By Frank Long
After losing their 2020 season to COVID-19, The Garnet Valley Boys Lacrosse team is eager to start their revenge campaign.
Every member of the Garnet Valley Boys Lacrosse team was heartbroken after the canceling of their 2020 season. That 2020 roster was a team that many believed had the ability to win a state championship, particularly since they had two Division One Lacrosse players in their senior class, Jake Morin at Penn State, and Mitch Lachman at Bryant University.
Thankfully, Garnet Valley will get a shot at revenge this year. On March 8th, Garnet Valley began practice and the season was on its way. The Jags were extremely grateful for the opportunity. Among the players excited to get started is senior defenseman Sam Morin. ”I am very grateful to get the opportunity to play this year,” Morin said. “Considering that the seniors lost their season and my brother (Jake Morin) was a senior last year, I got to experience first hand what that was like and I am very grateful I didn’t have to endure what he went through.”
On Tuesday March 16th, Garnet Valley had its first taste of in game action in a scrimmage against Penn Charter. The Jags were confronted by early adversity and found themselves trailing 9-2 at half time, but they rallied in the second half, outsourcing Penn Charter 8 to 2 to tie the game before giving up a late game goal to lose 11-10. Once they complete three more scrimmages, the Jags will open their season on March 27th against Southern Lehigh and hope to get the season started the right way with a strong home debut.
Although it is a different team and a different season from last year’s, the expectations have not changed. Garnet Valley senior captain Sam Morin has huge confidence in and expectations for this team. “My first expectation is a Central League title,” he said. “I feel as if no one in the Central league has the talent or discipline that we have. Next is a district championship, and from there on I see us being capable of a state championship.”
The road to a state championship for Garnet Valley will be difficult. There are many challenging teams they will have to get past. But the Jags are not afraid of a challenge; in fact they are excited for it. Senior Midfielder Brian Bradley is especially looking forward to taking on the competition. He is most eager to take the field and compete with Conestoga, Radnor, Springfield, and although they aren’t on their schedule, he would love to come across La Salle after their loss in double overtime two years ago in the State Semifinals.
Sam Morin has one particular game on his mind. ”I think that our most challenging game, and the game that I am looking forward to the most is the Haverford School. They are one of the best teams in the state. Two years ago we played them in the 10VE cup and there were over 1,000 people there. They beat up on us pretty good and I would love to get that game back.”
Challenges for the Jags have not just been on the lacrosse field, but off it as well. Obviously, COVID-19 has put our whole world on hold and has had a huge impact on sports, particular at the high school level. COVID-19 impacted college scouting for lacrosse and players may not be getting the opportunities to get offers and visit colleges they are interested in playing for.
Beyond recruiting for the seniors, the Garnet Valley Boys Lacrosse team is trying their best not to let COVID compromise their current season. As a result, the team decided that they would go into a bubble where they will strive to limit their interactions. In addition, they have cut back on all in-person film sessions, and players have been in less contact with each other than previous years. Many believe that losing all of that interaction could have a negative impact on the team as it could limit team bonding and damage team chemistry. Sam Morin strongly disagrees. “I don’t think it will have an effect on chemistry or team bonding. Those relationships are made on the field and in practice. In fact I think that the COVID restrictions may help us come closer together. We are all going through this together so it could very well make us become closer. Coaches have also set up a Schoology page where we can really interact and know what’s happening with each other.”
Another concern was the period of time these players went without playing a game. The last time the Jags played an official game was their heartbreaking loss to La Salle well over a year ago. It could be challenging for some of the players to get back into the swing of things and get fully prepared. “It was a little difficult to get back into the swing of things,” said Morin. “But after a couple of practices I felt like I was ready to go. I definitely think that our team will be fully prepared and ready to go for this season.” Garnet Valley players also didn’t spend as much time away from the team as you think. This summer, many of them participated on a Jags Lax Club team where they played in local tournaments during the summer. Coach Urso, the team’s head coach and a member of the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, frequently keeps in touch with the players. According to Morin, Coach Urso and his staff have done an excellent job of limiting distractions and staying focused on the task at hand.
Sam Morin and Brian Bradley have also really taken on a leadership role for the players that need it the most.”There are a lot of young guys coming into this program. Me being a senior, I feel like it’s important for me to get them involved,” said Morin. It is a priority for the Garnet Valley Lacrosse Program to nurture the younger players because it has a “next man up” mentality that will rely on underclassmen to perform at a high level.
There is no better time to educate the younger players than right now. With the season approaching, many would understand why they would need younger players to know what to do if they are put into a game scenario. They are playing in a time where anything can go wrong. A starting player could get COVID and a bench player would need to come in without a dropoff in performance.
In terms of the time off, Sam Morin believes that this team will not show any rust. “I think there won’t be a lot of rust for any of the players on the team. Most of them were playing on Jags lax Club team this summer. I can also tell that they were keeping busy working on their skills in the off season. Our practices are pretty competitive and I think at this point every player on the team won’t have any rust or be unprepared.” Great teams need a lot of depth. If Garnet Valley is intent on making a championship run then depth is essential for them.
“All it takes is one positive test and a player or a team can be at a huge disadvantage. That is why it is important that we have a lot of depth and younger players that know what’s going on. Something that our coaches say is the best team we are going to play all year is our second team,” said Morin.
In conclusion, the loss of the 2020 season was truly heartbreaking for members of the Garnet Valley Lacrosse program. Sam Morin missed his opportunity to play with his brother for one last time, and many missed out on special moments they could have shared with their teammates. Sam Morin believes it is important for those athletes to look on the bright side. To say they were a part of a brotherhood and this program is something many consider a blessing. Garnet Valley Lacrosse has produced some of college lacrosse’s most successful stars, such as Matt Moore who led Virginia to a college National championship. The current team also has no shortage of talent with huge futures ahead of them. Sam Morin committed to Towson University, Max Busenkell to Notre Dame, and Sean Gallagher the Naval Academy, all for lacrosse. But behind all of those offers and accolades this program has produced, there is a winning culture and a drive to compete and win that has put Garnet Valley Lacrosse on the map. The Jags are disciplined, motivated and ready to put Pennsylvania Lacrosse on notice that they are coming, and they are coming for it all.