Hill Academy Shows Off Pipeline on Trip South
by Mark Macyk | LaxMagazine.com
|Brodie Merrill's Hill Academy
brought its varsity team (ninth, 10th and 11th graders), including
attackman Chris Cloutier, along with uncommitted members of its
prep (12th grade) team Friday night to PPL Park.
© Kevin P. Tucker
CHESTER, Pa. — There's at least one Canadian pipeline that American colleges are eager to continue to draw from: The Hill Academy, which keeps pumping its players onto NCAA lacrosse rosters.
Brodie Merrill, the school's lacrosse director, brought a small Canadian army of red-and-black clad lacrosse players from the Ontario school to Friday's Philly Charity Showdown, organized by NXTsports, at PPL Park. Coaches from nearly every Division I program were on hand to witness how dominant The Hill's players can be, as they downed Haverford (Pa.), 13-2.
"How could we turn down the opportunity to play in this environment, in this stadium, in front of all these coaches?" Merrill said. "It's a pretty a unique opportunity. It's a long way for us to come, but it's very worthwhile."
The same can be said about attending the Hill. Seventeen past and present Hill students played in the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U-19 World championships this summer in Finland (10 for Canada, five for the Iroquois, one for the Czech Republic and one for Wales), and it's become increasingly common to find Hill players populating the rosters of American college teams.
According to the Hill's website, recent alumni have suited up for North Carolina, Lehigh, Robert Morris, Providence, St. John's, Penn State, Marquette, Michigan, Jacksonville, Vermont, Albany, Limestone, RIT, Virginia Wesleyan and Florida State.
That number will surely increase after this weekend. Several Hill players made names for themselves against elite competition from Haverford, which is one of the best high school teams in Pennsylvania, went 21-2 last season and finished No. 6 in Lacrosse Magazine's year-end national rankings.
Displaying that famous Canadian humbleness, players indicated afterwards that they had just hoped to play their best. But success is clearly the norm for the team managed by Merrill, one of the most decorated players in the game's history.
"They teach us so much," said Chris Cloutier, an attackman, who will graduate from the Hill in 2014. "Everyone just gets better and better every day. It's amazing."
This season marks Cloutier's first with the Hill, but he's been playing lacrosse since his babysitter's son gave him a stick in his younger days. Cloutier's previous school didn't have a team, so prior to this season he played club and junior A. This year he decided to make a move in order to be seen by an NCAA team.
"It's always been a dream of mine to come and play college in the states," Cloutier said. "Then I heard about the Hill and all the great exposure and all the guys who come out. It's just amazing. Not too many people get this experience."
The Hill brought down its varsity team (ninth, 10th and 11th graders) along with uncommitted members of its prep (12th grade) team. That gave freshmen like Jeffrey Teat a chance to shine.
"It feels too good to be true," Teat said. "To come down here after a long road trip, and win, I don't think everybody gets to get this opportunity and I feel honored to be here."
The team played again in Philly on Saturday and was to take a detour on the nine-hour bus ride home for another event Tuesday on Long Island.
"It's really fun to watch them come together as a group," Merrill said. "Just for them to experience this with each other."
An experience they didn't take for granted. Standing on the sideline after the game, in front of so many college coaches, in Philadelphia's Major League Soccer stadium and the host of two 2012 NCAA quarterfinals, Cloutier looked like a guy realizing his collegiate dreams aren't so far off.
"I never got this in Canada," he said. "That's for sure. I love it."