RADNOR — After all they’d accomplished in 2021, Ryan Goldstein and his Radnor teammates entered this year feeling doubted.
Not from within, though that took some time to know for certain, but from the outside. Losing 14 seniors from the Central League and PIAA Class 3A champions meant many expected a step back. Even if they somehow managed to tread the same exemplary path, this trip would be harder. It’s one thing to get to the top. It’s another thing to stay there.
“It was definitely tough,” Goldstein said. “(In 2021), we were kind of hunting people, and then it kind of shifted the next year. But I think that just comes from, we knew everyone was gunning for us, so we had to keep getting better or better or else we were going to fall off. We couldn’t get complacent.”
Prevailing as the favorite wasn’t the only change. The basic on-field DNA remained the same – a stingy, team approach to defense; midfield depth; a versatile offense, orchestrated by Goldstein. But the leadership burden shifted. Without vocal leaders like Grant Pierce, the 2021 Daily Times Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year, and heart-and-soul defensive middie Mark McKeon, the team lacked last year’s talkers. Instead, players like the soft-spoken Goldstein took charge, setting the example of what would be expected.
“Last year, Mark and Grant … they were the vocal leaders,” Goldstein said. “This year, we kind of didn’t really have that. We were vocal sometimes, but it was a different kind of leadership to where everyone kind of stepped up and everyone, from what we did last year, kind of knew what to expect.”
In just about every category, Goldstein played a role, direct or indirect, in helping Radnor not just reach last year’s heights but somehow exceed them. They went 24-2, repeating as Central League champion. They added the District 1 Class 3A title, Goldstein authoring a masterclass in a finals bulldozing. And they captured a second straight state crown, and third since 2015.
For all of that, Goldstein is the 2022 Daily Times Boys Lacrosse Co-Player of the Year, sharing the honor with Max Busenkell.
They are joined on the first team All-Delco by Garnet Valley defenseman Sean Gallagher; Radnor defenseman Will Gallagher; the Episcopal Academy duo of Tristan Whitaker and Andrew McMeekin; the Haverford School trio of Teddy Malone, Will Costin and Chuck Cacciutti; Springfield’s Ryan O’Connor and Colin Hannigan; and Marple Newtown’s Charlie Box.
In a rarity, all 12 All-Delcos hail from a loaded senior class. Busenkell, Goldstein, McMeekin, O’Connor and Cacciutti were first teamers last year. Malone, Sean Gallagher, Hannigan and Box were on the second team. The All-Delco team is selected in consultation with area coaches.
Part of the challenge for Goldstein was a completely rebuilt attack line. Part of the upside was that no one player (perhaps Goldstein excepted) holds irreplaceable responsibility in that system.
Goldstein was outstanding in 2021, earning All-Delco honors by tallying 46 goals and 50 assists. His masterpiece was a two-goal, five-assist state final. He did that surrounded by three seniors rotating through two spots in attack – Damien Ramondo, Drew Cox and Jack Murphy.
This year, there was some uncertainty as to who would replace them. Colin French was advanced from midfield, where the Raptors have an embarrassment of depth. Mason Montrella occupied the other spot, a perfect foil for the pass-first Goldstein, always at the ready to catch and shoot.
The constant around which it all pivoted was Goldstein. And the development in his game meant he was hardly a static piece.
Goldstein was at times unstoppable. He accounted for 50 goals and a Delco-best 82 assists. In any non-Busenkell year, 132 points would be a more than worthy Delco-leading total. He kept the offense at the same output as last year, averaging an equivalent 12.3 goals per game. That balanced a defense that regressed from a ludicrous 3.96 goals allowed per game to a merely sensational 5.12 in 2022.
Goldstein also had a knack for when to step up, the catalyst in the biggest games. He had at least one goal and one assist in 21 of 26 games. He hit PIAA Class 2A runner-up Marple Newtown for a goal and six assists, Garnet Valley for two and four in the regular season, Downingtown East for four and four.
In districts: four and four vs. C.B. East in the quarters, four and three in a 10-9 win over Springfield in the semis, then one and seven in the first half to dismantle Downingtown East. That win was special, adding the district title jewel to Radnor’s crown. Improbably, it was the first District 1 crown for Radnor, since the PIAA started overseeing lacrosse in 2009. It allowed Raptors to be the first team since Conestoga in 2012 to win the league, district and state title in the same season in the biggest PIAA classification.
“The district title this year was a huge thing for us, because we haven’t done that,” Goldstein said. “It’s definitely something as your legacy as a team, something that’s special and you remember for a long time.”
The states run was special, too. Goldstein scored twice in each game, capping it with a two-goal, four-assist finale. By the time he exited, the Raptors were up 12-3 on Garnet Valley.
Goldstein’s next step will be one more year of high school lacrosse: He’ll take a postgrad year at Salisbury School in Connecticut before going to Cornell. This had long been Cornell’s plan, to help manage the glut of grad transfers and extra years for last year’s NCAA runner-up. At a position like attack, where three players get the vast majority of time, it’s more beneficial for Goldstein to get time and gain polish before college.
He’ll do that with a reputation as a certified winner.
“I think they’re two completely different runs,” he said. “In 2021, we didn’t know how good we were going to be. And in 2022, our team knew how good we could be. Everyone kind of doubted us, because we lost 14 seniors so that’s justified in that sense, but I think everyone at practice knew what we had here. I don’t know if a lot of other people knew. But that was the expectation, championship or bust, when we got later with the talent we had and the way we were looking in practice and some of the games. And that’s something that’s really hard to do.”
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