It’s the best or the worst feeling, depending on which side of the ball you’re on.
For Episcopal Academy in Friday’s 19-4 rout of Inter-Ac League foe Germantown Academy, it was definitely the former when the Churchmen started scoring. They knew that nearly every time they found the back of the net, they’d get the ball back thanks to Andrew McMeekin, and that’s absolutely deadly for an offense.
For a defense, though, there might not be anything more deflating. The Princeton commit, ranked No. 16 overall in the 2022 class and the No. 2 faceoff man in the land by NLFRankings.com, couldn’t be stopped. He piled up 14 wins in 17 attempts at the X, including a 12-for-14 first half, and snapped home two goals for good measure.
Make It, Take It
McMeekin is physically put together like a college junior, and he uses that strength and power to go along with quick hands and a bevy of moves to keep his opponents guessing. That’s not even enough for him. He’s more than comfortable with pushing the pace in transition after his wins, something that makes him a perfect fit as the Tigers’ future faceoff man.
“Once you get a few under the belt, I just know that I’m on a hot streak and I should probably be winning all of them at that point,” McMeekin said. “When we get it, our team can just get the ball moving and just kind of have it be make it, take it. (Shooting off of wins) definitely opens things up. Once they see that I’m a legitimate threat, it opens up that point man, which we saw when we got a few tic-tac-toes on the L break. Take it if they’re playing you, dump it if not.”
McMeekin is more than just speedy hands and always going forward. He did an excellent job of keeping GA’s wing men off-balance by using different moves and putting the ball wherever he wanted to, whether that meant going backward or sideways to his wing guys or going forward.
“We definitely work a lot on it in practice and I coordinate with my wings before the game and before the faceoff,” said McMeekin, who also added an assist. “If I tell you to go here, do it because it’s for a reason. If I send it back on a few, they have to start covering that instead of cutting off the fast break. That can open up some more fast breaks.”
— Matt Chandik (@MChandik26) May 7, 2021
All Gas, No Brakes for EA
EA didn’t always need the fast break to get things done, though. The Churchmen got on the board 23 seconds into the game with the first of five goals from junior Tristan Whitaker (Vermont). The Patriots took a 2-1 lead off of goals from Jack Luviano and Jack Liss (Big 4 HHH), but then it was all EA, all the time. Whitaker scored again and Max Strid (Trinity football) followed it up 15 seconds later with his first.
By the end of the onslaught, the Churchmen had ripped off 14 straight goals with six players tallying at least once, including a spectacular low-to-high rip from McMeekin. EA’s off-ball cuts and precise feeds kept a young GA defense off-balance, and the end result was a far cry from the teams’ first meetings. The Patriots jumped out to a 4-0 lead in that game before EA came back with 10 of the next 11 goals. This time was never in doubt.
“Everybody was moving on offense,” Whitaker said. “We got the ball to the pipes and just kept moving. A lot of pick plays, which worked out a lot. On my first shot, I had so much room and stepped in and took it.”
That movement paid major dividends for the Churchmen, who stayed in second place in the league in a tie with rival Haverford. On the flip side, it gave the Patriots a road map of what they’ll be seeing more, and what they have to work on.
“Their offense was really moving off-ball a lot, and I think we struggled to rotate,” GA pole and NLF No. 30 ’23 Walker Schwartz said. “They were really fighting on the offensive side, but we’ll bounce back next time. We have three sophomores starting on defense and I think these (Inter-Ac) teams move it fast. They’ve got a lot of commits and they really move it fast, so just practicing and communicating can only help us in the future.”
Episcopal Academy-Germantown Academy Standouts
Dylan Jascsz ’24, attack, Episcopal Academy / Brotherly Love (Highlights)
At times, it felt like EA was using only lefties out there. Between Jascsz, TJ Lamb (see below) and Reilly Dugan (Big 4 HHH / Villanova), the Churchmen had a ton of southpaw firepower. Jascsz is the youngest, but he might end up being the best of the three, which is saying something. So smooth and poised with the ball in his stick, the freshman is EA’s leading scorer, and he filled up the stat sheet to the tune of a hat trick and an assist. He’s a very savvy player who knows how to get open, and he’s a legit shooter with great mechanics.
“Just from game one, he plays under control. He’s consistent. He doesn’t try to do too much and he’s skilled and unafraid. He’s just a gamer. It’s been fun to watch him develop,” EA head coach Chris Bates said.
