U15A Preview for 2010 Season

U15A Preview for 2010 Season

Postby picknroll » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:53 am

Here’s my preview of the U15A season that I will post in three parts: North, East, and South. I have watched this group of kids play for five years now and I think this will be one if the strongest group of teams and players to ever play U15A (or 8A). There are at least seven teams with a legitimate shot at winning the championship, including four from the very strong North Bay. We’ve never had this depth of talented teams before. There are at least three championship-caliber teams that won’t even make the Final Four ! In my team previews I will try to include those players that stand out to me, but I’m sure that I am missing many, many talented players. Even after watching this group for five years there are still players out there that I have not seen. With that being said, here goes …
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Part 1 - U15A North

Postby picknroll » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:55 am

For this 2010 season, the North Bay easily has the strongest top to bottom group of teams. Here’s the history of championship games since Pee Wee:

2006 Pee Wee Championship: Ross Valley over Petaluma
2007 5A Championship: Southern Marin over Ross Valley
2008 6A Championship: Southern Marin over Novato
2009 U13A Championship: Ross Valley over Pleasanton

As you can see last year’s Pleasanton U13A team was the first team outside of the North to make it into a championship game, and Ross Valley from the North was still the champion. The 101 corridor is very strong. In my opinion, these teams are products of some very strong bobblehead (now called U9) program. The North Bay clubs got the jump on everyone else with their bobblehead program 5 or 6 years back. These teams developed strong stick skills at an early age and everyone has been playing catch up since.

Here’s my team-by-team preview of the North:

Southern Marin Wolfpack
The 2008 Southern Marin 6A team was dominant, only losing one game to Novato that was later avenged in the championship. The move from grade-based brackets to age-based brackets was not favorable to Southern Marin in 2009 as many of their top 7th graders became too old to play U13 and played U15 instead. The 2009 Southern Marin U13A team was a solid team finishing in the Final 8, but was a shell of that dominant 2008 6A team. Those 7th graders playing U15 turned in a strong performance as the Southern Marin U15A team took the 3rd place bronze medal.

Southern Marin gets to reunite their team in 2009 for one last run in U15A. They will be extremely strong with a core of battle-hardened returning U15A players. There’s many weapons on this So Marin team. Lefty attack Joe Lang is arguably the best offensive player in the NCJLA. So Marin loves to run a circle offense that isos Lang off the left wing and he’s really tough to handle both as a dodger/shooter and also feeding the backside righty shooter. Stopping Lang is the key for any team wanting beat So Marin and I am sure he’ll draw the shut off every game. X Attack Josh Cohen is one of those crafty, nifty attack players that can punish you if there’s too much attention on Lang. Dexter Eichorst is a dominant face off guy and physical two-way middie. He controls the ground balls between the restraining lines. Keeper Cyrus Scott is one of the top goalies in Nor Cal. He seems to show up every camp or event and has years of experience as a polished goalie. The long poles are solid, but there’s no stand out players back there. The only Achilles heal of this team may be depth as they tend to go with small rosters with limited subs.

Overall Southern Marin gets my nod as the early U15A NCJLA favorite.

Ross Valley Grizzlies
Ross Valley is probably the most balanced U15A team in the NCJLA. They have talent in all positions. In their 2009 U13A championship run the Grizzlies really gelled as a team. Coach Christopher Dean did a wonderful job with that team. Their execution, both offensively and defensively, matched many HS teams and made Ross Valley just overwhelming for many youth teams.

Defender Liam Bourke is one of those guys that can be a game changer. He is big, fast, physical, and rangy. He creates matchup problems for anyone and can run the field well on fast breaks. The Grizzlies have two righty attack players that play really well together: Henry Buckingham and Ben Knaus. They read the defense really well and will punish your mistakes. Both have really good feeder/shooter skills and Buckingham can really crank it too. One big strength of this Ross Valley team is their middies. There doesn’t seem to be a drop off as they keep running out lines of athletic middies. The names that come to mind are Corey Dunne, Will Kleckhefer, and Peter Aliman but they are all good. The Grizzlies love to dodge those athletic middies up top in a 1-4-1 or attack from behind cage in a 1-3-2 with the middies cutting. It’s a balanced attack that’s hard to defend. Keeper Dilon Cunningham is very solid and maybe somewhat underrated among this group of goalies.

