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Lessons Learnt on Academy Tour

Thursday 30th: Avon Grove 8 – 6 England Academy 
Thursday started early with Mike Murphy Head Coach of nationally ranked 9th Penn University and Pat Meyers his Offensive Assistant. Again the coaching session keyed on the fundamentals of the game and both coaches reiterated how much time they spend on this with their players. The Academy were put through their paces with a series of drills that focused on passing catching and tracking the ball correctly before working on unsettled situations and using space effectively offensively whilst hedging and protecting the lanes on defence. The team then moved on to Avon Grove for the game, a team who lost in the final of the public school State Championship earlier in the year. The home team started quickly inverting the midfield players and popping the crease man to the weak side, and the score was 4 – 1 to the grove at the end of the first quarter. The D made there adjustments and the offence rallied to mount a comeback to get within one at 5 – 4 at the half. Turn overs proved costly in the 3rd as the home team moved out to a 3 goal lead, again the Academy came back to cut the deficit to 2 and had a number of chances to make life interesting but the Avon goalie stood strong. At the end of the game the parents of the Avon players provided food for both teams and the players socialised together.

Friday 31st: LaSalle 11 England Academy 4
The LaSalle team coached by defensive guru Tony Resch operate a locked door policy and the Academy didn’t have the key. The players worked extremely hard and can be proud of their effort but had no answer to the lock down defence. For the 1st time we looked a little leg weary in the midfield battle, but never gave up and fought to the end. Again the whole defence stood strong and didn’t buckle playing against a fast paced offence that included future Johns Hopkins committed players. Following the game the squad travelled to Penn to watch Mike Murphy and his staff run a full scale practice with the Penn team before enjoying a cultural tour of the university including a walk round the University Stadium Franklin Field where the football team were practicing.

Saturday 1st: West Chester 4 England Academy 15
The Academy played solid lacrosse at both ends of the field with settled offence and strong defence whilst controlling the game at faceoff against a spirited West Chester Team. This lead to consistent scoring over the 4 qtrs. as everyone stuck to the game plan, and the players were duly rewarded with a great win. Both sets of players socialised after the game whilst the West Chester parents provided food. State Representative Dan Truitt broke off from his ‘midterm’ campaign trail to welcome the Academy and present us with a commemorative state flag.

Sunday 2nd: Quaker fest Tournament @ Radnor
On Sunday the team took part in the Quaker fest tournament which is one of the leading tournaments in the Country and attracts high calibre All Stars team from different areas across the eastern seaboard. A ‘who’s who’ of Division 1, 2, & 3 coaches lined the fields to watch the action on a very cold and windy day. The Academy showed great skill and courage to run with the three teams we played against, Twist (PA), FLG (Long Island), & Dukes (PA). Losing narrowly in all three games including another one goal ‘nail biter’ in the first game.

On the final day the squad relaxed and visited Citizen Bank park home of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, including a stadium tour and an opportunity to have a go in the batting cage. The group effectively played 10 days of continuous lacrosse with many playing in league games on the day before travel, and showed a great deal of resilience to play to the final whistle of the final game. We were all exposed to outstanding levels of play and tremendously informative clinics, and many lessons were learned during a tough but enjoyable trip.

By: Dave Elwood
Images: Alison Cara