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Video highlights courtesy of First Class Lacrosse and Eddie Martin.
At a program like St. Anthony’s, the notion of backups is a little different than at most places.
There are starters and non-starters, sure. But it takes something special to even be one of the guys on the bench, which means the dropoff when the reserves are called on is considerably shallower than most places.
So when starting junior goalie Sean Forde came up lame Sunday afternoon, from the latest collision of dozens in a physical affair against Culver Academy, ostensible back-up Joey Rice (Team 91 Long Island) was ready to go.
“I think we have full confidence in Joey Rice,” attackman Owen Duffy (Team 91 LI / North Carolina) said. “I wouldn’t call him a backup; I would just call him our second goalie and I think it’s 1A, 1B. He stepped up and he played his part.”
The senior Stony Brook commit came up with five big saves in a half plus a few minutes, helping the Long Island power take down Culver, 14-10, in a neutral-site matchup of two of the nation’s top high school programs.
Coming up Big
Forde was great early, making six saves in the first 20 or so minutes of the game, played at Shipley School outside of Philadelphia, in staking St. Anthony’s to an 8-2 lead. But after collecting a loose ball out of his crease, he got the worst of a hit after he’d cleared the ball upfield, in a hard-checking affair that included 18 accepted flags.
As Forde limped off, on came Rice to face a Culver team that had scored three straight goals on Forde to narrow the lead to 8-5.
“Forde was balling completely, he was playing amazing,” Rice said. “I saw him go down, and I felt, he stepped up, so I had to step up and keep the team rolling.”
Rice stood tall early in his stint, backstopping the Friars scoring twice to get the lead back to 10-5 at half. It included a stunning double save, Rice scrambling to cover his crease and throwing his body at the follow-up shot to fight it away.
“That was a huge momentum booster going into half,” Duffy said.
Defensive momentum was a novel concept early, with both offenses coming out firing. Duffy orchestrated the St. Anthony’s attack with five goals, and the Harvard-bound duo from Team 91 LI of Jackson Greene and Jack Speidell tallied hat tricks with an assist each.
But the tone was set early by faceoff man Michael Moon. The Brown-bound junior, also from Team 91 LI, won the game’s first five draws, helping the Friars lead 4-1. They led 5-2 after one quarter.
“He definitely set the tone early,” Duffy said.
Moon finished 12-for-25, which doesn’t jump off the page. But he came up with wins at key times to neutralize Culver’s terrific rotating duo of Dartmouth junior commit Spencer Reagan (West Coast Starz) and four-star ’25 Tay Rodriguez (SweetLax Florida), who scored a goal. Moon also drew a faceoff violation flag on Culver in the second half.
With a steady supply of the ball, Duffy and company got going. The UNC commit and NLF No. 3 senior was outstanding, his third-quarter goal the clear standout. He got going downhill, swam through two short-sticks converging on him and fired a behind-the-back laser off the inside of the far post before a pole could slide.
“I saw that the whole backside empty, and I got switched onto a shorty there,” Duffy said. “So I just took it and ran.”
St. Anthony’s generated plenty of set offense, too. With Greene, Speidell and middie Jack Ponzio (Team 91 LI / Navy) in constant motion, they offer defenses little respite. Ponzio fed Luke Breslin (Team 91 LI / Lehigh) in the slot in the first quarter for a goal, and a tic-tac-toe tally in which a dodging Duffy fed Speidell behind the cage to feather a pass Breslin on the doorstep for a goal was emblematic of the crispness.
Man-Ups and Missed Chances Doom Culver
Most of Culver’s offense came on man-up chances, thanks to 12 flags called on St. Anthony’s – including five on the same wild possession in the second quarter. That resulted in one of two goals for Aidan McDonald (Princeton), fed by Nick Roode (Michigan), on the conventional 6-v-3 advantage.
Much as the five man-up goals were appreciated by Culver, it came at the expense of generating offensive rhythm 6-v-6.
“It’s a lot of uncertainty of what’s coming out in 6-v-6 because we didn’t get a lot of looks early,” McDonald said. “It was kind of thrown off with the man-up, man-down looks. We have to be better and be prepared for whatever is thrown at us.”
“We made a lot of silly mistakes, we put them man-up a lot,” Duffy said. “But I think they (our defense) handled it well and we killed off a lot of those penalties.”
McDonald was the orchestrator, punishing the St. Anthony’s defense for giving him room to operate freely behind the cage with his pinpoint feeds. Though in the second quarter, the NLF’s No. 63 junior showed the danger of when you chase him through X, sneaking upfield along the crease to rip one home. It was part of a three-goal run to get Culver within 8-5. They got within three early in the fourth when Roode hit Gabriel Sorichetti (Johns Hopkins) in the slot on a textbook man-up play, but they’d get no closer.
It meant a first loss for the Indiana powerhouse in seven games this season, though only one of those (with Kiski School) have been competitive. St. Anthony’s, in its opener, was suitably excited to have a made a statement with their play.
“They’re one of the best teams in the country,” McDonald said. “Whenever we can play a team like them and challenge ourselves, it’s always something we want to prove, not just to ourselves but everyone who doubts us. Unfortunately today, we came up a little short on that, but it’s always a good opportunity to show what we’re made of.”
