Lacrosse History: “A Tradition of Excellence”
Landon School’s lacrosse program went from a 3-5 record in 1971 to becoming a national powerhouse 30 years later. Cpt. Ned Lathrop was Landon’s first head varsity lacrosse coach in the early 1970s, and he guided the program for four years before handing the reigns over to Rob Bordley ’66. By the late 1970s, the Bears had become a dominant force in the Washington area while struggling against more established regional programs. However, by the mid-1980s, the team could hold its own against the elite programs in Baltimore, and, in recent years, the Bears have competed successfully against some of the best schools in the country.
Landon lacrosse solidified its status on the national scene by finishing the 1999 and 2001 seasons ranked No. 1 in the country by Lacrosse Magazine. Between those seasons, the Bears racked up a 55-3 record, and a record number of players from those teams went onto NCAA Division I programs. In 2002, the team went undefeated and was again selected by Lacrosse Magazine as the best team in the country. In 2006, six of those 2002 graduates captained their collegiate teams, and Matt Ward ’02 won the Tewaaraton Award as the best college player in the nation, after leading the Virginia Cavaliers to the NCAA national championship in 2006.
Landon competes in the Interstate Athletic Conference (I.A.C.) against St. Albans, Bullis, St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes, Episcopal and Georgetown Prep. By 2012, the program has won 28 league championships since the I.A.C. first recognized varsity lacrosse in 1981. The Bears consistently have been recognized as one of the top teams in the greater metropolitan area by The Washington Post, and individual players have been honored for their achievement at both the high school and college levels.
Landon’s players thrive in collegiate programs across the country. Alex Cade ’94 and Burke Hayes ’94 served as Notre Dame captains in the mid-1990s, while helping the Irish reach new heights. Taylor Simmers ’00 played on two Princeton national championship teams in the early 1990s before returning to Landon to coach for a season.
Likewise, Todd Eichelberger ’93 and Jamie Leachman ’95 played on national championship teams at Princeton and Virginia, respectively. Ryan Curtis ’96 played on that same Cavalier team with Leachman, and he was the first Landon lacrosse player to earn first-team collegiate All-American honors. Curtis was also selected as the best defenseman in the country that year and twice played for the U.S. team in the World Games. He is now the head coach at the University of Vermont, and one of his first captains was Brandon Goodwyn ’05. The next Landon Bear to be named a first-team collegiate All-American was Mark Kovler ’05 at Princeton in 2009, while Max Feely ’07 reached the same heights at Cornell in 2011.
Peter Lamade ’03 played for the Duke Blue Devils and also for a gold-winning U.S. World Games team in 2003. Not to be outdone, Luke Howard ’11 made the national team just weeks after his Landon graduation and played on the Gold-winning team in the 2012 World Games.
Howard’s Landon team added two players to the list of high school All-Americans, Patrick Keena ’11 and Kellen Miller ’11. Not to be outdone, the 2012 team had a record four boys earn All-American recognition: Hank Brown '12, Mark Strabo '12, Charlie Snyder '12 and Alex Joyce '12. The latter two boys played in the Under Armor All-American game broadcast on ESPN. Since 1975, when Michael Murphy ’75 — later a cardiac surgeon — was recognized as the school’s first High School All-American, a total of 38 players have earned that prestigious distinction. More than 40 players have been selected to The Washington Post’s first team All-Met team, and six times one of those boys was chosen as the player of the year.
The ACC and Ivy League have been the leagues of choice for many of those players. Matt Holleran ’85 was a Dartmouth captain back in the 1980s, and Andy Bleckman ’02 earned that honor more recently at the University of Pennsylvania. Bears also earned national championships for ACC and Ivy League schools. While playing for the North Carolina Tar Heels in 1991, Steve Muir ’88 became the first Bear to win a national championship. More recently, Joe Tkac ’07 and Josh Offit ’09 played on Duke’s first national championship team in 2010, while Nick Rhoads ’08 and Mark Findaro ’08 did the same at Division III Tufts that same year. Three years later, Offit was elected Duke’s captain and helped lead the Blue Devils to a second national championship by scoring five points in the 2013 title game against Syracuse.
