So very much lacrosse has happened since the last time a Super 7 was posted here, allowing time to form and reform again opinions about teams. In the end, I think things are pretty clear given the way they finished, but there difference from one team to another are so slight that you wonder how things may have been different given slight differences in seeding, etc. In any event, here goes the final hierarchy, which was in the paper alongside our All-Delco teams.
1. Penncrest (25-1)
What the Lions have accomplished this year is absolutely remarkable. They went from looking like world-beaters in the regular season to alarmingly mortal against Springfield in the District One quarterfinals. They scraped through the playbacks with an overtime winner, then weathered a tough Upper Dublin team in the fifth-place game in a contest delayed 22 hours due to storms. In states, they beat arguably the three best PIAA teams in District One runner up/Ches-Mont champ Bishop Shanahan, District 12 and reigning state champ La Salle and District One victor Avon Grove inside of two weeks. The attack led by Player of the Year Will Manganiello, Alex Bonnett and Drew Hanna was certainly the most potent in the county. Dylan Protesto, one of the best faceoff men in the country (!), is the ultimate X factor. This is a positioning that is richly deserved.
2. Haverford School (19-6)
OK, let’s get this little intellectual exercise in the transitive property out of the way: In early May, Haverford School bludgeoned La Salle 11-3. Penncrest only beat the Explorers by a one-goal margin in the PIAA quarterfinals. That tells me that Penncrest and Haverford School would have one heck of a game if they played. Protesto’s ability would change that game, but let’s not live in a hypothetical sphere. Instead, let’s look at what we do know. This team was one of the closest in the last month and change of the season to unseating Malvern Prep’s unbeaten run. An underclassmen-heavy team – junior All-Delcos Drew Supinski and Grant Ament, sophomores Dox Aitken andForry Smith, rapidly improving FOGOs Colin Bosak and Jake Hervada – returns what could be one of the strongest nuclei around.
3. Radnor (17-6)
The Raiders “lucked out” somewhat by dropping the District One third-place game to Springfield, shunting them out west for an easier road through the first two rounds of states. The rubber met the road in the semifinal against Avon Grove, though. Consider the difference between Nos. 1 and 3 in this ranking: In states, Radnor trailed Avon Grove 9-3 after three quarters; Penncrest led them 9-3. That’s a 12-goal margin. Wow. However the season finished, the Raiders have plenty of pieces returning, including All-Central goalie Alex Andersen, stud midfielders Jack Norton and Jack Wilson and All-American defender Mike Farnish. Don’t be surprised if there’s another states berth next season.
4. Springfield (18-5)
The Cougars were on the wrong side (that is, the right side on the scoreboard) of that District One third-place game, beating Radnor, 8-4. Their reward was a first-round date with La Salle, which didn’t go terribly well. There are a lot of pieces to replace for the Cougars – defenders John Ferguson and Joey Hoey, LSM Matt Quagliarello, midfielder Brian Todaro and both of the Charamellas. But they have a major piece back in Lucas Spence after a steady junior season where he didn’t quite play his best in the postseason. He’ll get to grow alongside Mike Gerzabek, who starred as a sophomore before a concussion cut his season short, and James Spence is quickly growing into one of the best goalies around. It’ll take a bunch of players stepping up to fill the holes, but the Cougars have potential.
5. Garnet Valley (15-6)
Speaking of playoff ‘what ifs’, you wonder how much different the Jags’ postseason could’ve been had Dylan Lee not gone down with a knee injury in the first round of districts. With Lee out and Christian Portale muted, it was a little too much for the Jags to fix on short notice. While Matt Moore is the headliner, the freshman class is deep. Jacob Buttermore showed well in midfield, and Denny Nealon is a name to watch in attack. It may take a year to reload across the board, but that class of 2017 nucleus plus sophomore goalie Michael Bonaddio has some good days ahead.
6. Ridley (14-5)
For a third straight season, the Green Raiders were forced to contemplate just how they couldn’t get past the second round of the District One tournament at home, dropping an overtime decision to Upper Dublin. (Their loss, plus Garnet Valley’s in the first playback round, could’ve severely hampered Penncrest’s path to the fifth and final states berth.). With this year’s senior class – featuring Matt Borchert, John Saunders, Lou Harrison – the pieces should’ve been there to take at least the next step and get a chance to play for states. The core that returns is young. Cade Heverly is a promising FOGO, and the attack should be in good hands with Cade Stratton and Brock Anderson. A reliable finisher will have to emerge, though, if they are to break that second-round districts jinx.
7. Episcopal Academy (8-13)
It wasn’t the best of years for the Churchmen. It’s fair to say they underachieved, and the gulf between them and Haverford School was fairly obvious in a 16-8 loss in the Inter-Ac Invitational semifinals. The bulk of this team is back – led by attacker Curtis Zappala, FOGO Christian Feliziani and most of the midfield and defense – with another year under its belt. Barring a large influx of talent and some misfortune elsewhere, that talent still may only place them as the third-best team in the league behind a loaded Haverford School and a Malvern Prep squad that loses some but retains a large chunk of its historic 2014 team.