By Chris Goldberg
BaltimoreLacrosseNews.con, Posted 7/1/15
MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – There were some surprises today at the top of the boys’ High School standings after the first day of action at the Brine National Lacrosse Classic here at the River City Sportsplex.
While Maryland (Pool B) – the defending co-champion – and New England (Pool D) were the only unbeaten (at 2-0) in their respective divisions, both Illinois (Pool A)and Ohio (Pool C), also took the first-day lead in their pools with 2-0 marks.
Ohio stunned defending Brogden Cup (world champion) titlist Long Island, 5-4, and also toppled Virginia, 8-4. Illinois, meanwhile, downed Colorado, 5-3, and Connecticut, 7-6., on late goals by Will Kirkpatrick (Arrowhead, WI; 2016 MF) and Keegan Wells (Saint Charles, Ill; 2016 ATT).
Illinois co-coaches Sam Story (Saint Viator assistant) and Kevin Benages (Naperville North head coach) said their team has been no surprise to them.
“I’m not surprised with the success we’ve had,” said Story, who noted his team has four players from Wisconsin making key contributions. “Kevin is a big part of Brine in the Midwest and after seeing a lot of the kids from the tryouts I knew we would have some kids that could play at a high-level you see in the everyday of New York and Maryland.
“We definitely have some kids that have been recruited at a pretty good level.”
Benages and Story said that goalie Walker Hare (Libertyville, IL, 2016) has been a standout and that the team has jelled quickly.
“Over the six years I have been coaching here (at Brine), I have watched the state itself grow – two years ago we were one game away from competing for the championship,” said Benages. “The idea is to play together, play smart and have fun.”
Story is proud that his team has players from 20 different schools.
“There is a long way to go,” said Story. “But these kids have done everything and played so hard. They have shared the ball – hopefully we can keep it going.
“It’s fun for coaches to see Illinois succeed. But it’s the experience for the kids that matter. In the summer kids can get wrapped up in who is watching and the feeling that ‘I need to showcase myself.’ But we have been preaching that no college coach wants to see a kid dribble through a double team.”
Maryland which last year tied with Long Island for the title when lightning canceled the championship game, also found it needed to play team ball when it fell behind to New York by six goals early on. But Maryland rallied for a 14-12 win and, along with an 8-3 triumph over Pennsylvania, it closed at 2-0.
Owen Sumberg (Winston Churchill, MD; 2017 ATT) had three goals and two assists in the win over New York while Spencer Eyseman (Winters Mill, MD; 2016 ATT) also had three goals and Chris Higgins (Churchill, MD, 2016 ATT) added two goals and an assist and Wyatt Naylor (Glenelg Country Day, MD, 2016 ATT) had two goals.
In the win over Pennsylvania, Higgins led with two goals and six others scored once.
“I was talking to a few of the guys from last year, and their goal was to get back where we were last year and go for the championship,” said Sumberg. “It comes down to how badly we want to win. We got a good start with the 2-0 record.
“In the win over New York, we fell behind early by six goals. We weren’t getting any possessions and they were hungrier. Our coach called timeout and we regrouped.”
Sumberg said his team went ahead 9-8 and never relinquished the lead.
“We got a few three-goal runs and they couldn’t answer,” he said. “We came together and kind of figured out their weakness. They were slow on their slides from X so we kept on feeding and feeding.
“Then we attacked form midfield. We really played smart and when they gave the ball away we cherished it. We played more of a team game and they got frustrated.”