TOWAMENCIN >> Jack Farrell thought that his goal of playing Division I lacrosse had gone by the wayside.
The Haverford High senior longstick midfielder took a visit to Drexel and loved the school, but the Dragons couldn’t quite make things work financially for him. Undaunted, Farrell, an All-Delco linebacker, chose to play college football instead, opting for a spot at West Chester University.
Recently, though, the Dragons made another push to reel Farrell in by improving their offer, one that he couldn’t turn down. He committed to Brian Voelker’s program, and Thursday night, he showed why Drexel was enamored with him by helping the Fords to a 12-11 win over host North Penn in the second round of the District 1 Class 3A tournament. No. 10 Haverford will travel to No. 2 Garnet Valley Saturday at 2 p.m. in a rematch of the Jaguars’ 8-7 win on March 30.
Drexel is known in the college lacrosse recruiting world for its late recruiting. In a sport recently dominated by players as young as eighth and ninth grade committing, the Dragons opt to keep spots open for recruits well into their senior season. Voelker will be getting a good one in Farrell, who scored a goal and blocked a shot on a North Penn man-up with less than two minutes to go that served as a segue to Luke McCallion’s game-sealing goal with 1:23 to play.
“I always feel confident in my defense, especially with Dan Tierney in net,” Farrell said. “Dan’s a brick wall. He makes every big save that we need him to and I’ve got confidence in the guys behind me like Mike Dice, Tom Fredericks and Mike Romanofsky. They’re all great defensive players. They know what they’re doing and I always know that they’ll come through in the end.”
Tierney was the first to admit that he didn’t have his finest effort, but like Farrell alluded to, he came through in the clutch. North Penn (13-5) had a chance to tie it after Nick Conroy scored to cut the deficit to one with 33.4 seconds to go and the Knights got a good look when multi-sport standout Reece Udinski fired one, but Tierney gobbled it up and the Fords (14-5) ran out the clock.
“I was not expecting anything. I was just staying ready for whatever, keep my eye focused on the ball and just waiting to see what happened,” said Tierney, who stopped eight shots. “I just knew I had to clear it, because the save prior, I went to fake and it popped out and I gave it right back.”
As he’s been for the better part of two seasons, McCallion was the Fords’ go-to guy again. The Vermont commit was otherworldly at the faceoff X, winning 20 of 27 faceoffs, including 18 of the final 21 after a shaky 2-for-6 opening quarter. Oh, and McCallion also buried four goals and set up two others to lead the Haverford offense to double-digit goals for the sixth time in the past eight games. The Fords remained unbeaten in games where they scored 10 or more goals.
“I told myself I had to make adjustments,” McCallion said. “Most faceoff guys usually clamp, pinch and pop and pull behind. They were standing up and lasering (a swipe at the ball instead of a clamp). They were more defensive faceoff guys, so I had to work on pulling it behind and figuring stuff out from there.”
There’s no doubt that McCallion’s dominance had an effect on the Knights’ psyche.
“Faceoffs are huge,” said North Penn’s Eric Diamond, who scored twice and set up another. “(McCallion) is a great faceoff guy. When they’re getting possession after possession, it’s hard to stop their runs and go on one of our own.”
Despite its struggles at containing McCallion, North Penn still had opportunities to win. Udinski, the District 1 football record-holder for most passing yards in a season, played the role of quarterback in the Knights’ offense. He dished out six assists — including four in the third quarter — to go with a goal. Haverford responded with a balanced offense led by McCallion and Jack Daly (three goals, two assists) to cement its spot in the quarterfinals, a first for the Fords’ seniors. They’re all too happy for another crack at the co-Central League champion Jaguars.
“It’s different,” Farrell said. “We were up 7-2 at halftime (against Garnet Valley). Of course, they were without Matt Moore, but it’s just another challenge. We think we’ve gotten a lot better since then. We’ve matured and we think we’re going to be all right. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to feel like just another Central League game.”
That tends to be a theme at this time of year.