Cliche be darned, Haverford School senior lacrosse player TJ Malone is a student of the game.
As a freshman and sophomore, Malone listened and watched intently as the Fords were led by an ultra-talented cast.
An injury last season forced him to again play the role of observer when the Fords fell to Penn Charter for the first time in 14 years.
Friday afternoon, however, Malone and the Fords conquered the Quakers, 10-5, on an early edition of senior day at Haverford School.
"It was awesome," the attacker said, "and it being senior day really made me realize how little time I have left, so I'm just trying to savor it and have no regrets."
Senior day is usually held later in the season, but the Fords took control of this early version thanks to two first-quarter assists and a goal by Malone, who will play at Amherst next season.
By intermission, he added two more goals, helping the Fords to a 6-2 edge at the half. He finished with four goals and two assists.
"Some days it's more of middie day," Malone said. "Some days it's more of an attack day. And today the ball just kind of fell my way more."
It wasn't by accident. Malone and the Fords' coaching staff were aware that the Quakers play a tough zone defense.
That stingy defense helped the Quakers shock the Fords at home last season while Malone looked on with a knee injury.
"It was hard to watch last year because I felt like I could be making a difference," he said.
"These guys like to play zone on us," he added. "I like to sneak around the crease a lot, and that look was just open today."
Fellow senior Scott Deck added three goals, and senior goaltender Harrison Fellheimer thwarted 11 shots for Haverford.
Senior Luke Brogan led the Quakers (3-7) with two goals. Junior faceoff-man extraordinaire Gavin Tygh won all 19 of his opportunities and also scored a goal.
The Fords (8-3), however, were too deep, too talented, took advantage of turnovers and called upon championship experience from years past.
"My freshman year, we won the national championship," Malone said. "I sat on the bench a few games, so it was awesome to watch guys like Drew Supinski [University of Denver], Grant Ament [Penn State] and Chris Sabia [Penn State], who are all now killing it in college. But I looked at them like I just wanted to be there one day, being able to score goals for Haverford's varsity team. That's what gave me motivation, watching those guys and their work ethic."
Earlier, he added: "It just shows all the [current] sophomores on [junior varsity] don't give up. You'll get your chance. Your time will come. This story is two years on JV, two years on varsity, and that's the way it should be. It's just awesome when it pays off."
Haverford School 3 3 3 1 — 10
Penn Charter 0 2 1 2 — 5
HS: TJ Malone 4, Scott Deck 3, Peter Garno, Luke O'Grady, Payton Hollway.
PC: Luke Brogan 2, Gavin Tygh, Ryan Dickson, Blake Target