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Nate Lucchesi with the ball in his stick and a chance to step into a shot from 15 yards out is a fearsome sight for a goalie. Equally disconcerting is allowing the Radnor midfielder to get a head of steam in the open field.

Lucchesi showed how dangerous he was in both situations Friday night, tallying a hat trick plus two assists to lead Radnor to an 11-6 win over Central League rival Springfield in a rematch of last year’s PIAA championship game.


Lucchesi helped set the tone early for Radnor. The Penn commit scored twice in the first half, both on transition moments. The first, to tie the game at 2-2 in the first quarter, came after scooping and GB at midfield and bouncing home from 10 yards.

Just 75 seconds into the second, he took advantage of a busted coverage by Springfield on a clear. Getting the ball by the left sideline inside his own half, he snaked his way to the slot and buried one.

“I think any transition goal is a juice goal for the team,” Lucchesi said. “It gets the offense going, it gets the defense going, the faceoff group going.”

Old friends meet again

Radnor and Springfield have plenty of recent history. The Raptors are the three-time reigning champion in Pennsylvania’s largest classification.

Radnor beat Springfield, 6-5, in overtime in a regular season game to help the Raptors secure the league title. Springfield exacted revenge with a 10-8 win in the District 1 final before Radnor claimed an 8-1 victory in the state final.

Radnor has undergone changes, with long-time coach John Begier stepping down after the season. Former offensive coordinator and long-time athletic director Mike Friel took over, and much of the coaching staff that has inspired the recent success remained intact.

The identity remains the same. Led by Harvard commit Michael Savadove, the Raptors are outstanding defensively. Though they lost 12 of 20 draws Friday, it mattered little with the way that Savadove, Bryan Henry, Henry Pierce and Jake Barber create turnovers at will.

“The faith and trust we have in each other is that if I know a shortie needs to switch or I hear the screen, we’re going to switch and I know someone’s going to be there for the help,” Pierce said. “So I can always trust my teammates.”

Radnor killed four of five man-down chances. They got five big saves from Johnny Webb (LIU), who was solid in the cage. And they did what Radnor has done for years, looking comfortable without the ball.

“Our defense played a lot of defense tonight,” midfielder Tucker Graham (Williams) said. “Offensively, it’s just great to see, maybe we shouldn’t take those penalties and we shouldn’t let them win the possession battle so much. But it’s nice to know that if we do go down, they’re still going to get us the ball and they’re not going to score.”

The Offense to back the Defense

Offensively, Radnor is a tough squad to play matchups with. Their offense isn’t dependent on any one person. While the midfield isn’t yet as deep as it’s been in years past, they have multiple players able to trigger offense in the six-man game, which means they’re confident in just about anyone who gets matched up with a short-stick d-middie being able to spark havoc.

“(Offensive coordinator Mark) Petrone’s number one rule on offense is, beat your man, score a goal,” Lucchesi said. “If you can’t run by your goal, you can’t really create offense. We practice that a lot. We listen to coach Petrone, we trust him and we like to go invert a lot, like we did in that game.”

Lucchesi was that guy Friday with three goals and two assists. He set up one of Graham’s three goals, with Graham and attackman Owen Knight both adept at sneaking into the half-spaces around the crease and in the slot – Graham with his toughness, Knight his elusiveness.

Kessy Cox (Villanova) scored two goals and two assists. He buried a Lucchesi feed in the first quarter, then bounced home a far-corner shot with a half-second left in the first half to make it 5-3.

Imposing middie Sawyer Smith added a goal early in the fourth to restore a three-goal lead.

Springfield has a talented offense that is still jell. Ty Gougler (Drexel) tallied two goals and two assists. Brad Barber scored twice. Both are coming off knee injuries, Gougler’s coming in last year’s district final after a superb junior season, Barber’s wiping out his freshman campaign.

That means that Gougler, Barber and Flaherty have had precious few reps together as a three-man unit. And with Springfield losing much of a productive midfield from last year, roles are coming together.

They got a boost from Lucas Aaron (Stockton), who went 12-for-20 on draws. Jackson Kennedy (Towson) was solid in goal with six saves. But overall, it wasn’t enough to draw first blood in what could be three meetings this season.

Radnor-Springfield Standouts

Tucker Graham ’24, midfielder, Radnor (Pa.) – Williams

Graham has the makings of an outstanding Division III player. He’s heady with a tireless motor, great leadership ability and the right amount of fearlessness. He also has no shortage of skills, able to snap off shots accurately, catch and shoot in tight spaces and capable of feeding teammates off the dodge. Also a very good hockey player, he’s just the kind of athlete who knows how to perform in big situations.

Nate Lucchesi ’24, midfielder, Radnor (Pa.) – Penn

Lucchesi’s shot is Division I ready. If you let him step into it, he’s going to make you pay. And his athleticism, with time to adapt to the speed of the next level, will project up, too. The four-star’s ability to run by guys in the open field shined Friday, but his class to connect passes and create space with his feet and his hands in the attacking half is well-established as a contributor since his freshman year.

Johnny Webb ’24, goalie, Radnor (Pa.) – LIU

Unassuming is the descriptor for the 5-8 Webb. But his shot-stopping is anything but. He’s technically excellent, in the economical way he tracks shooters to how quickly he gets the head of his stick low to cover shots without rebounds. And he’s doing it with a fractured wrist, so extra points for toughness. Radnor has a history of success with goalies who are not elite recruits but outperform their club stature in the high school setting, and Webb looks like the next in that lineage.

Henry Pierce ’24, defenseman, Radnor (Pa.)

Radnor’s stars include a Division I guy and a Division III player. So how about someone who might not even play at the next level? You wouldn’t know it, with Pierce assigned the task of taking on Patrick Flaherty and keeping the Maryland commit off the scoresheet. Pierce, who has interest as a walk-on in basketball, is everything that Radnor’s defense has produced for the last half-decade. He’s fundamentally-sound, defensively responsible, maybe not off-the-charts athletic but the kind of defenseman that you know is going to do a job and do it well.

Tyler Gougler ’24, attack, Springfield (Pa.) – Drexel

Gougler’s junior season ended after a knee injury in the District 1 final in which he scored four goals. He’s back and, despite a knee brace, moving unfettered with much of the electricity that defines his game. He’s a feeder who can work through X, has a big shot on the wing and can run by defenders in close quarters. He does a lot of things really well, and his knee injury doesn’t seem to have dimmed that range of skills.

Lucas Aaron ’24, faceoff midfield, Springfield (Pa.) – Stockton

Aaron is a late bloomer who still has untapped upside. He doesn’t have the most showy athleticism, and he’s built like the undersized offensive lineman he was in the fall. But his improvement year to year is massive in terms of technical abilities, hand speed and ability to win to wings. He has great balance at the X and the strength to hold onto the ball after wins, but his dedication to learning the craft really shows through.