The Central League has reached the halfway point in its campaign, and things are, well, muddled. Injuries have made their mark on the standings, and in a league that is usually easy to at least break into top and bottom halves, an unusual quantity of upsets occurred in the last week to disrupt that order. Saturday marks one of the biggest days on the lacrosse calendar, with the Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival and thousands of spectators descending on Radnor as some of the East Coast’s best teams convene. Before that happens, let’s see where everyone in Delco stands, as well as getting a glance at updated stat leaders. (Records through April 21.)
1. Haverford School (10-3) Last Week: No. 1
Next Friday’s home date with Malvern Prep is likely to determine if there’s a split or outright Inter-Ac champion. Both teams face difficult weeks, with Episcopal Academy preceding Haverford on Malvern’s slate, while the Fords scheduled Manheim Township early in the week, one of the top non-SE-PA teams. Both Haverford (Brunswick School) and Malvern (Hun School) have difficult games at Katie Samson. The Inter-Ac is often a straightforward hierarchy with few upsets, but will that continue to be the case?
2. Strath Haven (9-1) Last Week: No. 4
The Panthers saw their unbeaten run end with Thursday’s 10-8 loss to Conestoga. But even in defeat, the game offers an interesting barometer of both teams. Conestoga is solidifying its championship credentials, though the Pioneers still have the next three teams in these rankings left on the schedule. The Panthers have few weaknesses – from a good goalie in Will Brake, to a very good faceoff man in Hunter Mazur to Jeffrey Conner orchestrating a varied and potent attack.
3. Garnet Valley (6-3) Last Week: No. 2
The 10-5 loss to Springfield is most alarming for the spread between the teams. For all their attacking options, it seems the Jaguars are vulnerable when shutdown defenders can muzzle Matt Moore, as Springfield’s Pat Smyth did Tuesday. Moore has a goal and two assists total in two of the Jags’ three losses, to Springfield and Malvern Prep.
4. Haverford (9-1) Last Week: No. 6
I’ll admit, I thought Haverford had a good team this season. I didn’t think they’d have a team capable of beating Radnor at home and putting a hurt on Penncrest in the same week. But that’s what the Fords did, and they rise in the rankings as a result. Also, Bobby McClure has 71 points this season for a team averaging 14.4 goals per game. Both quantities are fairly ridiculous.
5. Penncrest (7-2) Last Week: No. 3
The loss to Haverford was stark, especially since the Fords started out with a 6-0 lead. That letdown in the first game since Garnet Valley’s loss to Springfield reignited Penncrest’s chances of a Central League title split is particularly disappointing. The Fords scored two long-pole goals via Jack Farrell and Mike Romanofsky in that game, which should concern Penncrest. Even more worrying for the Lions is that the offensive options haven’t emerged. Max Daugherty and TJ Sims have contributed consistently, but if opponents shut down Alex Bonnett (as Haverford did) or Ryan Kinnard, the Lions struggle.
6. Springfield (5-5) Last Week: NR
When you base a team around the strong defensive principles that Tom Lemieux does, offensive hiccups are surmountable. Exclude the early loss to Spring-Ford when Springfield was shorthanded defensively, and they’ve surrendered just 4.9 goals per game. Between that and Kyle Long’s surge (19 assists in four games), the defending District One champs are back on track.
7. Episcopal Academy (3-7) Last Week: NR
Now this is closer to the Churchmen team that you expect. They’ve won three of four, the only loss to Haverford School. Guys are getting healthy, with Jake Martellucci back and Connor Ringwalt asserting himself. They’ve got three games left against the big guns in the Inter-Ac (two against Malvern) to see if they can interlope on the Malvern/Haverford duopoly.
Honorable Mention: Radnor (5-5, injuries to Westy McLaughlin and Clayton Proctor, the latter of which appears to be long-term, casts serious doubt on the Raiders attack’s ability to put the pieces together); Ridley (5-6, the Green Raiders have lost five straight games – though by a combined eight goals – as injuries seem to be taking their toll); Marple Newtown (6-5, it took until the sixth try for the Tigers to get their first Central League win, but with the conference’s upheaval, hope that Marple can upend a top team isn’t outlandish).