Those recent achievements serve to complement the accomplishments of some of Landon’s earlier “pioneers.” Kevin Cosimano ’77, Skip Henderson ’78, Jimmy Mannino ’89 and Mark Altemus ’80 all captained Duke teams in the 1980s, while Harmar Thompson ’90 captained the UVa. team in 1995. At the same time, Brooks Brown ’93 distinguished himself as a goalie for the Tar Heels and won the most valuable player award in the 1996 ACC tournament.
Carter Hertzberg ’89 and Chris Manning ’91 had equally distinguished careers in goal at Duke. In fact, in 1993, Hertzberg set an ACC single-game record of 24 saves in a league tournament that has never been broken. Lastly, Mike Day ’94 was Loyola’s captain in 1998, while Brent Fisk ’05 handled that responsibility at Mary Washington in 2009.
Georgetown University is another school where many Landon graduates have distinguished themselves; Jake Samperton ’05 and C.T. Fisher ’08 both served as Hoyas’ captains in recent years. A short drive from Georgetown, a number of Bears have contributed significantly to the University of Maryland program. Andy Burman ’96, Danny McCormick ’98, Mike Griswold ’06 and brothers Brendan ’02 and Ian ’00 Healy served as Terrapin captains. Ian graduated as an Academic All-American with Phi Beta Kappa honors, while McCormick was selected twice as an All-American. Travis Meyer ’02 at Middlebury, Andy Blechman ’02 at Penn and Brendan Healy were also Academic All-Americans in 2006, and Mark Kovler ’05 joined that exclusive group in 2008.
With Bears everywhere at the college level, Landon graduates often end up competing against their former teammates. David Evans ’02 captained a Duke team that Peter Lamade was on, and they faced their old teammates — J. R. Bordley ’00 in College Park and David Burman ’99 in Charlottesville — several times. The latter three players earned recognition as All-ACC selections in the first decade of the new century. Jake Byrne ’03 at John Hopkins often got the final laugh in games against his former peers, though, as he now owns two national championship rings and was second in the balloting for the MVP award after he scored four goals in the NCAA championship game in 2007.
Finally, Princeton is presently the school where the most Bears have resided. Three brothers, all student council presidents at Landon, have played for the Tigers. Brendan ’05, Conor ’07 and Brian ’09 Reilly were natural leaders who worked to build bridges between different groups within the Landon community. Brendan, the oldest of the three boys, served as a Princeton captain in 2009, while earning Academic All-Ivy League laurels. He received a Woodrow Wilson Scholarship at graduation, and is now serving as a Marine Corps officer as part of Princeton’s Wilson School “Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative.”
Two other families that contributed significantly to the lacrosse program were the Singhs and the Archibalds. Jordan ’97 and Jared ’95 Archibald were All-I.A.C. selections at Landon, and Lance ’92 was an outstanding defenseman. Jared finished his career at Harvard, while his brothers went to Brigham Young where they won a national championship on the club team. Likewise, five Singh brothers wore brown and white jerseys in the spring. Gari ’90 and Rajan ’92 were All-I.A.C. selections at Landon and then went on to play at Yale University. Ravi ’91 was awarded Landon’s Unsung Hero award his senior year and then went on to play at Harvard University.
So many young players have contributed to the success of Landon lacrosse, but other individuals have played an important role, too. When asked about the program’s success, Bordley always compliments the wonderful players, supportive parents, and excellent coaches that he has worked with over the years. He has also had the support of a long list of alumni who have come back to coach with him over the decades. Tiger Joyce ’78, Penn Leachman ’94, Conor Cassidy ’06, Billy Fort ’98, Ricky Kirschner ’83 and John Shooshan ’70 are just a few of the men who have enriched the program by volunteering to serve as assistant coaches.
One of Bordley’s most valuable assistant coaches over the years was Jack Crawford who played at Johns Hopkins and was their team captain his senior year. Crawford was an outstanding history teacher and a superb coach. He coached in the Middle School for more than a decade, while also assisting with the varsity from 1989-1999. Crawford left Landon to become the head coach at Loyola Blakefield School in Baltimore, where he went on to win two MIAA championships.
Today’s Landon team has a lot of history to live up to, but Bordley is confident that they will maintain the record of sportsmanship and achievement established by their predecessors. Since 1999, 12 Landon teams have finished no lower than 18th in the national polls.
“As we move forward in the second decade of a new century, rest assured that Landon’s record of excellence in lacrosse will only grow in the years ahead,” Bordley says.