By Patrick White and Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/11/13
The long trip to Philadelphia was well worth it for five members of The Kinkaid School of Houston, Texas.
Four freshmen, midfielders Phin Sprague and Rob Lahourcade and defenseman Oliver Waite and Cole Williams, and one sophomore, midfielder Lucas Mason, competed Sunday in the inaugural National Showcase recruiting event at Germantown Academy.
The event drew 181 elite sophomores and freshmen from 10 states. No one came from a greater distance than the Kinkaid School teammates, who came looking for top competition and a taste of East Coast lacrosse.
“Our coach told me it was a good opportunity to see what everyone else in the north is like,” said Mason. “We are trying to get better, trying to get experience and to see what everything is like here.
“It went well. I learned a lot and that’s the best part. It was pretty good competition, and a pretty good environment. I need to improve my left hand, and work on little things. I need to work on my consistency and get more accurate.”
Sprague also wanted to experience a different level of lacrosse in a new region.
“Our coach really just wanted us to get good experience and to really know how they play up here,” he said. “We want to recreate that down in Texas. It was about what I expected. I played in a couple tournaments in the Northeast and it’s a lot faster than in Texas.”
How did Sprague fare against the competition?
“I did alright. I could have done a little bit better with my groundballs,” he said. “I probably need to work most on my fitness.”
Lahourcade wanted to gauge where he stood.
“I really wanted to see what it’s like here and what type of people are in my class to see what I am up against while trying to get recruited,” he said. “I wanted to see what I need to work on and where I am.
“I feel like I did pretty well, hanging with people in the offensive game. I think the (level of play) is similar, it’s just everyone knows what they are doing and it moves a lot faster.
“But it’s a lot more fun. I have to work on my defense.”
Does Lahourcade see himself as a Division I player?
“I don’t have a set goal,” he said. “I am just going to keep playing and see where it takes me.”
Like his teammates, Waite noticed the faster pace of East Coast lacrosse compared to the style played in Texas. He said that it took him some time to get used to the speed of the game and the quickness of the attackman he was covering. Waite did have some preparation coming into the game.
“I had been practicing with the varsity team at Kinkaid to prepare for this,” Waite said. “Playing with some of these really skilled kids is a big step up from what I’m used to. But it was fun and I learned a lot.”
Waite said that he had to adjust his game throughout the day. The most notable things were marking his man off the ball and maintaining good footwork. Waite said that he usually can tell which direction the attackman is going down in Texas, but admitted he was doing some guessing Saturday against quicker opponents.
“It taught me I needed to improve my footwork, and I think I did today,” Waite said. “It’s an important aspect of defense because I had to face some quick attackman and middies today. I also learned when to throw a check at the right time instead of lunging at them.”
Waite said that he was excited when his coach posed the challenge of playing in the showcase. He wanted to see how he stacked up against competition from across the country.
“I knew it was a chance for me to improve while also getting myself out there for college coaches to see,” Waite said. “I think I played well and will try to improve moving forward.”
Mitchell had high expectations coming into the showcase in terms of the quality of competition.
“When you think lacrosse, you think East Coast and they are really good up here,” Mitchell said. “I think I performed the way I expected in this environment. It’s a good learning experience to see where I am and where I need to be.”
While Mitchell learned a lot about himself, he also learned about the style of play on the East Coast. He said there was a huge difference in style that he wasn’t used to playing
“In Texas, we play lacrosse like its football with a big metal pole,” Mitchell said. “Up here, there is finesse and a kind of elegance almost.”
Mitchell said that the pace was noticeably faster than in Texas. He said that he was having a difficult time adjusting, especially in the first game, but felt more comfortable as the day went on.
Mitchell credited his coach as the primary reason why he chose to come up to Pennsylvania for the showcase. He wanted to take advantage of the day and use it as a learning experience moving forward.
“I’ve already been to the prospect camp up at Navy so I kind of knew what I was getting into,” Mitchell said. “Everything you do is different. There are always different methods of doing things at each camp. Today was a lot of fun.”