Follow the NLF on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.After Brody Murphy had made the last of his 13 saves and the ball flew onto the St. Anthony’s end of the field, the clock at The Haverford School hit zeroes and a flurry of gold helmets came together in celebration of the Fords’ 16-15 win over the Friars.
A raucous crowd of more than 1,500 people roared their approval on a picturesque day that served as the perfect backdrop for a tilt of this magnitude. The atmosphere befitted a showdown between two of the nation’s top teams, with the NLF No. 4 Fords dealing the top-ranked Friars their first loss of the year via a 16-15 decision.
Titans like this don’t usually meet in nonleague games in May. Thankfully, they did, because this one more than lived up to the hype. Ben McCarthy, the NLF’s No. 2-ranked junior, won 21-of-31 faceoffs, including a 13-for-15 performance in the first half for Haverford. On the flip side, Owen Duffy, the NLF’s No. 3-ranked senior, countered with an insane five-goal, three-assist performance for the Friars, scoring goals in almost any way possible.
Balanced Offense Does it Again for Haverford
Ultimately, though, the Fords’ diverse arsenal came through just enough. Ryan DiRocco, a four-star Army recruit, led the way with three goals and an assist. Delaware verbal Brady O’Kane also had a hat trick, as did Air Force commit Wells Flinn. Nine players recorded points and McCarthy’s faceoff wizardry left the Friars without the ball for minutes at a time.
“It was pretty amazing to play with all of my teammates and watch every single one of them go as hard as they can,” McCarthy said. “We earned an opportunity to play in this game through how hard we work in the offseason. I think how we worked in practice and in the games all year is why we earned the win. I’m just really excited to celebrate with my guys. We know the season’s not over and we have to keep working. I’m just going to enjoy every second that I have left with this team.”
Good luck trying to figure out how to stop this team, and it was one that was without the services of its top offensive player in four-star senior midfielder Wills Burt (Virginia). Duffy gave the Friars a 1-0 lead with a lefty rope off of a nasty right-to-left split down the alley, then set up Team 91 Long Island teammate Jack Ponzio (Navy) for a goal. It was the last time St. Anthony’s led.
Unmatched Chemistry for the Fords
DiRocco cranked home a high-to-high shot, followed by alley goals from both Flinn and Colin Zeller (Rutgers) for a 4-2 Haverford lead. Three goals in 56 seconds, and all the gas that the Fords needed. McCarthy dominated the faceoff stripe, spraying the ball around to his wing men and pushing the pace in transition. He didn’t factor in scoring-wise, but the threat that he provides off the win left the Friars’ defense reeling.
Of the next six Haverford goals, five of them came from different players. Four-star Navy commit Aydan DiRocco, Zeller, O’Kane, Ryan DiRocco and Will Burfeind. Haverford seemingly had answers every time the Friars started to come back.
“I think we have the chemistry and we worked our butts off this offseason,” O’Kane said. “That contributes to our chemistry. We just know everybody can contribute in any way. It was just a really great effort today.”
Early on, St. Anthony’s very much looked the part of a team that made the three-hour drive to Haverford that morning. The Friars couldn’t get runs going because of McCarthy’s dominance, as much as Duffy and his running mates tried. The future Tar Heel factored in on the Friars’ first four goals and helped St. Anthony’s stay afloat. When the faceoff battle started to even out a little in the second half, the Friars were able to make some runs to get back in it, but Murphy stopped their last possession to secure the Haverford win.
“This was a good reality check for us,” Duffy said. “We can’t really take any plays or games off. It was definitely a wakeup call. We came out and started of flat. Across the board, we were flat and made some silly mistakes.”
St. Anthony’s vs. Haverford School Standouts
Luke Breslin ’24, attack, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 LI / Lehigh – NLF No. 83 ’24
Breslin did an excellent job of exploiting matchups en route to his most productive game as a Friar. He canned his first career hat trick and also set up four-star senior Harvard commit Jack Speidell for a breakaway goal. The future Mountain Hawk manned the lefty attack spot as a righty and came away looking great. He got on the board in the third quarter by flashing a nice off-ball cut and burying a Speidell pass before back-dooring the Haverford defense for a finish off of a Duffy dish. Normally the X attackman for a stacked Team 91 Wolfpack team, Breslin has had to carve out a new role for himself when playing alongside Duffy and Speidell and continues to get better at it. Diversifying his game will only pay dividends in the long run, even if he becomes the QB at X next year when Duffy and Speidell go off to college.
Ryan DiRocco ’23, attack, Haverford School / Army
DiRocco might be the resident juice goal guy for the Fords. He finds a way to come up with big-time energy goals at the right time, and that was no different against St. Anthony’s. DiRocco gave the Fords a huge boost with the clock winding down in the second quarter. He took a hard take to the rack and dove across the crease while tucking the ball home to give Haverford a 9-5 lead with 2.6 seconds to go in the half. His three-goal, one-assist performance to lead the balanced Haverford offense was impressive enough, but he continues to improve his game and has gotten noticeably tougher and more aggressive this year.
