Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 22
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
DIVISION WINNER: Hun School boys’ lacrosse senior midfielder Brendan Gallagher slings the ball in a game this spring. Gallagher’s bruising and skilled play in the midfield helped Hun go 14-1 and win the Bianchi-Curcio Division championship.

With Class of 2009 Focusing on Team Concept, Hun Boys’ Lax Produces Memorable Season

Bill Alden

After producing a 14-1 record this spring, the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team had plenty of worthy candidates for the squad’s MVP award.

Senior attackmen Zach Martin and Harry Blackburn triggered the run-and-gun offense while bruising classmate Brendan Gallagher was a battering ram in the midfield.

On defense, senior Stephen Norman provided spirit and big hits while sophomore goalie Peter Blackburn directed traffic and came up with clutch saves all season long.

But when Hun head coach Bill Quirk did a count of the MVP ballots he passed out to his players, the box marked “No MVP” won in a landslide with 18 of 25 players opting for that choice.

In Quirk’s view, the team’s choice to not single out any player was the final evidence of the one-for-all, all-for-one spirit that made the Raiders special.

“That showed the team concept,” said Quirk, referring to the MVP vote.

“The whole idea from the beginning of the season was that we should be a team and not worry about individuals. We don’t split up the locker room between varsity and JV so you would see the older kids helping the younger ones. They would help them stringing a stick or talking about how to shoot.”

The team’s oldest kids, the 13 members of its Class of 2009, set the positive tone.

“They had a tremendous impact, the returning kids will learn from that,” said Quirk, the Hun athletics director who was in his first year coaching the Raider lacrosse program.

“They took the game seriously but they had fun. We are trying to establish a tradition. It is tough in a prep school where you have attrition and different kids coming in. When a new kid comes into our program, the older kids can tell him this is what we expect and this is what we do.”

Although Hun had hoped for a different result in its only loss, a 14-9 setback to Lawrenceville in the state Prep A title game, the Raiders stuck with the program in their final two games of the season.

Hun routed Somerville 18-4 in their first outing after the loss to the Big Red and then ended the season with a 14-9 win over Voorhees to earn the Bianchi-Curcio Division title outright.

While Quirk admitted that the defeat to Lawrenceville was deflating, he said the team was energized for the game against Voorhees and its title shot.

“The division title was on the line against Voorhees,” said Quirk.

“If we had lost to them, there would have been a three-way tie for the title. It was the last game of the season and the last game for the Class of 2009. It was hard not to get excited. I said to them, I don’t think we want to share a title.”

The Raiders weren’t about to let some raindrops deter them from their championship mission.

“We started in the rain against Hill and it started pouring as soon as we hit the field against Voorhees,” recalled Quirk, who got 10 points in the win from Harry Blackburn on six goals and four assists with Martin and Gallagher chipping in four points apiece.

“They play on a field they have labeled as “The Pit” and it was very muddy and slippery that day. The guys played hard; there were no restraints. In other games, we would try to pass the ball and share the wealth a little bit. Harry probably had the best game of his career. Brendan did a great job on faceoffs.”

It was great for Quirk to see the Raiders come through with the title.

“It meant a lot,” asserted Quirk. “Going into the season we were shooting for three titles — the Prep A, the Mid-Atlantic Prep League, and the Bianchi. It was great to get one of them.”

The returning players have some big shoes to fill as they look to keep in the title hunt.

“We have only four seniors and we expect them to step up as leaders,” added Quirk.

“The rising juniors, guys like Peter Blackburn and Will Sweetland will also be called on to step up. They have played with these guys so they know what to do.”

Quirk, who has been involved with Hun athletics since 1980, knows it was a treat to help the players in the Class of 2009 end things on a high note.

“It is one of the most fun years I have had,” said Quirk. “The record is not mine; it belongs to the Class of 2009. They take it with them. For me, it was great to be around this group. There was a mutual respect. I couldn’t ask for more from them; they gave me their heart and soul this season.”

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