The interminable winter weather has abated just long enough to sneak in a round of lacrosse games Tuesday, and that slate was pretty revealing with what I think I can safely say is the entire Super 7 in action. So what to make of the early returns? Here are a few takeaways.
– Haverford School is off to a fast start. The Fords go through their usual who’s who of elite schools each year. This season, it’s resulted in wins over McDonough School and St. Paul’s, and the latest installment is Tuesday’s 14-9 triumph over Loyola Blakefield, coach John Nostrant’s 400th career win. This team has so very many weapons – from Drew Supinski to Dox Aitken to Grant Ament to Forry Smith and others – that it’s hard to envision a team holding them down for long. I’m not saying that Haverford School is going to do what Malvern Prep did last season in going undefeated. But if they do, I’ll make sure I point to his line as a pseudo-prediction.
– Episcopal Academy is no slouch, either. There are impressive nonleague wins, and then there’s what EA did to St. Joseph’s Prep Tuesday. That would be a 16-2 win. That’s 16-2, against a team that’s perennially among the top teams in the area. Last year’s EA team was too often an attack of Curtis Zappala and nothing else. This season, with Eric Haab and Connor Ringwalt and Jake Martellucci presenting as options, Zappala’s game can really flourish, showcasing his distributing as well as his finishing (as the four goals and five assists attest). Plus, Christian Feliziani going 15-for-20 at the X shows just how much is game has blossomed.
– The Central League this season is going to be very different that last year. In 2014, Penncrest was head and shoulders the class of the league. Radnor and Springfield made their way to states. This season, the early indications are that the league could be more balanced and more competitive top to bottom. Penncrest took time to separate itself from Harriton. Strath Haven notched an early win over Springfield. Garnet Valley downed Radnor. Haverford and Marple produced a memorable encounter. There are going to be some very entertaining battles in the weeks ahead.
– Garnet Valley makes an early statement. The marquee matchup of the first day of games was certainly the Jaguars’ 11-7 win over Radnor. For all the talent on the field, the game was controlled from the outset by Matt Moore (two goals, two assists), and he may be one of the best players in the area as just as sophomore. With Denny Nealon, Jacob Buttermore and Gray McKee back in the fold and Dylan Lee recovered from his knee injury, the Jags are poised for big things. How the Raiders’ attack shapes up around Jack Wilson, Jack Norton and Drew Ryan is going to be an interesting question.
– Penncrest picked up where it left off, sort of. Will Manganiello was the Daily Times player of the year last season, but the returns of Ryan Kinnard, Alex Bonnett and Drew Hanna show that the Lions can make up much of that offensive burden. Trying to replicate Dylan Protesto’s presence at the X, though, may prove more elusive, and the high-scoring nature of their 20-12 win over Harriton indicates a team less able to dictate possession for long stretches as they did last year.
– Don’t sleep on Strath Haven. The Panthers’ young core notched an impressive opening foray with a last-minute downing of Springfield, 7-6. Jake Ross, Jack Borbee and Jonah Tate stepped up, representing a quickly maturing nucleus. It was obvious that Springfield would have to replace some big pieces from last year’s states run, and that process may take a handful of games to yield results.
– There are plenty of game-changing talents throughout the Central League. Marple Newtown’s Tyler Kostack, who scored three goals Tuesday, is touted as an emerging talent, and he was outdone by teammate Tom Higgins (four goals, one assist) in the 9-8 loss to Haverford. For the Fords, Bob McClure scored three goals to go with three assists. Then there’s Ridley, which demolished Upper Darby behind 13 goalscorers. Decent start all around.
– Lucas Spence is good at lacrosse. OK, that’s not new. But the All-Delco and Lehigh signee who is in what feels like his seventh high school season (and that’s a compliment) tallied his 200th career point Tuesday. That’s a lot of production.
– Keep an eye on Bonner-Prendergast. OK, so they didn’t play Tuesday. But it’s an excuse to use some art from Monday’s win over Upper Darby. The Friars are off to a quick start this season, and for all the attacking talent they possess, the real driving force may be faceoff man Ronnie Shiler, who was dominant at the X Monday.