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The pecking order in the PIAA since high school lacrosse returned to Pennsylvania after the COVID-19 pandemic has been relatively muddled. There have been plenty of contenders who have jockeyed for positioning, with one significant exception.

Everybody is chasing Radnor. Ranked No. 17 in the first NLF high school rankings of the year, the Raptors claimed both the 2021 and 2022 championships, winning their two titles by a combined 15 goals in the championship games. Radnor has ruled the roost, turning aside challengers with relative ease throughout the season.


One of the Raptors’ four losses in the past two years has been to a PIAA competitor. That came in the form of a four-goal loss to La Salle in last season’s opener. There’s been one one-goal win in that stretch, an overtime victory against rival Springfield in last year’s District One playoffs. The Cougars were the closest PIAA opponent before that, too, when they lost to the Raptors by four in the regular season.

All photos in this story courtesy of Matt Chandik.

Radnor Pulls One Out

Friday night at Radnor, Springfield nearly became the first PIAA to tag Radnor with a loss on its home field since…, well, Springfield, in 2021. The Raptors, though, had other ideas. Radnor killed off a man-up in overtime and junior Princeton commit Cooper Mueller found Mason Montrella in transition. The lefty Franklin & Marshall commit stepped into one and cranked a high rip that splashed into the net to deliver a 6-5 win for Radnor.

Just another Radnor-Springfield classic.

“It all happened pretty fast,” Montrella said. “I got a good transition opportunity. Cooper came down with it, hit me with a little cross-field feed and I just gripped it and ripped it. This is my first OT winner. It’s a crazy feeling and I’m so excited to do it. Springfield is one of our main rivals and we were looking forward to this game for a while and it’s great to win it in OT. I’m sure we’ll see them again. It was a great challenge for us and we love playing those guys.”

The odds are good that there will be at least one rematch between the two, if not two of them. They’re likely to find each other again as high seeds in the District One tournament, and then again in the PIAA tournament. It’s a rivalry based on a great deal of respect. The two coaching staffs often heap praise on each other, both publicly and privately, and there’s little in both teams’ playbooks that hasn’t been emptied out on the other before.

Been There Before

The game had all the familiar makings of a Springfield upset, too. The Cougars have been known to fully embrace the lack of a shot clock in the PIAA and shorten games as much as possible with long – and I mean, loooooong – possessions. Springfield loves to drag faster-paced opponents into much slower games and the Cougars excel at it.

So when sophomore Patrick Flaherty and senior Sean Donaldson scored less than a minute apart with less than five minutes to go to tie game at five, there was a feeling of dejá vu all over again. The Cougars got a man-up and the ball in the final minute of the game after Mueller was flagged for shooting after a whistle for a Radnor timeout. It looked like Springfield had everything to pull it off.

As it turns out, though, two-time state champions don’t get there by accident. Radnor showed its mettle by killing off the penalty, its man-down defense highlighted by the biggest of senior goalie Nick De Cain‘s nine saves. Mueller got his chance at redemption when he ran the ball down and spied Montrella on the wing to set up the latter’s heroics.

Ball game. It also served as a reminder to the Raptors will always get everyone’s best shot, whether they want it or not.

“I just kind of trusted my read, made sure I saw the ball and made the save,” De Cain said. “Getting everyone’s best) is definitely intimidating. We have to bring our best every single day, but we don’t think about that too much. We focus on the next game and focus on bringing our best to every single team. Coach (JohnBegier always tells us to forget about that stuff. That stuff’s in the past and we try to bring that every game. We want to bring that intensity and work like we’ve never won before.”

Lots More Fireworks on the Way

Radnor’s box score shows right away what makes the Raptors so hard to guard offensively. Nine players recorded points, and not one of them had more than one point. They struggled to win faceoffs, losing 10 of the 15 draws, but winning faceoffs hasn’t really been a huge priority at Radnor this decade and the Raptors have been just fine at winning games.

On the flip side, this might have served as Springfield’s official announcement that it will be firmly in the mix for hardware in June. Flaherty and Donaldson each tallied twice, while freshman Luke Valerio handed out a pair of assists. Sophomore Jackson Kennedy stopped nine shots and had the best pass of the night, an 80-yard dart to the corner to Flaherty to break a 10-man ride. Flaherty did the rest by beating his man with a strong take to the cage before dumping the ball home.

Ultimately, though, the champs showed why they’ll be tough to knock off their perch in June.

