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NLF Haverford School vs. Malvern Prep highlights courtesy of Max Mangigian.

It’s turned into the best rivalry in Philly, and depending on where you’re from, you could make an argument that it’s at the top nationally.


Haverford School vs. Malvern Prep always decides the Inter-Ac. That much is certain. But each program’s continued greatness means that there’s always even more than that at stake when they get together.

Tuesday’s showdown at Malvern featured two teams ranked in the top four of the first NLF high school rankings of the season. Haverford had a top-10 win to its name when it rolled two-time MIAA champion McDonogh. Malvern had a pair of top-10 wins by vanquishing MIAA powerhouse Boys’ Latin and Long Island titan St. Anthony’s.

Ultimately, it was the Fords who fired the first salvo in the 2024 edition of the rivalry. Senior Navy commit Aydan DiRocco snapped home a hat trick and senior goalie Brody Murphy (Richmond) backstopped Haverford with 12 saves as Haverford topped Malvern, 10-8. Senior Finn Lawrence (Boston University) notched the game-winner when he ripped home a pass from Jack Long (Michigan) with 10:59 to play.

The win was the Inter-Ac defending champions’ third straight regular-season wins over their archrivals. The rematch is set for May 2 at Haverford.

Definitely a Big Game

Haverford’s mantra is that there’s no such thing as a big game. The intensity, emotion and postgame jubilation that the Fords showed suggested otherwise. This one was personal, and it meant a lot.

“It’s definitely exciting,” DiRocco said. “We always say, ‘no big games,’ but this one always feels a little bit different. Emotions are definitely high, but I think we battled with that well. We just played really smart and I’m proud of our guys. We made a lot of gritty plays.”

That they did. DiRocco’s second goal of the game was one of them. Malvern got the ball back while down a man, but DiRocco and Long swarmed a clearing defenseman to knock the ball free. DiRocco got the ground ball, stepped back like he was going to slow things down and assess the situation, and then decided to rip a low-to-low blast.

Photo courtesy of Matt Chandik

Cooper Excels All over the Field

One of the biggest plays of the game came late in the third quarter. Five-star defenseman Gavin Cooper (Big 4 HHH / Duke), who might have been the best player on the field, sheared the ball out from a Malvern player’s stick at the top of the box. Fellow Blue Devil commit Connor Nolen scooped up the ground ball, ran coast-to-coast and buried his second of the game. When the Fords needed a play after the first quarter, they were generally the ones who got it.

“It’s been a goal of ours since last season when we lost to them (in the Inter-Ac playoff title game),” Cooper said. “This was definitely circled on our calendars, even though we say it’s not a big game.”

Cooper was an absolute force for the Fords. He’s as physically imposing a presence as there is in high school lacrosse. This year, though, he looks lighter on his feet, and there’s a noticeable improvement in his quickness. He gives the Fords a moveable chess piece with the ability to switch between LSM and close defense at a moment’s notice. Cooper must have had three or four caused turnovers, was a presence on the faceoff wings and played terrific defense throughout.

“I enjoy it a lot,” Cooper said of moving around all over the field. “I like the versatility and I don’t really feel like there’s too much of a difference in playing both positions. (The turnover that led to Nolen’s goal) is just one small play in the game. There were plenty of plays that others did that led up to it. I had a few plays that I wish I could have back, but that one definitely felt good.”

Malvern Eyes up a Rematch

The Friars came roaring out of the gates. Logan Turley (Big 4 HHH / Harvard) continued his superb junior campaign with a first-quarter hat trick. Turley’s an elite shooter out of the midfield, and that shooting ability and his size make him a mismatch against defenses.

Turley’s teammate and future Ivy League rival Nick Wehmeyer (Yale) was also a driving force behind Malvern’s early success. Wehmeyer finished 13-for-22 at the dot against an elite duo of Fords faceoff midfielders, and his 5-for-7 first quarter helped the hosts jump out to a 4-2 lead.

For Malvern, May 2 can’t get here fast enough.

Haverford School vs. Malvern Prep Standouts

Photo courtesy of Matt Chandik

Aydan DiRocco ’24, attack, Haverford School (Pa.) – Navy

DiRocco didn’t just lead Haverford in goals with a hat trick. It was when he got those goals that really helped set the tone for the Fords’ offense. He perfectly timed an off-ball cut and buried a feed terrific freshman Conor Morsell (more on him below) to give Haverford a 1-0 lead. Later, after Morsell scored to cut Malvern’s deficit to two, it was DiRocco and Jack Long (Michigan) who forced a turnover on a double team on the ride to get DiRocco the ball back. The future Midshipman obliged by pulling up and hammering a low-to-low rip to cut it to 5-4.

Finally, DiRocco and Morsell linked up for a carbon-copy of DiRocco’s first goal to bring Haverford even at 6. When the game looked like it might get away from the Fords early, it was the senior’s performance that helped them stay within striking distance. DiRocco’s a very savvy attackman who’s comfortable with or without the ball in his stick. He helps orchestrate a Haverford offense that doesn’t have one absolute monster that you have to worry about. Instead, everyone can beat you, and whomever feasts depends on the matchup that day.

