Maryland: Bullis Outlasts St. Stephen's-St. Agnes, Wins First IAC Tourney Title

Maryland: Bullis Outlasts St. Stephen's-St. Agnes, Wins First IAC Tourney Title (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)
Maryland: Bullis Outlasts St. Stephen's-St. Agnes, Wins First IAC Tourney Title (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

3d Rising fought through the rain and made the drive to Potomac, Maryland, Sunday night for the IAC championship game – one that featured a different look than IAC title matchups of recent seasons.

It was the Bullis School, a team that went undefeated in the conference during the regular season, who ended up hoisting the trophy thanks to a gritty 9-5 win over St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School in poor weather conditions, but in front of an emotional crowd on the Bulldogs’ home turf.

A grudge match early on, with both defenses up to task in the first two quarters. Bullis was up 3-2 at the half, with two of those goals coming on diving goals from attackmen Alex Trippi and Petkevich.

In the second half, Bulldogs found some separation by piecing together two multi-goal runs, eventually holding steady for the 9-5 victory. It was Bullis’ second win of the year over SSSA; the Bulldogs won the first meeting on April 29 by a score of 7-5.

The powerful Bulldogs offense led the way in the IAC finale, with the all-Division I attack trio of junior Trippi and seniors Petkevich and Steven Shollenberger shining as they each contributed three goals in the win, accounting for all of the team’s goals.

Trippi, who finished the season with more than 100 points, added a pair of assists in the victory.

We caught up afterward with Bullis head coach Jeff Bellistri, who played Division I lacrosse at Navy and is the father of current Brown standout attackman Kylor Bellistri. He spoke about the big win, the Bulldogs’ style of play, the development and achievements of the graduating senior class and the excitement of following his son’s progress this season while having a successful season of his own.

We also spoke with Shollenberger, who is destined for Drexel after graduating.

Here’s some quick notes on a few of the players who really stood out in this one. 

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Alex Trippi, Attack, Bullis School, Jr. – North Carolina

Trippi proved to be the biggest challenge for the Saints’ defense, as he’s so quick with his body and stick that he can direct the offense and create movement easily when carrying with the smallest step or body fake. He’s more powerful, more shifty than he was when we saw him last. His hands are fluid and he can catch and spin the rock very fast. He sees the field and is deceptive in his ability to pass without projecting where it’s going. He made a number of looks that caught the defense off guard by having his stick back, giving it a little spin and then zipping the ball with a flick of the wrists. His low center of gravity and multi-sport athleticism allows him to dodge with toughness and fend off contact while keeping his head up. One of his goals was a terrific individual effort to get inside his man and hammer the ball into the net as he was diving across the crease charging from the back corner. His prettiest goal was when he caught the ball on the wing, threw a hesitation move, dipping inside a defender, then froze the slide man, then dipped inside him before reaching up and taking an extra step or two to slap the ball by the goalie. Trippi also proved valuable by flying up to the midline to try to help on clears and came up with some tough groundballs, showing no fear to get into the mix; upon getting the ball he got his head up, sensed the pressure and look to run to space or flick it to space. The lefty led all scorers with three goals and two or three assists, and he finished the year up with 104 points to lead the team, with 56 goals and 48 assists.

Steven Shollenberger, Attack, Bullis School, Sr. – Drexel

Shollenberger, who’s been an important leader in his time as a Bulldog, stood out as a confident carrier and dodger and was opportunistic in his takes in the IAC title matchup with Saint Stephen’s & St. Agnes. The athletic, ambidextrous veteran was also involved in a number of plays on the ride, showing his motor and aggressive attack to get the ball back. Up in the middle of the field, he crossed over to play both sides of the ball, showed his wheels in the open field, and he took advantage of mismatches as he was quick to attack early on in possessions. It was clear he could win his matchups with his ability to protect the stick with his good strength and solid build and move his feet. Late in the game, he authoritatively took his man to the cage from X, splitting to his left and getting topside to bury a bounce shot and help the Bulldogs pull away. He finished the year with 54 goals and 24 assists.

Nicky Petkevich, Attack, Bullis, Sr. - Colgate

Petkevich really shined alongside his fellow standout attackmen, with his best moments coming as a shooter who can consistently get off quality looks. He’s got quick hands and is able to make moves right off receiving a pass, able to catch his defender off guard. He goes hard to the cage, and is especially relentless near the goal. He finds space and gets the ball in and out of his stick with velocity and accuracy. One of his goals, a big one in the third quarter, saw him twist his body to pull back a blast to the top left corner. Along with his linemates, the left-hander played like a wolf on the ride and helped make clears a serious challenge for SSSA throughout the contest. He put up 62 and 24 assists on the season.

