By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, June 15, 2007
After four years playing on a tradition-rich team, Connor Reilly's high school career appeared to end with a whimper.
Then a package arrived in the mail last month.
If not for the package, his final game before heading off to Princeton would have been Landon's loss in the IAC tournament -- and not even in the championship game, which the Bears have won 23 times, including Reilly's freshman and sophomore seasons. His final game as a prep player would have been a defeat against Georgetown Prep that left Landon in a disappointing fourth place.
Instead, Reilly opened the package to discover he still had one more game to play -- the boys' contest in the All-America Lacrosse Classic, an event founded last season that pits 22 seniors apiece on North and South teams at Loyola College tomorrow.
For players such as Reilly, who didn't get to conclude his high school career with a state or league championship, it will be an opportunity to erase that whimper and insert a bang. It also will afford all players an opportunity to brandish their skills with many stars they will see at the next level -- every player on the roster has committed to a major Division I lacrosse program.
"I'm definitely looking forward to it and definitely want to go out remembering it," Reilly said. "Especially playing with a few of the guys I've played against, like Bray Malphrus [from Georgetown Prep], it's going to be exciting. Over the past few years, he's been matched up on me, so I kind of have a rivalry with him and he's shut me down a few times. So to conclude high school playing with guys like him, a guy I have a lot of respect for, it's going to be an exciting way to finish high school."
The Washington area has six boys and eight girls playing in the classic, as well as one coach -- Mount Hebron's Brooke Kuhl-McClelland, who will lead the South girls.
Besides Reilly, Severn's Nick Elsmo, St. Stephen's/St. Agnes's Mark White and Georgetown Prep's Kevin Ridgway, Ryan Shuler and Malphrus will suit up for the South boys.
In the girls' game, the South team includes Centennial's Corcoran Downey, Mount Hebron's Jackie Doherty, Jacqueline Giles and Bria Eulitt, and St. Stephen's/St. Agnes's Katherine Denkler, Liz Downs, Mia Hurrin and Lauren Thomas.
All of those players, according to boys South Coach Bryan Kelly, will remember tomorrow.
"You want your last game to always be your best game," said Kelly, who coaches Calvert Hall in the Baltimore area. "I remember my times of retiring from lacrosse, I just wanted my last hurrah to be my best and end on top. They're going to remember this game for the rest of their lives and they'll remember if they won or lost."
Of the local boys participating, only White is coming off a championship, which came in the Virginia Independent Schools Division I tournament.
By contrast, Downey, who found out about her invitation to the classic a week before the Maryland 3A/2A state tournament, is the only local girls player in tomorrow's game who did not win a state title. St Stephen's/St. Agnes won the VIS D-I tournament and Mount Hebron won the Maryland 3A/2A championship.
"It was nice to know I'd get to play one more game before I go off to college," Downey said. "As a player who doesn't get to finish with a state championship, it's kind of a nice way to close out my high school career."