Conor Morsell ’27, attack, Haverford School (Pa.) 

It’s so rare to see a freshman attackman even think of getting time at a program like Haverford, let alone start. Morsell is a different breed. A tall, lanky lefty, he always has his head up and has a very advanced IQ. He just has an innate feel for the game and thinks a play or two ahead. Morsell made a couple of high-IQ plays without making a statistical impact in a recent win over Taft (Conn.). Tuesday, he got his numbers. The two feeds to DiRocco were impressive. He also showed his touch around the cage, sneaking up and finishing a lovely feed from Max Fertels on the doorstep.

He’s already a pro at passing along the credit to his teammates, too.

“It’s just my teammates that have been helping me a lot. All around, just playing team offense and they’re helping me a lot,” Morsell said. “(My poise) is just my teammates helping me stay calm and (Brown commit) Brady (O’Kane) and Aydan being true leaders and helping me out.”

Griff Meyer ’25, faceoff midfield, Haverford School (Pa.) / Team 91 Maryland – Virginia

Five-star senior Ben McCarthy (Duke) uncharacteristically struggled for the Fords, so Haverford simply countered with one of the best faceoff men in the following class. First-world problems, to say the least. The Fords wouldn’t have won the game without Meyer giving them a big-time spark at the faceoff dot. The four-star junior went 7-for-12, including a 4-for-5 stretch that coincided with a 4-1 Fords run in the middle quarters. Built low to the ground with incredible strength and power, he was able to counter Nick Wehmeyer‘s lower-body strength and wrestling background to help Haverford get going.

Brody Murphy ’24, goalie, Haverford School (Pa.) – Richmond 

Having an excellent multi-year starting goalie might be the biggest luxury in high school lacrosse. Brendan Dawson has to be thrilled to have Murphy as the backbone of the defense, because it seems like the future Spider always comes up with the timely saves. In the fourth quarter, he made four saves, including two on five-star junior Duke commit Michael Ortlieb and one on four-star senior Brown verbal Ennis Udo. He also got a little help from his posts on a couple of occasions, but you’ve got to be good to be lucky.

All told, Murphy denied a dozen shots sent his way, perhaps none better than a back-to-back sequence early on. Malvern – more specifically Logan Turley – had his number early, but his poise and ability to bounce back showed off Murphy’s mettle. He made 10 of his 12 saves in the final three quarters. Not so coincidentally, Haverford won those quarters 8-4.

Connor Nolen ’24, midfield, Haverford School (Pa.) – Duke

What a fun player to watch. It seems like Nolen finds a different way to contribute every game. His game has matured, and he’s gone from an elite SSDM to an exceptional true two-way midfielder. The defensive chops are still there and he’ll find himself at D-mid in Durham. However, Nolen scored a pair of superb goals that showcased his offensive abilities. With his back to the cage, Nolen took a feed from Reece Childs (Big 4 HHH / Penn) and tossed in a no-look backhander while taking a hit to tie the game at 5 with 61 seconds to play in the first half.

It was his coast-to-coast tally that brought the Fords even for the final time before they pulled away. Five-star defenseman and Duke commit Gavin Cooper (Big 4 HHH) caused a turnover up top, and Nolen picked up the ground ball, ran down the field and hammered home his second of the game. The senior captain is as invaluable a player as there is in Philly.

Logan Turley ’25, midfield, Malvern Prep (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH – Harvard 

There’s a great case to be made that Turley’s been the most consistent offensive player for the Friars this seasom. He was certainly the most explosive one on Tuesday, particularly in the first quarter. At 6-3 and around 200 pounds with an explosive shooting stroke, Turley’s a problem for defenses to deal with. Haverford struggled to keep him in check in the opening frame when he snapped a hat trick home. Two came from the right wing, where he simply loaded the cannon and let it fly. On another, he got rolling downhill against a short-stick and buried a high-to-low shot into the corner. Turley’s play has gotten better and better over the past year.

Kyle Worsnup ’24, defense, Malvern Prep (Pa.) – Rutgers

Worsnup seems to be the glue that holds the Friars’ defense together. He’s ALWAYS talking and only knows one speed. He’s been playing in the system for so long that he knows it inside and out, and he did a good job of sliding and recovering. The future Scarlet Knight had an impressive sequence in the third quarter where he initiated a triple team that caused a turnover for the Friars. He’s making sure his last season as a Friar is his best one.

Nick Wehmeyer ’24, faceoff midfield, Malvern Prep (Pa.) – Yale 

Wehmeyer was outstanding at the faceoff stripe for the Friars, finishing the day 13-for-22 while facing two of the country’s top guys. He excelled against Ben McCarthy, which is rare to see. Wehmeyer is one of the Friars’ best wrestlers for a nationally-ranked program, and you can see that in how he faces off. He has good, not elite, hand speed, but it’s his scrappiness, toughness and lower body strength that help set him apart. Wehmeyer won five of his first seven faceoffs. In unrelated news, Malvern was up 4-2 after one quarter. The future Bulldog’s grittiness and no-nonsense mindset will fit him well in Andy Shay‘s program.