The returning U13A champion Grizzlies will be a force in this 2010 season. Their team play and overall talent have to put them at the top of the contender list. I wouldn’t be surprised at all seeing Ross Valley taking the U15A championship.

Novato Knights
Novato was the surprise team of the 2008 6A season. After moving up from the B Division, they put together a shocking 14-1 run through the 6A Division only to be finally stopped by Southern Marin in the 6A championship. For many of us that have seen B Division Novato teams for years it was quite a step up for the Novato program. The big difference was intensity of play brought on by fiery (and sometimes controversial) coach Chris Jarique. That Novato team played at a level of intensity that caused all of the other 6A teams to step up, which I believe was a good thing. Like Southern Marin, that Novato 6A team was broken up in 2009 by the age division changes. Several of those players moved up to the Novato U15A team that finished a respectable 8-6 in U15A under Coach Jarique. The Novato U13A team was also a solid Final 8 team. Novato will reassemble those teams again for the 2010 U15A which creates yet another championship-caliber team coming from the North Bay.

The dominant player on the Novato team is middie Austin Colvin. I would put him top 3 in Nor Cal overall. He’s the best transition middie around. Novato loves the fast break game. Colvin breaks upfield on goalie saves receiving the outlet pass. Colvin often finishes the break on the other end from give-and-go feeds off of his attack players. Containing this transition game is the key to stopping Novato. Chris Hill is also a very good offensive player providing some scoring punch. A question mark on this Novato team could be the goalie position as there has been some turnover around this position over the last couple of years and a good clearing goalie is key to their transition game. I also believe most top A level teams have caught up in their intensity level so I’m not sure if Novato hold an edge there any more.

It will certainly be exciting to see this year’s Novato U15A team. They have the talent, skills, and coaching to beat anyone and are another strong contender from this very strong U15A North.

Petaluma Wildcats
If you go ask the A level 8th grade players who is the best opposing player that they’ve ever seen, I would guess that 80% of them will tell you Joe Reid at Petaluma. He’s somehow become a legend as an 8th grader. The reputation is well deserved. He’s that big, fast kid that could be dominant in any sport, but he’s a lacrosse junkie with “mad skills” to match his considerable talent. Reid plays middie and is strong on face offs. Petaluma also inverts Reid and he’s strong coming from X.

Petaluma finished the 2009 U13A season with an impressive 11-2 record which included a win against U13A champion Ross Valley. Petaluma was knocked off in the playoffs by the Scorpions in a game that went right down to the wire. Everyone on this Petaluma team gets overshadowed by Reid, but there are some good players. Depth still is a concern as Petaluma doesn’t field talent as deeply as the other top-level A teams. They also tend to use Reid too much and he sometimes gets fatigued in the 4th quarter and his shots start slowing down a bit. That happened in that playoff loss against the Scorpions.

In years past Reid would have been good enough to carry this Petaluma team to a championship. They’ve still got a shot this year and Petaluma is definitely a top contender. The problem is that there is a crowded field of contenders, especially up in this North Bay. I don’t know if there is enough depth in Petaluma for this team to go all the way, but this team is good enough to beat anyone on the right day. You’ve got to take notice when “the legend” comes to town.

Best of the Rest
Napa played in U13A last year, which was a challenge for them. Their goalie, Jonathon McAndrew, is one of the best pure natural stoppers that I’ve seen at the youth level. I’m not sure where Napa will end up in 2010, but McAndrew is one to watch.

Town School moved down to the U13B1 division last year. I believe that they have a strong 7th grade class but lack good numbers/depth in the 8th graders. I would like to see a U15A team from Town defending their title, but I don’t know if that will happen.

Stuart Hall played U13A last year. I’d be surprised to see them in the U15A division as they had much difficulty at the U13A level. MIddie Nick Stinn is a strong player for Stuart Hall. I didn’t see him play last year, but I’ve watched him through the years at camps and I’ve always been impressed by him.

