Ethan Powley received an e-mail on Friday that framed his appearance in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic in perfect perspective. Duke Coach John Danowski, fresh off his second national title in four years, offered the recent Paul VI graduate and Blue Devil recruit a pat on the back for his selection to the senior all-star game and a reminder of the stakes:
“It’s your last time to get out there with no pressure,’” Danowski wrote in part, according to Powley. “Go ahead and get out all the behind-the-back passes and one-handed ground balls now. Have fun with it.”
Powley, a long-stick midfielder for the South squad, kept the message in mind as Saturday’s eighth-annual contest turned into a breakneck shootout. In a back-and-forth display of offensive fireworks, the South team featuring Powley and three other local players defeated the North, 28-24, at Towson University.
Calverton grad Nick Mazza (Penn State) scored three goals and Stone Bridge All-Met Dylan Maltz (Syracuse) added a pair to help the South pull away late. Matt Rambo, a University of Maryland-bound attackman from Pennsylvania, took most valuable player honors with eight goals as the teams combined for 52 goals and 137 shots in a 60-minute game.
“I think that was probably the most goals I’ve ever seen in a game, playing or watching,” said Powley, who started the game alongside Bullis All-Met defender Nick Fields. “It was like a football score, basically.”
In the preceding girls’ game, the South team featuring 12 local players fell, 18-16. Two-time All-Met Player of the Year Carly Reed of St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (North Carolina) finished with two goals and an assist and Steph Lazo of St. Mary’s Annapolis (Penn State) scored twice, but the South failed to protect its slim halftime lead.
Marriotts Ridge All-Met Alex McKay, a University of Maryland-bound defender, scooped a game-high six ground balls. McKay’s high school and future college teammate Zoe Stukenberg, a two-time All-Met, had a goal and an assist and led all players with five draw controls.
For Powley, the all-star appearance capped an eventful senior season. He became the first Paul VI player selected to the eighth-annual game when he was named an injury replacement last month, taking the spot of Maryland recruit Mac Pons (ankle).
Behind a strong group of veterans, Paul VI posted 20 wins en route to its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title game berth and the No. 3 spot in The Post’s final rankings, but Powley was forced to watch much of the run from the sideline.
Powley missed eight weeks with a broken jaw after taking an errant stick under his helmet in an early win over Georgetown Prep, his greatest concern at the time learning to take his meals in liquid form. After an arduous recovery, he returned for the playoffs and helped the Panthers finish runner-up in both the WCAC and Virginia independent schools tournaments.
Powley has a plate and three screws in the left side of his jaw and will continue to wear a specially molded mouthpiece, but he has no lingering side effects from the fluke injury that threatened to derail his final season at the Fairfax private school.
Last week, Powley helped his club team, Baltimore Crabs, take a title at the prestigious Vail Shootout in Colorado, earning a spot on the all-tournament team. He said he’s done with competition for the summer before heading to Duke in mid-August. He’ll major in economics and also participate in the school’s ROTC program.
While offense stole the spotlight on Saturday, Powley said he’s grateful for his all-star experience, playing before a national television audience on ESPNU and a double-digit contingent of friends and family at Johnny Unitas Stadium.
The long pole earned bragging rights over the five Duke recruits on the North squad and a better idea of what it’s like trying to stop college-ready offense.
“I guess it was kind of an intro for what to expect in college,” Powley said. “At the next level, they’re all going to be able to shoot like that. There’s going to be six kids on the field at all times who can all score from anywhere and dodge with both hands. It was neat to be able to dip your feet into that a little bit already.”