Big strides for Tursi, Shawnee

Dan Wigley (center) of top-ranked Shawnee defends against Lenape's Mike Hughes during a recent game.             AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer
Dan Wigley (center) of top-ranked Shawnee defends against Lenape's Mike Hughes during a recent game.             AKIRA SUWA / Staff Photographer
Posted: April 27, 2014

When he discusses last year's sectional championship against Moorestown, Reese Tursi talks about the attitude it took to win.

It was similar to what he felt last week at St. Augustine.

"Both of those teams are very talented, and they obviously thought they were better than us," said Tursi, senior goalie for the Shawnee boys' lacrosse team. "And we used that. We used that mind-set to our advantage.

"We were focused. And we felt like we had to prove someone wrong."

Tursi made 24 saves in the Renegades' 4-3 overtime win over heavily favored Moorestown in last year's inaugural South Jersey Group 3 final.

There was a chip on his shoulder in that game, and it has carried into this season.

Shawnee is 10-0, allowing just 4.5 goals per game, and recently recorded yet another signature win, a 7-4 victory over St. Augustine on April 19.

The Renegades are perennially one of the area's top teams, but the two wins still make a strong statement.

Moorestown and St. Augustine are so advanced that they choose not to be a part of any South Jersey conference - Moorestown is in the statewide Skyland Conference; St. Augustine is independent.

As the bottom rung of South Jersey boys' lacrosse gets stronger every year, creating deeper competition around the area, Shawnee is a reminder that the top rung is doing the same.

And Shawnee, the newly minted No. 1 team in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, is quickly looking ready to compete not just for a sectional title but also perhaps a state championship.

"That's what I'm here for," said Tursi, a University of Tampa recruit. "I believe in my hometown. I wanted to come here and prove that Medford is just as good as any other town in the state."

Tursi is one of several future college players on a deep and talented Renegades team. He started his high school career at national powerhouse St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia. He earned a varsity letter there as a freshman on a nationally ranked team.

As a two-sport athlete, Tursi decided he would be better off without the daily hour-plus commute. The fact that his hometown had a stellar lacrosse program was no small part of his decision to transfer.

Tursi went to Shawnee his sophomore year and has been a varsity starter - and consistently improving - ever since.

"He's the heart and soul of our defense. I'd even go as far as to say he's the heart and soul of our team," first-year coach Erik Stilley said. "Our defense in general is talented. But having someone like Reese in net is huge. He'll make the saves he should save, and he's making ones that he probably shouldn't, also."

As much as talent, Stilley pointed to Tursi's attitude as being perhaps his greatest asset.

Tursi is a hard worker, fiercely competitive, and always prepared.

He helped foster an underdog mentality in wins over Moorestown and St. Augustine. Those were among the biggest victories in the program's history.

But even though that underdog mentality worked in the past, Tursi might want to rethink it going forward. For the rest of this season, at least, underdog is not likely to be a role Shawnee plays very often.

"We're playing solid on offense and defense right now," Tursi said. "I feel like each practice we're just getting better and better. And that's the most important thing - just getting better as the season progresses.

"I'm really just trying to stay focused so I can help make my senior year special for me and my teammates."


rallysports@phillynews.com

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|