NEWTOWN SQUARE >> Pick your poison.
It’s an unenviable task for anyone playing against The Haverford School, and it’s quite a luxury to have for the Fords. There’s so much talent stockpiled on the Fords’ roster, especially at the offensive end, that it can leave defenses wondering who they need to take away first.
Last week, TJ Malone emerged as Haverford’s go-to threat. The junior had an amazing week, piling up 10 goals and seven assists in three games as the Fords downed Boys’ Latin, Malvern Prep and Strath Haven. Before that, it was Johnny Nostrant who led the way offensively before falling victim to an injury against national powerhouse Culver Academy. Luke O’Grady has been an offensive constant, too.
Start paying too much attention to one guy, though, and you’ll pay dearly because someone else will pop up out of nowhere. Episcopal Academy learned that the hard way Wednesday when Scott Deck torched the Churchmen for four goals and two assists en route to a 14-11 Fords Inter-Ac League win.
“I’m not sure what it was,” Deck said of his career day. “My shots were falling and I took a lot of good shots. We were all working together as a team and that’s pretty much it. I think overall, I’m just getting used to the competition and improving myself a lot in practice. I still get a lot of reps in practice and I think that’s preparing me for the game.”
The Fords (6-2, 2-0 Inter-Ac) unexpectedly lost Malone to an injury midway through the game, so they needed someone to fill that void. Deck capped a 6-0 Haverford run that gave the Fords their first lead with his third of the game.
Later, he scored and set up Peter Garno and Connor Devine for goals as part of a 5-0 Fords run that enabled them to finally create separation from the pesky Churchmen (4-2, 1-1). EA had staked itself to leads of 3-0 and 6-2 on the strength of a Jake Martellucci (four goals, one assist) hat trick and backup faceoff midfielder Jack Henderson’s first career goal.
“It helps knowing if you’re not playing your best game, you’ve got your boys to help you out,” Deck said. “We had a rough first half, but we saw that we could do it and it gave us motivation to do whatever we were doing in the last couple minutes of the first half.”
Indeed, they did. Deck and O’Grady scored 18.6 seconds apart to end the Churchmen’s lead right before halftime, and even though EA got the lead back, it felt inevitable that Haverford would find another gear. Eleven players recorded points for the Fords, including a hat trick from O’Grady, a goal and two assists from Adam Salvaggio and a goal and an assist apiece from Conner Mosebrook, Gavin Burke and Connor Devine. Goalie Parker Henderer struggled at times in the first half, but bounced back to post a 10-save day.
“They started attacking our (short-stick midfielders) and we got caught a couple times without our core three or four defensive midfielders,” said EA LSM/defenseman Conner Delaney, who earned basketball All-Delco honors this winter. “We ask a lot of our short sticks and we have to help them out more, and that’s just paying more attention to detail, sliding hard and recovering hard. I know that (the Fords) have who they have, but we’ve just got to win our individual matchups. It’s not so much we’ve got to get to this kid, we’ve got to get the pole to this midfielder, we’ve just got to win our individual matchups. If we get beat, we have to slide and recover quickly.”
“We’ve been stressing coming out strong because we haven’t come out strong since the Culver game,” Mosebrook said. “When they put three goals on us, we had to take a step back. Everyone’s going to play us like it’s their Super Bowl and the best players come out fighting in all four quarters. We knew we could do it, but we just had to take our time.”
There was plenty to like for the Churchmen, though. Jake Floyd-Jones made eight of his nine saves in the first half, Martellucci made his case for the title of best midfielder in the Inter-Ac with his huge day and Henderson provided a spark when he took over at the faceoff X and won seven of 19 faceoffs, none bigger than the one he took down for his first career varsity goal to push the EA lead to 5-2.
“I was pretty hyped,” Henderson said. “We were up by (two), the ball came out and I had to score that. It was a wide-open net.”
Henderson later added a second, but it wasn’t enough. If the Churchmen want to reverse their fortunes against the Fords — EA hasn’t beaten Haverford since 2013 — they’ll have to eventually find a way to overcome the Fords’ depth and skill.
If history has shown anything, though, that’s much easier said than done.