Three-Headed Blue Devil

Malvern juniors Owen Mears, Will Tantillo, and Michael Ortlieb commit to Duke University to play lacrosse at the Division 1 level. As long-time friends and teammates, they have chemistry on and off the field.
Three-Headed Blue Devil

For the past three seasons, three Malvern Prep Lacrosse players have stood out from the rest. They have done this through their play, leadership, and chemistry with each other. Coach Matt Mackrides knows them well as players, as he has coached them throughout their high school career at Malvern. 

 “Owen, Mike, and Will play extremely well together in practice and in games. They have natural chemistry due to their years playing on the field together at Malvern and for their club lacrosse team.” Coach Mackrides said.

This chemistry didn’t come immediately, though. Mears, Tantillo, and Ortlieb have grown up playing together. Ortlieb says he and Will have been playing together since they were young.

 Will and I have grown up together and have been playing since we could hold a stick.”

Surprisingly, each player became involved with the sport in different ways. Mears’ reason was a member of his family being assimilated into the lacrosse world. Owen Mears’ cousin Ennis Udo also committed to playing division 1 lacrosse from Malvern Preparatory. Udo’s dad had played collegiate lacrosse and happened to get Mears involved in the sport. 

“My Uncle Udo coached lacrosse; shout out to him,” Mears said.

On the other hand, Ortlieb got involved with lacrosse because his older brothers encouraged him to start playing. He started out playing nonchalantly, but it turned into his passion. He started playing with his brothers and will go on to end his high school career with his friar brothers.

“They had me in the driveway playing with them, and ever since I just loved the sport,” Ortlieb said.

For Tantillo, he was not allowed to play football when he was younger, so he decided to try lacrosse. At the time, Tantillo didn’t know that this little obstacle would set him up for a great lacrosse career.

“My mom didn’t let me play football growing up, so I just started playing lacrosse and got into it,” Tantillo said. 

When asked who their biggest influence was, Mears said,

“My dad or Coach Schorn,” says Mears. “Coach Schorn used to be my West Chester coach and took me under his wing during COVID.”

Ortlieb also was influenced by his coaches, he said,

“My coaches and my family, especially my parents. They helped me a lot, always listened to me, gave their input, and helped me through the entire process,” Ortlieb said.

Coach Mackrides and Coach Schorn greatly influenced Tantillo.

“Mackrides was great and helped me a lot with the whole situation.” Tantillo said, “I talked to Coach Schorn a lot, too, and my parents helped a lot, too.”

The three Blue Devil’s commitments were not identical, specifically, Mears and Tantillo. Being part of Malvern’s football team, their process was a bit tougher. They had a football game on the first day, and colleges were allowed to contact the athletes directly. This means other athletes would have a headstart on them since the coaches were talking to many other players before Will and Mears.

“Well, it was tough for Will and I because we had a football game on September 1st. Coach Mackrides had to reach out to all the colleges prior and told them not to call and only text on this day.” Mears said. 

Looking closer, each player said their decision was not affected by their friends. So they say. Mears knew he wanted to put academics first when picking his college.

“I was actually the first one to commit out of my friends,” Mears jokes, “Academics first, sports second.” 

Tantillo talks about how this is just a verbal commitment; he didn’t choose Duke because of his friends, one reason being that someone can always de-commit. It wasn’t surprising when Will said this since his coaches praised his game IQ and awareness. Will’s ability to understand his surroundings sets him apart from the rest.

“You never know when someone is going to decommit, so I had to think about just me and not the people around me,” Tantillo said. 

Ortlieb, however, mentioned his friends in his reason for committing.

“They understood that it was my decision, but they were in my ear about it for sure about Duke…They are my best friends, and playing with them again would be pretty cool.” Ortlieb said.

Multiple athletes going to the same college program isn’t unheard of. However, This scenario is unique because Duke is far away and out of state. 

“Owen, Mike, and Will certainly created a unique scenario for Malvern Lacrosse. We have three guys going to an out-of-state powerhouse program. It’s not uncommon to send multiple players to the same collegiate program, but it doesn’t typically happen to a program like Duke so many miles away.” Coach Matt Mackrides says.

Duke is also an excellent academic program, so balancing the two will be challenging. Between large workloads and intense practices, a student-athlete at Duke could become extremely stressed out. But, Ortlieb intends on using the skills he acquired from Malvern to persevere. 

“I know I will be prepared coming from Malvern, but like anything, the transition will be tough.” Ortlieb says.

Mears says his experience playing multiple sports at Malvern will help him balance the workload.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but being a 2 sport athlete at Malvern definitely helps a lot. It’s going to make the transition easier.”

Will agrees with his teammates and believes Malvern has prepared him with both the athletic and academic programs. 

“I think that Malvern has done a great job at preparing us for this. With Malvern Lacrosse being such a nationally competitive team, you need to put in work in the off-season as a college team would. Malvern has done a great job with helping us learn how to use time management to keep us ahead of the game academically.” Tantillo says. 

When asking them about their advice to younger athletes at Malvern, Ortlieb emphasized how Malvern has the resources; you just have to find your passion.

“I would say use Malvern for all the resources that it has. Find your passion here ’cause there is so much to explore,” Ortlieb said. “And whatever that passion might be, work your tail off and use our resources here, and great things will happen.”

When asked about Duke’s dominance and its effect on their commitment, Will, Owen, and Michael talked about their motivations in choosing Duke. These motivations show a lot about each of these players’ characters. Owen Mears chose Duke because it is a great academic school with a dominant lacrosse program. He also mentions that the social atmosphere plays a big role.

“You can’t just go to a school for lacrosse. You have to think about the academics and social atmosphere, and Duke exceeds all those qualities.”

Similarly, Michael spoke on the academics, social atmosphere, and lacrosse. 

“I tried my best to focus on other aspects [than lacrosse] such as academics and school/team culture.”

On the other hand, Will talks about his dream of winning a championship. Showing his competitiveness.

“I want to be able to win a National Championship. To do that, you have to join a Championship caliber program.” 

Overall, Duke is a special program. This is proven by the fact that three extremely talented Malvern athletes all chose this school. Undoubtedly, Duke will benefit immensely from these players’ play style and chemistry.


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Friar's Lantern Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *