By Chris Goldberg
LILacrosseNews.com, Posted 12/29/15
HATFIELD, Pa. – After heading into halftime tied 2-2 with Penn*Lax in tonight’s USBOXLA Northeast Regional High School Open title game, Team 91 coaches gave their players a thorough lecture.
“Our coach (Brian O’Keefe) had a nice little talk; he said we had to get our energy up and our minds in the right place,” said 2017 Will Cabrera. “We had to get our passes on. It helped us get the energy to start playing harder D and to pick up the passes and move it up field more.”
The motivational talk worked as Long Island-based Team 91 dominated the second half and rolled to an 8-3 win over the Philly-based Penn*Lax to repeat as Regional champion. Team 91, Penn*Lax and third-place finisher Blue Star will advance to the National championships in San Jose, Calif., in August.
Cabrera, a Yale commit out of of Scarsdale High, and had two goals and Locust Valley 2016 Mike Madsen (St. John’s signee) also scored two, including one early in the second half that put Team 91 ahead for good. Taylor Strough (Cold Spring Harbor, 2017 Fairfield commit), Joe Madsen (Locust Valley, 2016 St., John’s signee), Mac O’Keefe (Syosset, 2016 Penn State signee) and Keller Jacobs (St. Anthony’s, 2016 Scranton commit) also scored once while Noah Cohen (Hewlett, 2016) and John Hulsman (2017 Florida Tech commit from Westminster, MD) were strong in goal.
“We were playing our game, but coach wanted us to move the ball quicker,” said Cabrera. “We were holding it a little too much. We wanted to move it enough to keep the goalie guessing.”
Strough and Cabrera scored the game’s first two goals, but Penn*Lax rebounded to tie it on tallies by Chris Hladczuk (La Salle, 2017 Yale commit) and Joel Trucksess (Haverford School, 2017 Lehigh commit). Both goals were assisted by Michael Sowers (Upper Dublin, 2016 Princeton commit and U19 training team member).
“The coaches said we need to make our changes better; they were beating us up the floor,” said Mike Madsen. “We started meshing and flowing.
“Throughout this tournament we developed a chemistry that’s been unreal. We got a couple new guys and they’re great additions.”
Madsen, who has been playing box with Team 91 for five years, said many members of the team have grown up together as one of the first high-profile box programs on Long Island. Last year eight Team 91 members – including both Maden twins, O’Keefe and Cohen – were named to the USBOXLA Tour Team.
“As a core group we’ve probably been together since the start of box lacrosse on Long Island,” said Mike Madsen. “Now we are juniors and seniors in high school and we’re able to put everything together.”
Penn*Lax, which was formed this year by the tourney’s host team, Fusion Lacrosse, was a solid 3-1 in pool play and earned the berth into the finals.
“We’ve got freshmen through seniors and this is our first live event and it just takes some live action,” said co-coach Adam Mueller. “We had some some really nice indoor lacrosse plays, we just didn’t repeat them enough. Now, we’re going against a really really talented and well-coached team from 91 and they know their way around a little more.
“Maybe in a couple tournament we’ll be a little better and give them a better battle. But we’re proud of the kids that came out and worked hard. They’ll definitely be better players by going through the practices and playing in these games.”