Next up I’ll move to the East and preview the teams there.
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Re: U15A Preview for 2010 Season

Postby Billax » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:18 pm

Wow! Best pre-season previews ever. Thanks, Pick.
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Part 2 - U15A East

Postby picknroll » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:01 pm

The 2009 season finally saw the end to the U15A (8A) Scorpion dynasty. A better Scorpion historian than me can jump in to correct me but here’s how I believe the last six U15A championships ended:

2009 Town School over Scorpions
2008 Scorpions over Walnut Creek
2007 Scorpions over Pleasanton
2006 Scorpions over Pleasanton
2005 Scorpions over Town School
2004 Scorpions over Tomahawks

After five consecutive championships Town broke the streak. While some may argue that the Scorpions are slipping a bit, my theory is that the overall level of play is rising to the Scorpion’s level. The Scorpions became the “gold standard” for other aspiring clubs and we’re now seeing other clubs rise to that standard (see Part 1 on North Bay clubs).

Here’s my preview of the East …

Diablo Scorpions
The 2010 Scorpion model will follow the same blueprint of the previous models – outstanding talent & skills, disciplined coaching, and great community support.

The Scorpions have the coaching combo of Todd French from SRV along with Mike Emerson formerly from Monte Vista. They run SRV’s tricky 1-4-1 motion offense with the perimeter players rotating in a “diamond” motion. They love to get the opponent confused from the motion and then dodge their middies from up top. Peter Tagliaferri and Hunter Hedegaard are their strong dodging middies from this offense. Tagiaferri is a hard-nosed, aggressive player who will fight for shots and has a great nose for the goal. Hegegaard is an underrated player who is sometimes overlooked on this team. He’s a great two-way middie who can also drop down and play the crease well. Middie Jerry Karcenski is a speed burner who runs the field really well in transition. Attacks Stephen Wilm and Trenton Shore are good finishers. Shore has a rocket shot from the right wing if he gets time and space. Aran Roberts and Niko Souza are outstanding long poles. Roberts in particular is one of the best in the NCJLA. Goalie Daniel Aguilar is one of the top handful of goalies in U15. There’s no shortage of talent on this team, just like all of those previous championship teams.

The Scorpions U13A team finished with the Bronze 3rd place medal after an 8-4 season. Tagliaferi, Wilm, and Karcenski played U15 so getting those guys back will make this Scorpion team much improved. The Scorpions have been in the last six U15A championship games and won 5 of them. I imagine that their goal is to be there again in 2010 and win it. It’s hard to predict against it given their years of success.

Pleasanton Thunder
Pleasanton finished the 2009 U13A season at 15-1 and took the Silver 2nd place medal. The strength of Pleasanton is defense as they go five deep in big, fast long poles led by Connor Veit who may be the best 1v1 defender in the NCJLA, and goalie Josh Miller who is an outstanding stopper. Pleasanton held their opponents to under 2 goals per game in the 2009 U13A season, including shut outs against the Scorpions (3-0) and the Red Hawks (13-0) which were both outstanding offensive teams. Offensively the Pleasanton U13A team was led by speedy middies Jamirr Holland and Ben Rittler. Holland is one of the top face off guys in U15 and has lightning speed. Pleasanton will be hurt by the loss of Rittler who recently relocated. The Thunder have a solid group of attack “catch and shoot” guys led by X attack Matt Maria Cui.

The Pleasanton defense is strong enough to keep them in the game with anyone. If the Thunder find enough offensive fire power against the top –level defenses, they will also be a strong championship contender.

El Dorado Hills Trojans
This is the team to watch from the Sacramento-area in this age group. In 2008 they went undefeated in Pups B regular season (11-0) and then lost the Pups B championship by a single goal to Monterey. In 2009 the Trojans moved up to U13A and put up a respectable 6-4 season that included close games against both Petaluma and Pleasanton.

El Dorado Hills has legitimate A-level talent. Attack player Ben Parietti is an offensive threat that can score on any team. Parietti moved up to U15 at the end of the 2009 season which really weakened the Trojans U13A playoff run which ended with a first-round loss against rival Granite Bay.

With a year of A level experience behind this El Dorado Hills team I believe improvement is on the way for 2010. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this Trojan team pull an upset over one or more of the top-level Bay Area U15A teams. Sacramento lacrosse is on the rise and this team is legitimate.