Owen Duffy ’23, attack, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 LI / North Carolina – NLF No. 3 ’23
In a game where it’s likely that more than 40 players will eventually play Division I lacrosse, Duffy was far and away the best. He continued his bonkers senior campaign with five goals and three assists, but it’s also how he’s scoring those goals. Two more lefty alley dodges, which, sure, that’s gotta be fun to try to defend. A high-to-high bomb on a sweep across the top. An inside finish from Speidell. And, oh yeah, an absolutely ridiculous no-look overhead backhander that grazed the crossbar and went in. That last one came against a defenseman who had good coverage on the play, too.
Duffy has simply been unstoppable all spring. St. Anthony’s has played a veritable who’s who of top programs and Duffy has burned them all. He doesn’t just play behind the cage anymore. The future Tar Heel will also take defenders out to the wing or up top, and he’s a threat to score or feed from anywhere. He worked the two-man game with Jack Ponzio for a goal and set up Breslin twice. Duffy has certainly made an excellent case to be the No. 1 prospect in the final 2023 rankings.
Ben McCarthy ’24, faceoff midfield, Haverford School / Duke – NLF No. 2 ’24
An absolute machine.
McCarthy was out of this world in the first half, and even though he slowed down a tick in the second half, the future Blue Devil came away with decisive wins on the final three faceoffs to help Haverford salt the game away. Even more impressive was that the stretch came after he’d dropped three straight decisions, a nod to his resilience and ability to adapt.
What makes him so good is that not only is he an elite athlete at the position, but he’s the best 3v3 faceoff man in the class – and maybe in all of high school lacrosse. McCarthy does an excellent job of involving his wings and understanding that there’s more to faceoff wins than pinch and pops. He can turn lost clamps into 50-50 balls and out-athlete his opponents. He can direct his wing guys to wherever he wants them to go. McCarthy knows that he’s going to get everybody’s best shot because of his reputation, but he doesn’t back down from it.
“I kind of continue to be the hunter,” McCarthy said. “That’s what our coach (Brendan Dawson) tells us as a team and I think that’s something I’ve learned to do personally, too. Don’t act cocky and be ready because I want to beat those guys just as badly as they want to beat me. I just want to have fun doing it and I have a lot of support from my wings.”
Brady O’Kane ’24, attack, Haverford School / Delaware
O’Kane doesn’t have a massive frame but he plays big and has a great touch around the cage. He finished off a hat trick with a third-quarter tally, but his first two tallies highlighted a big run from Haverford in the second quarter. O’Kane showed great off-ball movement on an EMO opportunity, then wired home a bardown rip off of an Evan Large pass. Fewer than three minutes later, O’Kane grabbed a feed from Brendan Leary (Penn State) and spun in traffic before finding the back of the cage. O’Kane has been pretty consistent for the Fords this year, emerging as one of their top scoring options, and it looks like Delaware has a good one on its hands.
Haverford School 16, St. Anthony’s 15
St. Anthony’s (11-1)
Owen Duffy ’23 (Team 91 LI / North Carolina / NLF No. 3 ’23) 5 goals, 3 assists
Luke Breslin ’24 (Team 91 LI / Lehigh / NLF No. 83 ’24) 3 goals, 1 assist
Jackson Greene ’23 (Team 91 LI / Harvard / NLF No. 72 ’23) 2 goals, 1 assist
Jack Speidell ’23 (Team 91 LI / Harvard / NLF No. 40 ’23) 1 goal, 2 assists
Patrick Carragher ’23 (LI Express / Penn State) 1 goal, 1 assist
Kyle Bilello ’24 (LI Express / Brown) 1 goal
Jack Ponzio ’23 (Team 91 LI / Navy) 1 goal
Aidan Zuhoski ’23 (LI Express / LIU) 1 goal
Sean Forde ’24 (Utah) 11 saves
Haverford School (14-2)
Ryan DiRocco ’23 (Army) 3 goals, 1 assist
Brady O’Kane ’24 (Delaware) 3 goals
Wells Flinn ’23 (Air Force) 3 goals
Colin Zeller ’23 (Rutgers) 2 goals, 1 assist
Will Burfeind ’24 2 goals
Brendan Leary ’23 (Penn State) 1 goal, 2 assists
Jack Long ’24 (Michigan) 1 goal, 1 assist
Aydan DiRocco ’24 (Navy / NLF No. 117 ’24) 1 goal
Evan Large ’25 2 assists
Ben McCarthy (Duke / NLF No. 2 ’24) 21-for-31 faceoffs
Griff Meyer ’25 (Team 91 Maryland) 1-for-2 faceoffs
Brody Murphy ’24 (Richmond) 13 saves