MARIEMONT, Ohio — Though not everyone at Kusel Stadium may have realized it, there was North Carolina “royalty” on hand Monday night May 21 at Mariemont High School. Joe Breschi a former North Carolina All-American and U.S. National team member was in town taking his daughter on college visits.
Breschi also happens to be the head coach of the Tar Heels lacrosse team that won the NCAA national championship in 2016. He also happens to be the person that hosted current Mariemont assistant coach Graham Harden on his visit to Chapel Hill way back when. Harden went on to become an NCAA First Team All-American defender himself, like Breschi. Once Breschi finished his career, he helped coach Harden and the Heels to the NCAA title in 1991.
North Carolina lacrosse teammates reunite
Now that Harden is battling ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Breschi is among the supporters of Harden and the G-Force Foundation that’s been set up to help support his family and create awareness of the ailment. He’s proud to watch Harden still coaching and commanding the respect of all around.
“For Graham and I it was an amazing experience at UNC,” Breschi said. “To see him giving back to the sport is awesome. He’s one of the all-time great defensemen in Carolina lacrosse history. To watch these kids fight for Graham and for all of us in the Carolina community to battle with him is pretty impressive. We’re here for him and appreciate everything he’s done for Carolina lacrosse, but more importantly what he’s done for these kids.”
Breschi hopes the Greater Cincinnati area is inspired by Harden’s story. Just last year in the first season of OHSAA recognition, Mariemont with Harden and head coach Steve Peterson led the Warriors to the Division II state title. In Division I, Moeller was champ and Indian Hill was the Division II girls champion.
“It’s guys like Graham that are helping this growth come a long way in a short period of time,” North Carolina coach Breschi said.
More Tar Heel connections
In addition to the college visit and stopping by to see Harden, Breschi also had a visit with Summit Country Day twins Harrison and Henry Schertzinger who will play lacrosse for him in powder blue next season. Game-wise, Harrison tore his ACL early in the season, so short-handed, the Silver Knights struggled with Mariemont’s relentless attack and lost 13-4.
That put Mariemont in the Division II regional final game at Mason against Cincinnati Hills League rival Indian Hill. The winner will move to the state semifinals. Should Mariemont return, they will do it after losing 17 seniors from last season’s champions.
“Every year we try to put the combination together where at this time of the year we’re playing our best,” Peterson said. “This group does have a lot of experience. A lot of these players were big-time contributors like Cole Harden, Brad Quick, and Braden Bortz. They were all starters last year.”