Quaker LaxFest Draws Host of College Coaches
by Paul Edwards and Chris Goldberg | Phillylacrosse.com
Denver men's lacrosse coach Bill Tierney soaks in the talent among the 16 high school club teams competing Sunday at the Quaker LaxFest.
© Kevin P. Tucker
RADNOR, Pa. -- More than 100 college coaches representing 70 programs watched as 16 of the top boys' club teams in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond competed Sunday in the inaugural Quaker Fall LaxFest at Radnor High.
The group of teams included six Philly powers -- Duke's Lacrosse Club, Mesa Fresh 2010, Team HEADstrong, Rebel Elite, LB3 and Twist and Mesa Fresh 2011 -- and other top teams from New York, New Jersey and Maryland, as well as Edge from Ontario, Canada. The recruiting tournament drew hundreds of spectators and college coaches from the likes of two-time defending national champion Syracuse, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Princeton, North Carolina, Penn, Penn State, Army, Brown, Bryant, Delaware, Denver, Drexel, Georgetown, Hobart, Hofstra, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Navy, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Towson and Villanova.
The other club teams in the tourney were Edge USA, Central New York Roadhawks, Long Island Express, Long Island Sting, MadLax (Washington D.C.), Maryland RoughRiders and Tri-State (N.J.).
The event was organized by Radnor coach John Begier and Penn coach Mike Murphy, a Radnor resident. The event, which benefited Radnor High lacrosse, came three days before seniors can sign National Letters of Intent to play at Division I colleges.
LB3 goalie Dino Vitale, a senior from Hatboro-Horsham, said his goal was to have fun. “People try too hard to get recruited at these tournaments," he said. "I was just trying to have fun.” Vitale is still exploring all his options when it comes to college, but said he is “primarily concerned with academics.”
The coaches of LB3, J.P. and John “Old Man” Banks, both said they simply wanted their team “to play well and to try to have some fun while playing.”
Team HEADstrong was 1-2 on the day, but the team’s message was not lost in translation. “The thing I like about playing for HEADstrong is that we raise money for cancer,” said Duke recruit Henry Lobb, a senior long stick midfielder from Malvern Prep. Junior LSM Goran Murray, who is committed to Maryland, had one specific goal in mind: “I wanted to work on my one-on-one defense.”
The nationally-ranked Duke's Lacrosse Club used a young lineup and was more concerned with getting new players experience. “We brought our developmental team,” said Duke’s coach Jason Christmas. “The team is mostly made up of freshmen who have recently tried out for and made our team. They were out-muscled by the older teams.”
Rebel Elite’s team featured UNC recruit Joey Sankey, a junior attackman at Penn Charter. Sankey and linemates Colin Joka (Plymouth Whitemarsh junior), Tyler White (Penn Charter junior), and Bill Oppenheimer (Germantown Academy sophomore) were excited to be together.
“We were really looking forward to playing with each other,” Sankey said. “We wanted to have fun, and hopefully get some looks.”
Mesa Fresh 2010 went 3-0, defeating Edge Srs. (10-8), Twist (5-2) and Edge Jrs. (12-7).
“We played very well,” said Mesa Fresh coach Dan Altschuler. “We were strong on both sides of the ball; we had tremendous defense and great goaltending.
“We were a little bit stagnant in our second game, but besides that we moved the ball beautifully and we had very unselfish play as usual.”
Altschuler said the event was a success and should help many players in the recruiting scene. Long Island Express (No. 1), Duke’s Lacrosse (No. 3), Tri-State (No. 5), MadLax (No. 6) and Roadhawks (No. 9) were all ranked in the Top 10 in the final Inside Lacrosse club rankings this summer.
“It was an excellent event,” he said. “It was one of the best-run events, and tremendously attended. The coaches were lining the field, so I have to believe that’s going to bear a lot of fruits for a lot of kids.
“There also were a lot of kids from out of the area and that adds validity to the event. I thought the level of competition was very good.”
Twist held its own despite playing with only juniors. Twist opened with a 7-6 triumph over Team HEADstrong, fell to Mesa Fresh 2010, 5-2, and then tied Canada’s Edge.
Twist was led by goalies John Lawlor and Karl Wiszumerski, face-off man Sean Reilly (Central Bucks East), Beau Jones (Germantown Academy) at attack, Dylan Swope (Owen J. Roberts), Luke Dachowski (Central Bucks South), Ryan Whitney (CB East) and Reid Weber on midfield, and Zac Bitzer (CB East), Bobby Tait (Germantown Academy) and Dave Duryea (Perkiomen Valley) on defense.
“Without any practices since July, the team as a whole played great,” said Twist coach Jack Devlin. “The defense really held their own against top-10 teams in the nations; the slides and recoveries worked great.
“The midfield pushed the ball up the field, which translated into many scoring opportunities for us. The attack work great with the ball as well as off ball to help control the momentum of the game. We were very pleased in both our goalies as the faced shots from seniors of top teams in the area and from Canada.
The Division I coaches were pleased with the format of the event and caliber of the teams.
Gerry Byrne, a Notre Dame assistant, was attracted to the event because of the “great concentration of talent. It’s a well-run event. Mike Murphy and John Begier did a great job.”
Princeton first-year head coach Chris Bates, the former coach at Drexel, was there to check up on a few recruits, but wasn’t limiting himself. “I am here to see a few juniors we are recruiting, but trying to keep my eye out for others,” he said. “You want a stocked pond when you go fishing.”
Lehigh coach Kevin Cassese said he has recruited many players from the teams competing.. “We often recruit players from these teams,” he said. “There are a lot of good teams here today and this is a great location.”