Walnut Creek Warriors
Although Walnut Creek dropped to U13B1 for the 2009 season, there are some talented players on the Warrior squad. Hopefully Walnut Creek will field a U15A team for the 2010 season to compete with their East Bay neighbors. The Warriors have one of my favorite players in middie Gio Rico. He is one of those “energizer bunny” type players who just never quits. Andy Evans and William Bailey are also solid players.

The Warriors don’t have enough depth to challenge for the U15A title in 2010, but will be a solid mid-level U15A team.

Best of the Rest
Lamorinda and Skyline returned to U13A play in 2009 after playing B level in 2008. Both teams had challenging U13A seasons in 2009, but the clubs have enough numbers in their program to turn things around to field strong A teams if they stay with it.

Granite Bay put up a scrappy U13A team in the 2009 season and made their way into the Final 8. They’ll be a respectable team again in 2010 although I think their El Dorado Hills neighbors have a little edge in numbers and talent.

I hear that Livermore will field a U13A team in 2010 which probably means they’ll go U15A for 2011. There’s a few talented players in that program so one to watch for the future.

There's also a brand-new San Ramon club this year so another one to watch for the future.

Next up is Part 3 on the South.
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Re: U15A Preview for 2010 Season

Postby lamolaxplayer » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:35 pm

in the east bay, lamo had many talented players playing at the u-15 a or b. They will be much better than last year at the u-15a level.
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Part 3 - U13A South

Postby picknroll » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:58 pm

The Peninsula and South Bay are interesting areas for lacrosse these days.

- The CCS is growing with new CIF HS teams each year.
- The WCAL is forming for 2010 which puts the South Bay Catholics schools in a conference with Nor Cal’s finest HS lacrosse program in Saint Ignatius.
- Several South Bay clubs now play box lacrosse in the offseason at Silver Creek in the first real off-season youth league that includes entire teams.
- The Firehawks are on a trajectory that is reminiscent of the Scorpions in the early years of this decade.

When you put all those things together you can’t help but believe that we will see a rapid growth in the lacrosse quality in the South Bay over the next few years. Our NCJLA youth programs feed into these WCAL HS programs. I’m sure that all of those schools competing with SI are going to be very interested in these youth feeder programs. Right now the NCS high schools have a definite edge over CCS. In the final LaxPower Nor Cal top 10 there were only two CCS school in SI (think So Marin, Town, Ross Valley) & Bellarmine (think Redhawks) while NCS held the other eight spots. The youth programs have generally tracked the high schools as the recent strength has been in the East Bay and North Bay. It will be interesting to check back in a few years to see the balance of power. I think we’ll see the CCS and NCS on more even terms in the years ahead and thus also more parity in the youth programs.

The Firehawks are the beast of the South. In three short years Doug Appleton has built an elite program. The Firehawks put together an 11-1 2009 regular season U13A record. I thought that the Firehawks had the best chance of any team to win the U13A championship before they stumbled in the Final Four, losing the semifinal to Pleasanton and the consolation game to Diablo. The more established East Bay clubs prevailed down the playoff stretch in 2009, but the Firehawks will have their day. They are one of the rising stars of the NCJLA.

The Firehawks are loaded with talent. Frankie Hattler will rejoin this team after playing U15A in 2010 to make them even stronger offensively. Hattler is an outstanding feeder from X attack and can just pick a defense apart. The Firehawks love to invert left attack Jordan Gans up top to run a lefty sweep while big middie Sean Mayle plays the crease. Gans to Mayle from the lefty sweep is a potent combination. Duncan Hoskinson has a rifle shot. He’s their EMO weapon. Oliver Bucka and Alex Castro are great athletes at long pole. The Firehawks play an aggressive trapping defense which forces turnovers, but sometimes breaks down against quality opponents. The Firehawks will need to improve defensively to make a run at the U15A championship.

The Firehawks will cruise through the conference schedule in the South. They are on par with the top teams in the North and East. I know Doug Appleton is itching for a championship for the Firehawks. It’s certainly in the grasp of this team. If not 2010, look for a Firehawks championship soon. This is a great program, not just a team.