“This is probably what we thought our toughest game was going to be going into the season,” Rice said. “We came out with a lot of energy, and we were really impressive in how we played on both sides of the field.”
St. Anthony’s vs. Culver Standouts
Owen Duffy ’23, attack, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 Long Island – North Carolina – NLF No. 3 ’23
Duffy is quick, which is a skill many attackmen have. But his speed is so functional, which sets him apart. He’s able to create space over such short distances to get around defenders, and he’s so outstanding at shooting or passing accurately at full speed that it punishes defenses. Duffy picked out some shots off the dodge that pinged in off corners, and his behind-the-back shot at full speed was about as good a goal as you’ll see at the high school level.
Jack Ponzio ’23, midfield, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 Long Island – Navy
The converted attackman is finding a home in midfield, and he doesn’t look out of place on either end of the field. He has the attacking skills, obviously, a deft passer who had two assists on the day and a dodger who can create space or slip into the high slot to get off his shot. What is really impressive is his command of the game: the Friars have no shortage of attacking talent, and Ponzio is one of the ones directing traffic in the offensive half, a role he also plays well when he’s back on defense.
Michael Moon ’24, faceoff midfield, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 Long Island – Brown
Twelve for 25 isn’t an amazing day from a purely statistical standpoint. Against a team like Culver, that can throw two high-caliber faceoff guys with different styles at you, achieving parity is a win. Culver only had one stretch, in the second quarter, where they scored more than twice in a row. Moon’s ability to disrupt momentum was a big reason why. He was very quick on the clamp, and while he’s not the biggest guy, he’s able to get under his opponents and quicker to beat them with his feet.
Kevin Kearns ’23, defense, St. Anthony’s / Team 91 Long Island – Michigan
All the man-down defending made defensive continuity difficult to come by, the Friars rotating fresh bodies in often (and, to be fair, regularly having poles in the penalty box). So sustained, 1-v-1 matchups were in short supply. But Kearns showed about as well as anyone. He picked off passes at a couple of key moments, he moves well up and down the field and he has a good sense of how to help his goalie when things break down and it’s scramble time.
Aidan McDonald ’24, attack, Culver – Princeton – NLF No. 63 ’24
Watching Duffy on one end and McDonald on the other was such a fun contrast. Both are so different, yet so outstanding. McDonald is an offensive orchestrator of the highest order. He’s quick enough and physical enough, despite his smaller stature, to beat a lot of defenders with his feet, which keeps them honest and makes them give him the space to spray passes from behind the cage. On a day where Culver’s midfielders are more efficient in their finishing, it’s easy to see how devastating the attack can be.
Tade Wynn ’24, goalie, Culver / West Coast Starz – Army – NLF No. 11 ’24
Four-star senior Colin Vickrey (Princeton) started and was under attack from the opening faceoff. The game had settled down a touch when Wynn entered in the second half, and his numbers look better as a result. But Wynn is the type of goalie whose pre-shot fundamentals – how he squares up to shooters, how aggressive he is in getting off that step off his line to confront – deter shots before they’re even attempted. Once they’re en route, he’s such a great shot stopper that your chances aren’t much better.
St. Anthony’s 14, Culver 10
St Anthony’s 5 5 2 2 – 14
Culver 2 3 3 2 – 10
St. Anthony’s (1-0)
Owen Duffy ’23 (Team 91 LI / North Carolina / NLF No. 3 ’23) 5 goals, assist
Jack Speidell ’23 (Team 91 LI / Harvard / NLF No. 40 ’23) 3 goals, assist
Jackson Greene ’23 (Team 91 LI / Harvard / NLF No. 72 ’23) 3 goals, assist
Luke Breslin ’24 (Team 91 LI / Lehigh / NLF No. 83 ’23) 2 goals, 1 assist
Patrick Carragher ’23 (LI Express / Penn State) 1 goal
Jack Ponzio ’23 (Team 91 LI / Navy) 2 assists
Colin Johnston ’23 (LI Express / Gettysburg) 1 assist
Michael Moon ’24 (Team 91 LI / Brown) 12-for-25 faceoffs
Sean Forde ’24 6 saves
Joey Rice ’23 (Team 91 LI / Stony Brook) 5 saves
Aidan McDonald ’24 (Princeton / NLF No. 63 ’24) 2 goals, 3 assists
Gabe Sorichetti ’23 (Johns Hopkins) 2 goals
Luke Macaluso ’24 (North Carolina / NLF No. 94 ’24)
Noah Ramirez ’24 (Navy) 1 goal
Luke Warrington ’24 (Team 91 Maryland / Duke / NLF No. 64 ’24) 1 goal
Kyler Francis ’24 (Yale) 1 goal
Tay Rodriguez ’25 (SweetLax Florida) 1 goal, 7-for-13 faceoffs
Nick Roode ’23 (Michigan) 2 assists
Colin Vickrey ’23 (Princeton / NLF No. 62 ’23) 4 saves
Tade Wynn ’24 (West Coast Starz / Army / NLF No. 11 ’24) 5 saves