Springfield vs. Radnor Standouts

Nick De Cain ’23, goalie, Radnor – Washington & Lee 

A first-year starter in the Raptors’ cage, De Cain came up big when the Cougars dominated possession down the stretch in the fourth quarter and in overtime. De Cain doesn’t have a huge frame, but he plays well positionally and made shooters think about where to put it. He made a pair of highlight-reel stops, one on a 1v1 in front and another on a spinning backhander off of a great feed inside. De Cain’s short on starting experience for Radnor, but he looked poised and comfortable Friday night.

“It was kind of intimidating coming into the season, but I’ve had some great mentors in the past in Rob Hobbs, who’s at Bowdoin now, and Nate Brown,” De Cain said. “They gave me the best tips and the best advice. I feel like I’ve always been prepared for this moment because they prepared me for games like this.”

Billy Henderson ’25, defense, Springfield

The Cougars are absolutely LOADED in the underclasses. Henderson, Flaherty, Kennedy and Valerio were among the standouts. The one that might be the best of the bunch, Brad Barber, will miss his freshman campaign with a torn ACL. Springfield’s got arguably the best group of underclassmen in the Central League.

Henderson was fantastic all game long for the Cougars, routinely knocking down and picking off passes and making life miserable for Radnor’s offense. He baited the Raptors into a pass in a two-man game on the wing early, only to pick it off, and added another interception a few minutes later. Henderson also extended out and caused a turnover at GLE. He must have made at least a half-dozen plays on the ball throughout the game.

“I read their eyes and as they pass it, I just try to get my stick in the way,” Henderson said. “It’s kind of always been my thing.”

Jackson Kennedy ’25, goalie, Springfield 

For a sophomore goalie playing against the best team he’s faced to date, Kennedy didn’t look fazed. He was particularly excellent in the middle quarters, making six of his nine saves. A tall stopper with plenty of room to fill out, he was positionally-sound throughout, taking away space by getting to the right spot in time. The clearing game, though, is what’s going to set Kennedy apart when he works to get recruited this summer. He’s outstanding at getting the ball out quickly and cleanly, and he leads his guy almost every time. Kennedy’s passing was at its best when he snapped an absolute dart to Flaherty in the far corner to set up a goal.

Cooper Mueller ’23, midfield, Radnor – Princeton

Mueller projects as a short-stick defensive midfielder for the Tigers. Matt Madalon will be more than happy to welcome the tall and incredibly athletic Mueller to the squad. The younger brother of Ellie Mueller, an attacker on the Tigers’ women’s team, Mueller brings next-level athleticism to the position and some sandpaper to his game. He seems to never get tired and relished the opportunity to get out and guard guys to the parking lot. It was his speed in transition that allowed him to draw a slide and dump a pass off to Montrella for the winner. Mueller was a vital cog in Radnor’s District One-winning basketball team, and multi-sport athletes never go out of style at the next level.

Mike Savadove ’24, defense / LSM, Radnor – Harvard – NLF No. 46 ’24

Savadove was extremely high on Harvard’s defensive recruiting board last year and with good reason. He looks the part of a big-time defensive piece at the next level with his size, athleticism and ability to get out in transition. Savadove got upfield in a hurry on a handful of occasions and was finally rewarded for his efforts with a tally to make it 4-2. Normally always found at close defense last year, the Crimson commit bounced up top to take on a different matchup against the Cougars. The 6-1, 180-pounder also had a big role in the Raptors’ success on the hard wood this winter, and it’s not hard to see why. He has great feet and moves well laterally and in a straight line. He’s patient in coverage but looked noticeably more aggressive against Springfield.

Radnor 6, Springfield 5

Springfield (5-2)

Pat Flaherty ’25 2 goals
Sean Donaldson ’23 (St. John Fisher) 2 goals
Ty Gougler ’24 (Drexel) 1 goal
Luke Valerio ’26 2 assists
Connor Aughe ’24 (Marist) 1 assist
Aidan Kreydt ’23 (Saint Joseph’s) 1 assist
Lucas Aaron ’24 10-for-14 faceoffs
Jackson Kennedy ’25 9 saves

Radnor (6-2)

Nate Lucchesi ’24 (Penn – NLF No. 100 ’24) 1 goal
Mason Montrella ’23 (Franklin & Marshall) 1 goal
Colin French ’23 (Lehigh) 1 goal
Tommy DeShan ’23 1 goal
Kessler Cox ’24 1 goal
Mike Savadove ’24 (Harvard – NLF No. 46 ’24) 1 goal
Owen Smith ’24 1 assist
Max Goldstein ’23 1 assist
Cooper Mueller ’23 (Princeton) 1 assist
Nick De Cain ’23 (Washington & Lee) 9 saves