TJ Lamb ’23, attack, Episcopal Academy / PA Roughriders (Highlights)
Lamb and Jascsz clearly have great chemistry, with the former setting up two of the latter’s goals and Jascsz returning the favor on Lamb’s lone marker. Lamb dished out three assists on the day, and he does such a nice job of not forcing the ball. Instead, he opted for smart, savvy plays that got his guys open. Lamb’s 6-3 frame suggests that he’s got plenty of room to continue filling out, and as he adds that size, he’ll be an even more dangerous dodger. He also showed his shooting range with a lethal stepdown bomb from top center to cap a six-goal first quarter from EA.
Walker Schwartz ’23, LSM, Germantown Academy / Big 4 HHH – NLF No. 30 ’23 (Highlights)
Schwartz showed off many of the traits that made him a four-star pole in the initial NLF 2023 rankings. He was the Patriots’ most active defender all game long, and while the whole group struggled with Episcopal’s crisp off-ball movement, Schwartz’s stickwork helped GA get the ball back on a few occasions. He’s extremely tenacious with precise checks, and he had a handful of really impressive ground balls. His Tier I hockey background is very evident in his game, including on one ground ball where he goosed it to himself around an attackman and snatched it up five yards down field. Schwartz was a presence on the faceoff wings, too, with two ground balls off the faceoff and as much pressure as he could put on EA’s faceoff men.
“It’s been a lot. I think my conditioning’s gotten a lot better, but I’m also staying aware when I’m tired, too,” Schwartz said. “I can keep playing all the time and keep pushing for ground balls. (My strengths are) I think I can get the late-game GBs to win it and I can push in transition.”
Max Strid ’21, attack, Episcopal Academy / Trinity (football)
Strid plays at attack very much how you’d expect a 6-2, 245-pound All Inter-Ac football defensive lineman to play. There’s not a ton of finesse to his game, but there shouldn’t be, especially with more skill-based offensive presences around him to handle that finesse. Strid buried a hat trick for the Churchmen, including a rip when he came above GLE and also a nice transition dunk from Whitaker. The big man showed soft hands, and there aren’t many, if any, Inter-Ac defensemen who can bully him around physically.
‘23 TJ Lamb just capped the quarter with a nice step down from top center off of a ‘24 Dylan Jaszcz assist. pic.twitter.com/I8lMVJN1QK
— Matt Chandik (@MChandik26) May 7, 2021
Tristan Whitaker ’22, midfield, Episcopal Academy / Mesa / NXT / Vermont (Highlights)
Bombs away. Whitaker’s reputation as a shooter precedes him, but GA couldn’t stop the future Catamount from having his way from the wings. His first goal came 23 seconds into the game when nobody slid to him and he absolutely eviscerated the far corner. He had an absolutely gorgeous low-to-high rocket off the wing as part of a five-goal, two-assist day, but he also made a particularly nifty feed to Strid in transition for an easy goal. Whitaker packs a ton of power into his shot, as evidenced on a number of his goals but perhaps none more so than on a beastly stepdown rip off of a Reilly Dugan assist.
“I kind of just stare down the corner where I’m going to shoot and let it rip. (The ball movement) frees up my hands so much, especially in this game,” Whitaker said. “That movement got my hands free, which is so important for shooting.”
EPISCOPAL ACADEMY 19,
GERMANTOWN ACADEMY 4
Episcopal Academy 6 7 3 3 – 19
Germantown Academy 2 0 1 1 – 4
Tristan Whitaker 5 goals, 2 assists
Dylan Jaszcz 3 goals, 1 assist
Max Strid 3 goals
Reilly Dugan 2 goals, 2 assists
Andrew McMeekin 2 goals, 1 assist, 14-for-17 faceoffs
Charlie Kraftson 2 goals, 1 assist
TJ Lamb 1 goal, 3 assists
Flynn Kearney 1 goal
Sam Malloy 2 assists
Billy Adams 2 assists
Nash Womack 11 saves
Will Hohn 5-for-7 faceoffs
Reece Hickey 2-for-3 faceoffs
Jack Luviano 2 goals, 1 assist
Jack Liss 2 goals
Brendan Donnelly 14 saves
Dean Shacklett 4-for-16 faceoffs
Declan Connaughton 2-for-6 faceoffs
Jamie McGrath 0-for-5 faceoffs