Wells Flinn‘s plan of attack in overtime lacked in complexity. Ultimately, though, it had all the efficiency that he and The Haverford School could have asked for.
The Fords’ senior Air Force commit already had three goals to his name when he got his chance to be the hero in overtime against Georgetown Prep. NLF No. 2 junior Ben McCarthy‘s 16th faceoff win of the day ensured possession for the Fords, and when Flinn got his chance, he didn’t miss.
Flinn made quick work of a short-stick defensive midfielder on the left wing, dipped his shoulder inside and fired home a low shot that capped Haverford’s 11-10 win over the Little Hoyas in the IAC / Inter-Ac Challenge at Episcopal Academy.
IAC / Inter-Ac Challenge has lived up to the hype! pic.twitter.com/HH72Se6Upr
— NLF (@natlaxfed) March 18, 2023
“I just saw that we were dodging and moving the ball, got a good pass and then one thing led to another and we won the game,” Flinn said. “It’s a pretty good feeling. It was a great game. Everyone played amazing. We went down and fought back hard and won the game.”
Fords Fire Up the Comeback
Down 10-9 after Georgetown Prep’s Horning brothers, Larry and Owen, gave the Little Hoyas a lead with goals 73 seconds apart, Haverford got to work. Standout sophomore defenseman Gavin Cooper (Big 4 HHH) picked off a pass on the crease to get the ball back for the Fords. Aydan DiRocco (Navy) then set up Brady O’Kane‘s (Delaware) second goal of the game.
NLF No. 9 senior Colin Burns (MadLax / Princeton) had a great chance to come up with the winner at the regulation buzzer, but junior goalie Brody Murphy made arguably the finest of his nine saves to send the game to overtime to set up Flinn’s heroics.
“I think we have a bunch of guys who focus on playing loose and having fun and playing the game,” Flinn added. “We just mesh well together and have good chemistry and it just works.”
The Little Hoyas nearly pulled off the road win despite missing a couple of starters, including NLF No. 17 ’23 in attackman Nate Kabiri (MadLax / Princeton) and defenseman Isaiah Rose (MadLax / Army). Even without Kabiri, Georgetown Prep has an elite offense and it showed, led by Burns and junior Johns Hopkins commitment Cieran McCleary, as well as the Hornings. Larry Horning paired two goals with two assists, Burns paired a goal with two assists and McCleary snapped home a hat trick.
Despite the loss, there’s no doubt in the Little Hoyas’ mind that they have the firepower to hang with anyone.
“We brought the fight,” McCleary said. “That’s what I love about the team. We need it more. We just need to fight harder. I think we’re the best offense in America (when we’re all together.”
Georgetown Prep-Haverford School Standouts
Colin Burns ’23, attack, Georgetown Prep / MadLax – Princeton – NLF No. 9 ’23
The Little Hoyas were without NLF No. 9 ’23 Nate Kabiri (MadLax / Princeton), but it’s nice to have another senior five-star to run the show. Burns was quiet early, but picked up the pace en route to a one-goal, two-assist day. He had a nasty overhand blast while coming up the hash for his goal, and he set up both Ciaran McCleary (Johns Hopkins) and Larry Horning (MadLax / Georgetown) for goals. The feed to Horning, in particular, was perfect, a lefty dime tossed into the absolute perfect spot to help Horning rip one home. Burns is so patient with the ball in his stick and always exudes confidence. He’s a versatile player who will be able to slot into a number of roles at the next level.
The bad: McCarthy oddly jumped four times against Georgetown Prep. The good: those were literally his only losses as he won all 16 faceoffs that he actually competed for. That included the overtime duel, where he won the clamp and calmly wrestled the ball away and popped it back to a streaking Connor Nolen. The 6-foot, 180-pounder looks even stronger than he did a year ago, and he carries himself with a quiet confidence that makes it evident that he knows the impact he has on a game. McCarthy showed that he could win in a number of different ways and he is excellent at the 3v3 aspect of a faceoff. He communicates well with his wings and works in tandem with them.
