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The Keystone Connection

July 23, 2020 - Major League Lacrosse (MLL) - Philadelphia Barrage News Release

Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State. And although it is actually a commonwealth; one thing that is not known is how Pennsylvania has impacted the professional lacrosse world.

 People usually think of two places when they think of lacrosse:

Canada and New York. Canada, as a whole, because it is almost impossible to argue that one Canadian spot is the best. (Even though Orangeville seems to be the hot spot for indoor goalies.) Canada gave Major League Lacrosse several thrills over the years with the magic of the Gait brothers and Tom Marechek. The Gait brothers, who stormed the lacrosse world, changed Major League Lacrosse for the better with their dazzling offensive skills. Marachek, going by "Hollywood" was the same way. His stickwork equated to California's special effects with his blonde hair completing the look.

 And New York is not to be outdone. This state, whose various programs created lacrosse legends like Mark Millon. Mark honed his skills. He is considered one of the best to ever play the game. He and many others continue to give back to the lacrosse community by sharing expertise with items like camps. One thing all these men have in common is that they all spent time in Philadelphia playing for the Philadelphia Wings.

 Neither Philadelphia nor it's surrounding communities used to be a hotbed of lacrosse. That has changed. In addition to the Philadelphia Wings who came back to the National Lacrosse League, the Philadelphia Barrage came back to Major League Lacrosse this season. One thing has become clear in this tournament: Philadelphia and the areas around it will be represented and making a case that people all over the world in various lacrosse communities should pay attention to this Keystone commonwealth. There are a lot of players currently playing in the MLL that either played collegiate ball in Philadelphia or areas near it. Others are connected to the commonwealth in some way.

The most obvious connection is the team-the Philadelphia Barrage. There are players from this team who meet the above requirements like Eddie Bouhall who played his college ball at Lehigh. Teammate Liam Byrnes played for the Philadelphia Wings this season. Mark Evanchick went to the University of Pennsylvania. Kevin Fox went to Penn State. Anthony Joaquim went to Saint Joe's and plays for the Philadelphia Wings. P.T. Ricci is from Wayne-not too far away from Philadelphia. Matt Whitcher went to York. And it is not just the players with ties to Philadelphia.

Brian Dougherty, an assistant coach for the Barrage, played for the original Philadelphia Barrage. He won a few championships with the team and is considered a legendary goalie. Also playing for the original Barrage was Kevin Keenan. Keenan has double Philadelphia connections because he grew up in Springfield-not far from Philadelphia.

 It is not just the Philadelphia Barrage with the Philadelphia influence. Several other teams have connections to Philadelphia as well. From the Chesapeake Bayhawks, C.J. Costabile played for the Philadelphia Wings. And teammate Ryan Keenan went to Penn State.

From Annapolis to Connecticut, the trend continues. Michael Bender went to high school at Emmaus. Ryan Beville is from Allentown. Jack Curran went to Villanova. Drew Schantz is from Allentown like Beville. Justin Schwenk is from Royersford, PA. Jon Hajjar was a student equipment manager for Temple University.

The connections do not end in Connecticut as we move up the United States into Boston.  Danny Seibel went to Villanova like Curran. Frank Brown played for the Philadelphia Wings last season.

Slipping from Boston to New York, Andrew Pettit went to Lehigh. Nick Spillane went to Penn State. Austin Kaut went to Penn State and is from Morton. Nick Aponte and Tommy Wright also went to Penn State. Coach B.J. O'Hara received a degree from Slippery Rock which is a good deal away from Philadelphia-but still in Pennsylvania.

The last team on the list-the Denver Outlaws. Tony Seaman coached at the University of Pennsylvania. He has the lone Philadelphia connection on this team.

 Pennsylvania has produced some fantastic players over the years. As players see more tournament play through clubs; it is possible that even more players will be suiting up from the areas around Philadelphia and the professional teams for a long time to come.

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