gayhardt is the wild card for EA. The roster claims he’s merely a freshman, but take a look at the hulking figure in the middle of the Churchmen’s attack and you’d think otherwise. He lists himself at 6-5, 215 pounds, but there’s even more room for him to fill out. Against Lawrenceville, he showed a deft shooting touch and a nose for the net. He’s already got 23 goals this year, so his impact has been big both figuratively and literally for EA.

“All the seniors have been helping me out a lot,” Gayhardt said. “Dutch Buckley and (sophomore) Curtis Zappala have been great. (Hayes) has been real good, not riding me too hard, so it’s been good. (The balanced offense) helps a lot because we know that every time we pass someone the ball, they’re capable of finishing and they’re capable of passing us the ball and we’re capable of finishing, too. We even have some D guys who can run the field and set up hockey assists for goals.”

Haverford School’s not about to play the youth card

Midfielder Timmy Brooks of The Haverford School prepares to unleash a howitzer against La Salle. PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA AMENT

Midfielder Timmy Brooks of The Haverford School prepares to unleash a howitzer against La Salle.
PHOTO COURTESY OF LISA AMENT

The Fords fell, 11-9, in the most touted game of the day to La Salle. Unfortunately for them, they fell behind early and never could quite make a comeback. They got close when Peter Blynn sniped a high shot right under the crossbar and Gavin McBride scored off the ensuing faceoff, but a Sean Coleman goal ended that rally to deal THS its third loss in four games. That included an incredible 80-yard goal from La Salle’s Stefan Bergman, one that the Fords would love to forget.

McBride has been on two of the Fords’ best teams ever and now that he’s a senior, he probably didn’t expect to play on a team that already has as many losses this year as the previous three years combined. John Nostrant‘s group could play the youth card in this rebuilding  reloading year, but McBride bristled at the mention.

“We’ve talked about growing pains, but I think we’ve got to stop talking about that,” said McBride, who had a hat trick against the Explorers. “We’ve played more than half our season. I think we should start to get out of that funk anytime soon and start playing hard as a unit.”

With the second spin around the Inter-Ac starting tomorrow, McBride’s words might be just on time.

No information on the Haverford High-Archbishop Carroll game was reported to the Daily Times.

– MATT CHANDIK

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