AS DEFENSEMAN Connor Black walked the perimeter of the Haverford School lacrosse field, it was easy to tell he was none too pleased.
Disappointment stained his face, which was chafed from the game's effort and yesterday's chilly conditions. The Fords fell, 7-6, against visiting St. Anthony's (Melville, N.Y.), which poured onto the field in raucous celebration of its come-from-behind victory.
After emotions subsided from both teams, Haverford sophomore Tommy McNamara started the process of cleaning up loose equipment on the field.
As others headed for the locker room, Black, one of the Fords' three senior captains, decided not to let his teammate play groundskeeper alone. It might be a menial job for a team leader, but not so, says Black. With fellow captains Connor Keating and Peter Blynn out with knee injuries, his role has gained significance.
"I had to take on more of a leadership role, because we lost two vocal captains, and I'm more of a quiet guy standing on the side," Black said. "But I've learned I have to get up for my teammates."
That includes cleanup crew.
"Everyone has to be a part of this team," he said. "It doesn't go down to the freshman and sophomores. It's a team effort. We don't just send one person to do something, because, then, it doesn't feel like a family."
That leadership role also will mean helping his team rebound from yesterday's loss.
The Fords (10-3) scored the game's first goal and didn't trail until senior midfielder J.T. Caputo gave St. Anthony's (5-2) a 5-4 advantage with 8:31 left in the game.
Junior attacker Grant Ament scored twice for the Fords, while sophomore attacker Dox Aitken added a goal and an assist. Black, who wields a defenseman's long stick, rifled home the goal that gave the Fords a 3-1 lead in the third quarter.
"Coming into this game, we knew it would be tough," Black said. "Kids from New York are always tough, but we always like to come into games with big energy, and we seemed to for three quarters, but we just made small mistakes which cost us."
A 2-minute penalty for unnecessary roughness might not have been a mistake, per se, but it proved costly in the fourth quarter. The whistle came with 8:43 left after a Fords defender crushed a Friars player to the ground after he had just received the ball.
A Haverford coach voiced acceptance of the infraction, but argued its duration. The length mattered little though, as Caputo scored 12 seconds later.
Ament (Penn State) tied the game with his second goal, but senior midfielder Connor Byrne drilled a low pond-skipper with 2:46 left for the Friars, and junior Joseph Licciardi added an empty-netter later to seal the win for St. Anthony's.
"We can't dwell on a loss like this, because it will expand in your head, and if we keep thinking about it, it will get the best of us," Black said. "We have to forget and move on to the next game."
The Fords host Avon Grove today at 4 p.m. and also host a big matchup with Malvern Prep on April 22.
Black, who lives in Ardmore, he's hopes to do his part, especially because this could be his final year of lacrosse. He said he wasn't ready for the game's physicality in his freshman and sophomore years and still had to adjust as a junior, even as a starter.
International business, with a minor in psychology, is his academic focus for college (he's considering Penn State), where he'll also study multiple languages ("Spanish, French and possibly Arabic").
Leave enough room for collegiate lacrosse?
"My heart is in one place at one time," he said, "but somewhere else another. I love the game and I love the hard work you have to put into it, but you have to look at the long term, and there's no lacrosse after 4 years in college."
"But lacrosse is a great game, and if you go into college, you'll have 40 instant friends, and that's one big part that I'm looking into."