“It was a different whistle and I came out a little jittery. Some of the faceoffs, I jumped, but other than that, when I wasn’t, I was feeling good,” McCarthy said. “Once I collected myself, it was pretty easy to get back into a rhythm and to be ready for a whistle. I have amazing guys helping me out on the wings. Andrew Lyon (UMass) tells me everything that he sees from the field and the sideline. He gives me a bird’s eye view of what’s happening every time. Having someone like Connor Nolen on the wing helps. We have great chemistry and he’s just a dog. I know if I put the ball in his direction in a scrum, he’s going to come up with it.”
Ciaran McCleary ’24, midfield, Georgetown Prep – Johns Hopkins
McCleary rang up a hat trick for Georgetown Prep, showing that he can score goals in a number of different ways. He used his hard, heavy shot to hammer home a Larry Horning pass on an early man-up. McCleary also showed a great rapport with Colin Burns, particularly on one play where he timed his cut to the middle perfectly, caught a Burns pass and tossed it home. The tall lefty also has enough shake to consistently create his own shot.
Connor Nolen ’24, midfield, Haverford School
One of the better uncommitted ’24 middies in the country, Nolen’s collegiate game probably profiles best as a tough-as-nails, super impactful short-stick defensive midfielder. He doesn’t have great size at 5-9, 170, but plays much, much bigger than his size. Nolen was all over the field for the Fords, snatching up six ground balls, including the overtime draw on a win back from Ben McCarthy. Nolen’s an animal in the clearing game and his teammates feed off his energy. Some in the Haverford program will tell you that he’s the best midfielder in Philly, and while he’s got some lofty competition for that title, it speaks volumes to how valuable he is to the Fords.
Colin Zeller ’23, midfield, Haverford School – Rutgers
Zeller’s at his best when getting downhill on alley dodges. He can stress a defense so much with his quick first step. The future Scarlet Knight got the scoring started by burying an alley dodge, but it was his third of the game that stood out the most. Zeller got downhill yet again and the lefty snuck a shot off the post and in.
“We knew all week watching film that they were sliding early, so we knew that was coming,” Zeller said. “I took advantage of slides off-ball and the back side, dodge on the shorty was wide open. I couldn’t have done without the other guys on the field.”
Haverford School 11, Georgetown Prep 10
Georgetown Prep 2 5 1 2 0 – 10
Haverford School 3 3 3 1 1 – 11
Georgetown Prep (3-2)
Ciaran McCleary ’24 (Johns Hopkins) 3 goals
Larry Horning ’23 (MadLax / Georgetown) 2 goals, 2 assists
Colin Burns ’23 (MadLax / Princeton / NLF No. 9 ’23) 1 goal, 2 assists
Harrison Hall ’23 1 goal
Owen Horning ’24 (Georgetown) 1 goal
Rafe Bradshaw ’23 (MadLax / Tampa) 1 goal
Tommy Arata ’23 (MadLax / Colgate) 1 goal
Jack Kask ’23 (Marquette) 12 saves
Haverford School (2-0)
Wells Flinn ’23 (Air Force) 4 goals
Colin Zeller ’23 (Rutgers) 3 goals
Brady O’Kane ’24 (Delaware) 2 goals
Aydan DiRocco ’24 (Navy – NLF No. 117 ’24) 3 assists
Wills Burt ’23 (Virginia – NLF No. 43 ’23) 1 goal, 1 assist
Brendan Leary ’23 (Penn State) 2 assists
Jack Long ’24 (Michigan) 1 goal
Ryan DiRocco ’23 (Army) 1 assist
Will Burfiend ’24 1 assist
Ben McCarthy ’24 (Duke – NLF No. 2 ’24) 16-for-20 faceoffs
Griff Meyer ’25 (Team 91 Maryland) 3-for-5 faceoffs
Brody Murphy ’24 9 saves