Winning 15 games makes a lacrosse season good. Earning the Prep A title makes it even better. Going undefeated takes that still a notch higher. Being ranked nationally sets it apart as very special. And being ranked fifth in the nation marks the 1996 season as the most successful one in Peddie lacrosse.
Few would argue that such a rare accomplishment begins with coaching. The Turco-Whitlow tandem was unbeatable in more ways than one. Senior All-Americans Ross Turco, Chris Rogers, and Marty Turco each contributed mightily to the team’s success, as did the leadership of Ross, Chris and their fellow captain Nick Scala. The hallmark of a Turco-coached team, though, is ALL players and coaches working at a high level as a single entity. Mike Talarico ’96, says, “Coach Turco wouldn’t let you settle for mediocrity. He expected the best out of everyone, and wouldn’t stop pushing until he got it. The discipline he instilled in his players was what made our team great.”
Double-digit wins over Hun, Westfield, and Bridgewater set the stage for an early climax for the season at Lawrenceville. It had been 20 years since the Larries lost to Peddie, but even the Big Red expected a battle this time. And a battle they got! Peddie blew out to an early lead, threatening to run away with the game. Then the Larries came storming back to make a game of it. But what Rodgers calls “satisfaction from a grueling work ethic” was not to be denied, and the 10-8 Peddie win turned his “longing expectations” into a standard for the rest of the season. One by one, the next 10 teams were dominated by a combined 121-34 margin. It would have been even wider but for Coach Turco’s sense of fair play. No team of his is going to score 20 goals against an outclassed opponent.
Now came the showdown, a rematch with Lawrenceville for the Prep A title and a record-setting season. From the start, Colbert, Jones, Martin, Hopkins, Dyer, Casanova, Chapman, Spooner and others joined the two Turcos, Rodgers, Scala, and Talarico to dominate the game. The outcome assured, Peddie could easily have run up the score. The 12-5 final serves for all time as a message of fair play, a fitting end to a season in which Peddie was never tied or behind, truly a season for all time.