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Harriton–Lower Merion lacrosse rivalry holds special meaning for Wackerman family

Lower Merion >> When Harriton and Lower Merion High Schools release their boys’ lacrosse schedules, both teams point to one particular regular season contest: the Harriton–LM game.
Not only is it a key Central League match-up, the contest allows the victor to enjoy the spoils that come with it in the Lower Merion School District.
While it holds special meaning for players, families and alumni, for the past three years it has been very memorable for the Wackerman family. Their older son James plays for Lower Merion while younger brother Leo represents Harriton.
“The LM vs. Harriton games have always been very special to me over my lacrosse career at LM,” said James. “Having a brother (Leo) on the other side on top of the already competitive rivalry between LM and Harriton has always made it a game that I look forward to.”
“The Harriton vs. LM game has always been special,” added Leo, a junior at Harriton. “This year had extra meaning because we knew it was going to be the last time we were going to be on the field together.”
Although the weather was not ideal when Harriton and Lower Merion took the field April 19, the spirited crowd did their best to support the township rivalry that holds special meaning for those involved.
While LM had some chances early, it was Harriton who ended up taking control early, leading 5-2 after one quarter of play en route to the 15-7 victory.
The Rams victory marked another step in the strides Harriton head coach Joe Proud and his staff have seen with a team playing a tough schedule. Early this season the Rams picked up come from behind non-league wins over Plymouth-Whitemarsh and Methacton to accompany a Central League win over Ridley.
“We have a good group of kids who have generally been working hard and getting better as we go,” said Proud. “I really enjoy coaching this team and picking up a win over Lower Merion always means a lot for these kids. I think we still have untapped potential and are working to play our best lacrosse at the end of the season. We have to really bear down and go after each opportunity to play and improve with a passion.”
On the other side of the field, Lower Merion is experiencing growing pains as the Aces continue to make strides.
“The season has been a bit of a struggle,” said Lower Merion coach Roland D’Ortone. “We got off to a strong start with a convincing win over Upper Merion but followed that up with a disappointing performance against Haverford. We then had another convincing win over Upper Darby but have struggled since then.”
D’Ortone added, “The Lower Merion- Harrition rivalry has become the biggest game on our schedule. Our guys know their guys and truly do route for them to be successful in all of their games except one. We know bragging rights are at stake and losing this game hurts just a little more because the likelihood of seeing their team around is pretty high for the remainder of the year.”
“Yes, I really wanted this one badly, especially after last years close loss,” said James Wackerman. “Realizing that it might be the last time I ever play lacrosse against my brother’s team definitely gave me the extra motivation I needed to leave it all on the field during my last bout with Harriton”
“It mean a lot to get this win,” said his brother Leo. “I realize James wanted this one badly and I felt bad for him, but it felt good to earn this win.”
D’Ortone said, “We talked pre-game about making James’ dinner that night taste a little better if we could send him home with a win. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this year, but it gives you sense of how close the rivalry is.”

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