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Aces' loss ends duo's partnership

Seniors Andrew Mongeluzzi and Jordan Wolf had stellar careers.

As the buzzer sounded, Andrew Mongeluzzi and Jordan Wolf, two senior attacks on the Lower Merion boys' lacrosse team, collapsed to the ground with their heads faced down and buried in their hands.

After what must have been an agonizing few minutes, the two got up and found each other, patted the other on the back, and hugged.

Since the pair had celebrated hundreds of wins, goals, and other accomplishments together, it seemed only appropriate that the two would find solace in each other after a devastating loss, ending both of their stellar high school careers.

"They are both very dynamic offensive players," Lower Merion coach Chet Laubach said. "Jordan is probably the best . . . most dominating, offensive player in the area. Andrew is an excellent finisher. They work very well together, and they have been a big part of our success the past few years."

Mongeluzzi and Wolf scored eight of their team's 11 goals, but it wasn't enough for the Aces, as they fell to Emmaus in the first round of the PIAA state tournament for the second straight year, 12-11.

The two have broken several Lower Merion records. Mongeluzzi holds the all-time single-season scoring mark with 76 this season, while Wolf owns the Aces' all-time points and assists records, previously held by one of Lower Merion's assistant coaches, John Christmas.

Wolf, a two-time all-American, is headed to Duke, which won Monday's NCAA title game over Notre Dame, and Mongeluzzi is headed to Towson.

The duo first started playing together as fifth graders, when they were part of the Ashbee Lacrosse Club, a youth organization in Lower Merion.

Mongeluzzi started playing for Ashbee in second grade, when his father, Bob, coached him.

"My parents really encouraged me to go out and try it," Andrew Mongeluzzi said. "I loved the sport since then. I went out there and had more fun doing that than anything else."

Wolf joined the team in fifth grade, even though he had picked up the sport when he was 9. Lacrosse started out as his third priority, behind ice hockey and soccer, but soon took over as his favorite. He went as far as to stop playing club hockey and soccer to focus more on lacrosse.

"I really loved [lacrosse], but I seemed more into playing soccer all year round," Wolf said. "Didn't start taking it more seriously until seventh or eighth grade."

Mongeluzzi and Wolf went to different middle schools, Andrew to Friends' Central and Jordan to Bala Cynwyd, where they both found success. They played together in the spring for Ashbee and then later for the Duke's Lacrosse Club, a year-round organization for high school players in the tri-state area.

"We became friends right away," Wolf said. "He is the counterpart to me being a dodger, feeder. He's a finisher."

The boys parted ways again when it came time for high school, as Mongeluzzi went to Friends' Central and Wolf went to Lower Merion. As freshmen, they had similar experiences, impacting their school's programs in a huge way.

After Mongeluzzi's sophomore year, he transferred to Lower Merion.

"Switching to a more competitive league [and] for academic purposes being able to go to Lower Merion was a blessing," he said.

Wolf welcomed Mongeluzzi as a friend and as a teammate desperate to improve the Aces, who hadn't performed well in the playoffs in Wolf's first two seasons.

Their chemistry never went away, even though the two spent several seasons on different squads and practicing with different coaches, systems and teams, something Mongeluzzi attributes to "maturing over the ninth- and 10th-grade years."

The last two seasons, Wolf and Mongeluzzi have helped Lower Merion compete in the extremely competitive Central League in District 1, as well as to qualify for the PIAA state tournament.

"He is a huge part of the puzzle that led us to that," Wolf said of Mongeluzzi.

While the loss to Emmaus is the end of Wolf and Mongeluzzi's partnership, the two could face off against one another in next year's NCAA Division I tournament.

"We knew it would come down to separating at one point," Mongeluzzi said.

They are confident, however, that they will continue to play with one another in summer and men's leagues.

"We're not splitting up our lacrosse playing," Wolf said. "I don't think we ever will."

"I don't think that's even an option," Mongeluzzi said.