Willis gains player-of-year honor

Dan Willis helped Moorestown allow more than five goals only six times in 19 games.
Dan Willis helped Moorestown allow more than five goals only six times in 19 games. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 15, 2013

Dan Willis can see both sides of the argument.

During an enormously successful regular season, Willis' Moorestown boys' lacrosse team defeated Ridge, the team that went on to win the Tournament of Champions.

It's the kind of victory that could add frustration to the way Moorestown's season ended - in a double-overtime, upset loss to Shawnee in the South Jersey Group 3 final.

But there's another way to look at it.

"There's a lot of pride in winning a game like that," said Willis, Moorestown's senior goalie and The Inquirer's Player of the Year in South Jersey boys' lacrosse, "because it shows us that we could have been there, that we could have played with anyone.

"In some ways, it's comforting to know that we worked so hard and we weren't far off from what we thought we could have accomplished."

That's not to make light of what Willis and the Quakers actually did accomplish this season, and throughout Willis' three years in goal.

As a sophomore, Willis started for Moorestown in its run to a Group 3 state championship - just the third time a South Jersey team had won a boys' lacrosse state title.

After that, Willis was unquestionably one of New Jersey's top goalies. And his defenses were always among in the strongest in the state, including this year.

Moorestown's defense allowed more than five goals only six times in 19 games while the Quakers went 16-3 and won the Skyland Conference title.

And much of that success ran through Willis.

"He was fantastic," Moorestown coach Baron Wallenhurst said. "And it's unbelievable how much he's improved. He's going to make a heck of a player at the next level."

Willis, a Villanova recruit, was known for his athletic ability and quickness. But just as much, he was the orchestrator of Moorestown's defense, a vocal leader.

"Goalie in lacrosse is a lot like quarterback in football," Willis said. "You try to put guys in a position where they can succeed, and that's something I always focused on."

Contact Chris Melchiorre at rallysports@phillynews.com.

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