Spalding beats heat, cruises to NHSLS title (VIDEO HERE!)




Tucker Denault (left) and Russell Melendez combined for four goals Tuesday for Archbishop Spalding lacrosse. The Cavaliers won the National High School Lacrosse Showcase Session II championship with a victory over Texas’ Westlake at Blandair Park in Columbia.

by Derek Toney

By the end of the Session II championship game at the National High School Lacrosse Showcase at Blandair Park early Tuesday afternoon, the temperature on the main turf field was more than to 100 degrees.

It didn’t bother Archbishop Spalding. The Cavaliers won title with a 9-2 victory over Texas’ Westlake.

Rising senior attack Russell Melendez finished with three goals and three assists for Spalding, and rising sophomore Ryan Schrier added a goal and an assist. Rising junior goalie Jake Oliver recorded six saves.

The Anne Arundel County school dominated on the final day of five-day recruiting showcase, scoring the game’s first six goals in the title game. Spalding led wire-to-wire in a 13-4 victory over New Jersey’s Summit in the semifinal Tuesday morning.

“We brought in and played hard,” said Spalding coach Ben Phipps. “Sometimes it wasn’t pretty but we got the job done. That’s kind of how we’ll have success going forward.”

Spalding went 9-9 (4-6 in MIAA A) this past spring, but picked up a landmark first victory over Boys’ Latin School. The Lakers reached their 10th straight MIAA A tournament semifinal in May.

In 2018, Spalding knocked off another MIAA A “blue blood” in Loyola Blakefield. The Cavaliers, who joined the MIAA A in 2004, have qualified for postseason play just once (2008).

“We were kind of young last year but those kids can put up a fight,” said Spalding rising senior midfielder Tucker Denault, who’s committed to Jacksonville University. “I think we’re a more physical and tough group. The Spalding name is definitely going to change.”

The Cavaliers, who lost their final game in pool play Sunday, made an impression Monday. They led by as many as 11 goals against Summit after a 6-goal run broke a 1-1 tie.

Denault, Patrick Turner, Michael Weisshaar, Melendez, Finnian Kelly and Schrier each scored to start the title match. Seven players scored in all for Spalding.

“We started off a little slow every game, but we kept picking it up,” said Melendez, who’s committed to Marquette. “Coach told us not let up.”

Spalding finished 6-1 in the NHSLS, one of the top summer events. The tournament present teams an early start on the next spring season while college coaches get the opportunity to see prospects in a team setting.

“This is the first time we’ve seen our 2020 team,” said Phipps. “It’s great to build some camaraderie and confidence and play in front of a ton of college coaches. It’s a win-win for us.”

National High School Lacrosse Showcase

at Blandair Park/Oakland Mills High

Tuesday’s results

Spalding 13, Summit (NJ) 4

Spalding 9, Westlake (TX) 2
Goals: Spalding – Melendez 3, Denault, Turner, Weisshaar, Kelly, Schrier, Stramanak; Westlake – Walker, Duncan
Assists: Spalding – Melendez, Schrier; Westlake – Duncan
Saves: Spalding – Oliver 6; Westlake – Brown 5
Spalding 6 3 – 9
Westlake 1 1 – 2
Other games
Pride Lacrosse Club 9, St. Francis (NY) 4
Glenelg Country 7, Radnor (PA) 5
Jupiter (FL) 8, Tide Lacrosse Club 7