Michael Chiaramonte, Midfield, Bullis, Jr. - Delaware

Chiaramonte was one of the most important players on the field for Bullis. The wiry-tough, high-endurance midfielder can run all day and that is what he was asked to do Sunday night in the IAC title game. Visibly exhausted at points, he should have been – he had been up and down the field, off the wing, banging midfielders and then still charging after ground balls late in the game. He kept going and it didn’t matter how long he’d been on the field. His north-south speed and his lateral quickness allowed him to matchup against the biggest and fastest Saints midfielders and defender them effectively botha t the top of the box and when caught in an invert situation. He played his angle right and used a hard cross check to get the man directed away from the cage – he was excellent one on one and was pretty nasty about how hard he was playing. While Bullis has a terrific collection of close defenders and LSMs, Chiaramonte deserves some credit for the role he played in the IAC title win.

Griffin Gosnell, Defense/LSM, Bullis, Sr. – Cornell

The Bullis defense was incredibly hard to beat in the IAC showdown and we’ll credit Gosnell with being one of the difference makers on the back end for his team. He’s a solid athlete, was excellent at getting to the ball and getting it off the ground , but he also snuffed out his assignment for long stretches with good on ball play and making use of his good mix of strength and mobility. He stayed in the hip, changed direction smoothly and used his stick to be annoying. He keeps the handle active and was involved in making life tough up top for the SSSA midfield as well as sparking transition.

Paul Steel, Defense, Bullis, Sr. – Johns Hopkins

Steele, even with the big knee brace, was a constant presence on the back end, using his size and reach to get into plays off the ball. Off the ground, he looked like a monster coming up the field. Physically, he can overpower his matchup and hang a dodger up with his length and aggressive checks. He broke out of the scrum with the ball more than once and sped up the field, easily getting through some riding checks and showing good stick control. He was part of the reason that SSSA ran into trouble when trying to get any sort of penetration, as he was physical when helping and was tough to budge for anyone in terms of a one-on-one matchup.

Logan Akey, Defense, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, Sr.

Akey was the most noticeable and persistent playmaker on the back half for the Saints, at least from where we stood. His 6-foot-3 (give or take) size, wing span and his good foot speed allowed him to get involved easily. He created a number of turnovers by way of good timing on checks, both in set defense and to break up transition more than one time. He came up with the ball himself to clear more than once and showed his long legs and big stride up the field. He was relentless in fighting to get the ball on the ground out on the perimeter or up top in the face of the barrage of athletic midfielders dodging downhill at the SSSA defense.

Matt Fisher, Midfield, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, Sr.

Fisher shined for the Saints in the loss to Bullis. A compact, athletic lefty midfielder with a great burst of speed, Fisher was the bright spot for SSSA early in the game, as he was getting by his man and getting off hard shots. He’s got a super hard shot with the ability to snap it off quickly. He could have had another goal, but one of his lasers rung the cross bar (the ball flew into the treeline some 50-60 yards away). He set himself up to shoot with quickness and with determination. Both of the goals he scored popped the net with a lot of velocity.

Ben Martin, Attack, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, Sr. – Dartmouth

Martin got it done against Bullis as a quick, gritty attackman who moves well off the ball, dodges hard and keeps his head and stick up and just worked hard throughout the game for opening. He received the ball in motion, never stopped moving, protected the stick well and changed direction well. When the game was nearly over, Martin was still busting his butt off the ball, finding a late opening to receive a pass and score on one-timer. He was effective down low or up top, where he was able to use space more. He finished as the leading point producer for SSSA with two goals and an assist. Martin looked comfortable switching hands on the stick.

Hailing from Upstate New York, Casey Vock is the manager of 3d Rising. Before joining 3d Rising, he spent three years at Inside Lacrosse, where he was a full-time writer for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, InsideLacrosse.com, ILIndoor.com and ILGear.com covering all facets of the game. He was named the editor of ILGear.com in November 2012 after helping launch the site a year earlier. Prior to joining Inside Lacrosse in Baltimore, Casey was a freelance writer in Upstate New York covering professional, college and high school lacrosse for Inside Lacrosse, as well as writing for the Press-Republican newspaper in Plattsburgh and other media outlets. Casey played lacrosse in high school at Indian River and went on to play at Jefferson Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and business from SUNY Plattsburgh, an MBA from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management and an MS in media management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse. Reach him by email at cvock@3dRising.com and follow him on Twitter @cvock.