Two of the nation’s premier lacrosse programs — Princeton and Virginia — will face off at Kezar Stadium on Saturday in the fifth annual San Francisco Lacrosse Fall Classic, giving the Cavaliers’ Rob and Matt Emery and the Tigers’ Alistair Berven a chance to compete in front of their hometown crowd.
“It’s cool to be bringing the sport out to the West Coast,” said Berven, a freshman, who will be appearing in his first college match. Berven grew up in the Inner Richmond and started playing lacrosse in the fifth grade at the Town School for Boys. He liked the sport’s fast pace and its physicality, and he landed a scholarship to play at Princeton after shining on the East Coast in high school at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey.
Growing up, Berven played lacrosse with his classmate Matt Emery, a freshman at Virginia, who followed in his brother Rob’s footsteps, excelling in the sport at St. Ignatius.
“Matt and I were the captains of our eighth grade Town team,” Berven said. “We’re friends, we talk a lot.”
Rob Emery, a senior at Virginia, was a third-team All-America selection last season, reaching the 20-goal plateau for a second straight season with 22 tallies.
He compiled 53 goals during his career at St. Ignatius, where he was considered the nation’s No. 9 recruit by Inside Lacrosse and rated as the top player on the West Coast by West Side Lacrosse. Emery was also the quarterback of the St. Ignatius football team.
“I think [Rob and Matt] could play a host of other sports and be just as successful,” St. Ignatius lacrosse coach Chris Packard said.
St. Ignatius won the Western Catholic Athletic League title in each of Matt Emery’s four years on the squad, including his freshman year when Rob was a senior on the team.
Last year, Matt Emery led the Wildcats to a 21-1 record after winning the Central Coast Section championship as a safety and wide receiver on the football team.
Packard said Rob Emery laid the foundation for the school’s success over the last four years.
“He helped set the bar for the program because of how good he was,” Packard said. “He definitely raised the level of play.”
The Emery brothers pushed the program forward with their competitive drive, a shared trait that they developed at home.
“We’re just competitive in everything we do, whether it’s playing sports, playing board games or video games,” Rob Emery said. “We’re always trying to beat each other.”
Rob Emery said he’s excited to receive the opportunity to showcase the sport he loves in his hometown.
“It’s a great way to give back to the game and the area,” he said.