All-Delco will be released tomorrow, but here’s the Super 7 just a little bit ahead of time with explanations as to why every team is ranked where it is. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter is @MattChandik to let me know how horrendously wrong I am. Anyway, here we go.
1. The Haverford School (15-7) Inter-Ac Invitational champions
Hey, look who’s back on top of the Delco lacrosse world. Who remembers that 0-3 start now? Yeah, didn’t think so. John Nostrant got his team to peak at the right time and the Fords responded by beating Episcopal Academy to deny the Churchmen a split Inter-Ac title, then beating them again in the Inter-Ac Invitational semifinals before upsetting Malvern Prep in the final. The win over the Friars made a champion of Kip Taviano, who died in a car crash six days later.
The scariest part about Haverford’s run, though, is that much of it was based on youngsters coming of age quickly. Seniors Gavin McBride and Reilly Hupfeldt finished strong, but Nostrant brings back the likes of Grant Ament, Connor Keating, Peter Blynn, Drew Supinski, Connor Black and goalie Alex DeMarco. All DeMarco did in four starts was beat EA twice and outduel two-time Malvern Prep All-American Matt Barrett. The Fords are the team to beat, perhaps even nationally, in 2014…and 2015…and maybe 2016, too.
2. Episcopal Academy (15-6) Inter-Ac Invitational semifinalist
It sure didn’t end the way it was supposed to for EA, but the Churchmen were still among the Philadelphia-area elite all year long. Tyler Chambers had a big breakout year, Ian Strain was fantastic when healthy and Trupert Ortlieb quietly put together an All-American year. Kevin Gayhardt stamped his name among any list of top defenders nationally with a shutdown season. Colin Reder emerged as a multi-year starter candidate with a save percentage better than 60 percent and fellow 2015 Curtis Zappala recovered from a bad concussion to blossom into a multi-dimensional attackman.
You could make an argument that either 6-5 attackman Peter Gayhardt or Radnor’s Jack Wilson were the best freshman in Delco. All Gayhardt did was post a 42-goal season (with no assists, so no, you may NOT have the ball. Don’t ask.) and show soft hands as a crease man. He and Zappala could be a fantastic offensive duo down the road. Coach Andy Hayes will need them to be after graduating a whopping 17 seniors.
3. Garnet Valley (18-7) PIAA quarterfinalist
I’ve been calling GV the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde team for a while now and boy, were the Jaguars on during the postseason. They always found a way to make things happen somehow. Jonathan Vandenberg was in the business of scoring clutch goals and business was good. Robert Raucci erupted for 72 points this year and Frank Urso put together his finest coaching job since taking over at GV, especially with a season-ending injury to his son and starting midfielder, Vail, and the death of Taviano, a Glen Mills resident who had played with many of the Jaguars in their younger days.
Mike Lanham and Zach Penfil were an unstoppable duo at the faceoff X, while Mitch Rose blossomed in his senior season between the pipes for GV. The Jaguars have to replace a ton of seniors like all of the aforementioned players and Brock D’Annunzio, who enjoyed a breakout year, Steve Elf, an All-Delco linebacker who was a punishing defenseman and a slew of others. However, the faceoff X is in good hands with star-in-the-making Daniel Lanham and Jake Matier should lead what figures to be a strong defense.
4. Radnor (18-5) PIAA first round
The Red Raiders got a terrible draw out of the gate for the state tournament as they were rewarded for beating Conestoga by having to face La Salle. That’s the PIAA bracketing system, kids. On paper, I think Radnor was the most talented PIAA Delco team, but it’s impossible to rank the Red Raiders ahead of Garnet Valley when the Jaguars beat them in districts and made it further.
There wasn’t much of a dropoff at the faceoff X after Mike Barnes graduated in 2012 and that’s because Jake Shapiro was tremendous this season. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Radnor had the best goalie in the county in Brendan Manderack. The senior Drexel signee stopped 60.5 percent of his shots and gave the Red Raiders a chance to beat La Salle. Peter Donato had an unbelievable season as he and Manderack were tabbed as All-Americans and co-Central League MVPs. Defensively, Tom Farnish had a strong end to the season and he, Danny Michaelson and Sam Camp were leaders for what may have been the best defensive group in Delco. The most talented player on that defense, though, might be Mike Farnish. The 2015 defenseman could use a little more consistency – he’s young. What do you expect? – but I’d be stunned if he’s not an All-American at least once in his career. He and Jack Wilson, a top 2016, give John Begier a nice foundation to work with.
5. Springfield (13-8) District One playback
The Cougars get ahead of Ridley by virtue of having beaten the Green Raiders and making it further in the postseason. Steve Halko had a strong end to the year, especially in the playoffs, and 2015 Lucas Spence emerged as one of the county’s best attackmen by leading Delco with 44 assists. FOGO Mark Gurenlian finished strong, too, and Dan Smyth was a consistent defensive force all season long. Tom Lemieux routinely matched Smyth up against the other team’s best scorer, almost always with great results.
Goalie Jeremy Cavanaugh battled through late injuries and posted an 11-save effort in the season finale. The goalie picture next year is murky with Cavanaugh gone. Expect a three-way battle between Nick Baratelle, who got his feet this year, Danny Korinth (the junior varsity MVP) and 2017 James Spence, Lucas’ younger brother who is already garnering serious praise. Whoever gets the job will be fortunate to have Matt Quagliariello and John Ferguson in front of him.
6. Ridley (15-5) District One second round
It’s a shame that Dalton George couldn’t avoid the injury bug this season because if he had, Ridley might have been a completely different team. Case in point: his hat trick against Avon Grove in the season finale. The Green Raiders uncharacteristically broke down defensively in that game, though. Aside from that, Ridley was its traditionally-stingy self defensively. Tom McDermott turned in a tremendous save percentage of better than 65 percent. He was very good and very consistent and it sure didn’t hurt that he had the likes of Nick Eufrasio, John Saunders, John Lyman, Mark Pascetta and Mike Cropper in front of him. Oh, and having one of the best defensive midfielders around in All-Central and All-EPLCA pick Mike Crowley is a big boost, too.
Kelton Heverly led the team with 46 points, but the Green Raiders weren’t able to get one main scoring threat to emerge. That’s been a concern for a few seasons and it remains to be seen whether that changes next year. I really think that Matt Borchert can carry the torch next year. He’s got tremendous potential and figures to be at the center of the Ridley offense next year.
7. Penncrest (14-6) District One second round
By the time his career is over, it’s going to feel like Will Manganiello will have been in high school for the better part of a decade. He’s been scoring goals – quite a few of them, actually – since very early on in his career. This year, he snapped home 47 to claim All-American honors. You’d like to see him be a little more consistent at times, especially off-ball, but there’s no denying his tremendous shooting ability.
Dylan Protesto had a great year, going better than 65 percent at the faceoff X and scoring 28 goals. He and Manganiello are the foundation for the Lions’ future, a future that looks pretty darn bright. They’ll be helped by stud 2016 defenders Ryan Granger and Ryan Schultz and assuming Drew Hanna heals up nicely from a lacerated spleen, there’s no reason why Penncrest can’t be a fixture atop the Central League. Losing guys like Christian Mayer and Sean Mingey will hurt, but players like Liam O’Donnell, Alex Bonnett and Rob Logan will be a boost.