West Valley Redhawks
The Redhawks are potent offensive team. They put up 9 goals on that great Firehawks team. The problem is on the defensive end as they gave up 20 to lose 20-9! On the offensive side of things Nick Cacas, Joe Rodriguez, and Parker Whims are as good as anyone. All of these guys are athletic, fast, and have great stick skills. If the Redhawks could find some long poles, they could push into the top ranks of U15A.

Monterey Tribe
Monterey was the 2008 Pups B champion. They had a nice 2009 U13B1 season until being upset in the playoffs by the San Jose Vipers. Monterey has a couple of strong players in Eli Tils and Troy Loper. I understand that Monterey plans on playing U15A this year and should be a solid team.

Best of the Rest
The South Bay Crusaders fielded a solid U13A team in 2009. Coach Andreas Guralas is a gentleman and does a real nice job with that program.

The Coyotes had a rough U13A season in 2009, but will be much improved in 2010 as some of their key players, including Ben Garfinkel, were playing U15.
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Part 4 - Summary

Postby picknroll » Mon Nov 09, 2009 10:36 pm

So putting it all together here is the 15 team lineup that I would like to see for 2010 U15A:

Southern Marin
Ross Valley
Town School

Diablo Scorpions
Walnut Creek
El Dorado Hills

West Valley Redhawks
Monterey Tribe
South Bay Crusaders

Southern Marin and Ross Valley have the highest probability of Final Four slots with the slight nod going to So Marin.

That leaves a game of musical chairs between Novato, Petaluma, Diablo, Pleasanton, and the Firehawks for the remaining two slots. Three excellent teams get left out.

Last year at the Final Four championship ceremony Coach Dean from Ross Valley graciously said that the U13A Final Four could have came out entirely different if the same teams returned a week later to play. That was a generous statement because I believe his Ross Valley team was the best team, but there certainly wasn’t much difference between the four teams. It will be the same this year, but we’ll go seven deep.

Here is my preseason first-team NCJLA all stars:

Attack – Joe Lang (So Marin), Frankie Hattler (FIrehawks), Henry Buckingham (Ross Valley)
Middie – Joe Reid (Petaluma), Austin Colvin (Novato), Jamirr Holland (Pleasanton)
Defense – Aran Roberts (Diablo), Oliver Bucka (Firehawks), Liam Bourke (Ross Valley)
Goalie – Cyrus Scott (So Marin)

You guys can check back in a few years to see how I did. I think there’s a few future Div I recruits on that list.

All and all it will be an outstanding season with superior teams and players!
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Re: U15A Preview for 2010 Season

Postby scorps96 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 5:46 pm

The scorpions will be good because their veteran defense with Matt Peter, Doug Straza, Aran Roberts, Nico Souza, Mitch Olinger. All of these players play for norcal and 4 out of 5 are going down to the palm springs tourney. Middies have Tags who is a beast and Jerry K. with hunter hedegard ripping a huge shot. Attack will be led by Stephen Wilm and Treton shore. Watch out for the backdoor cut by Rick Emerson he is good. They will definetly be at the top this year with the fire hawks, Southern Marin, and I think Ross valley will sneak in there with a young team. Ross Valley is getting loaded to make a in two years when they will be stacked with middies and attack. Pleasonton might be a sleeper becuase they have this allstar name Jeemeer who is crazy good. So. Marin willl have the two greats of Joe Lang and Cyruss Scott. Fire hawks Have a attack man named frankie Hattler who will burn you if you do not pay attention to him. On Walnut Creek they have a shifty middie name Gio Rico he is a beast on ground balls and he will rip it upper left if he needs to. Lamarina has a attack man who a can not remember his name but he has a wicked shot and is big.

Re: U15A Preview for 2010 Season

Postby splitdodge19 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:21 pm

The attackman for lamorminda I think is named robbie stern. I also heard the firehawks are getting some talented kids from different clubs. any info on this
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Re: U15A Preview for 2010 Season

Postby NorCal9 » Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:45 pm

Can anyone give a preview for the 2011 U-15 season? It would be great to get some ideas on this subject, and I'm sure all clubs would appreciate.
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