Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 9/22/14
The inaugural High School Challenge Cup more than met expectations.
The event went off today at Union College and featured a little of everything – great competition, standout talent, contrasting styles and an exciting day for lacrosse.
Team Stars and Stripes claimed two victories in the three-game affair as it defeated Team Maple Leafs, 18-12, in the 2016 game and 19-16 in the 2015 game. Team Maple Leafs earned a heart-wrenching 16-15 overtime win.
Penncrest 2016 midfielder Ryan Kinnard (NXT LC) had three goals to help a balanced attack for Stars and Stripes. He said the team quickly learned to play to each other’s strengths.
“One of the things I picked up on about these guys is that they just wanted to play lacrosse and have fun,” he said. “There was no weak link on the team. Everyone contributed to the win.
“As soon as we started to practice everyone asked about each other and learned about one another, which I think helped us have good chemistry on the field.”
Kinnard said Stars and Stripes coaches helped prepare the team for the Canadians’ box style of play.
“We knew that Canadians are shifty and like to operate in tight and run two-man games,” he said. “In practice the night before the coaches focused on running two-man games and talking us through how to defend it and also talking the offense through how to use it to our advantage.
“I really enjoyed getting to go and play lacrosse against good competition and playing with great players from across the nation. Also, the gear they gave us was awesome. One thing I learned from this event is that coaches like to see the intangibles. If you hustle and work hard it won’t go unnoticed.”
Also in the 2016 win, The Hill School’s Jake Saenz (Duke’s L.C.) scored once.
In the first game, Team Maple Leaf Cam Garlin (Whitby Warriors) scored the game-winner with 29 seconds left in OT for his sixth goal of the game, off a feed from Quinn Commandent. Stars and Stripes had forced OT with three late goals by Sean Barry (Smithtown East).
“I was fired up!” said Commandent about the win. “I had an early chance in OT and gave the ball away so I knew I had to do something to get the win. It was one of the most exciting games I have ever played in.”
Commandent, who attends Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Ontario and plays for Evolve Elite, said his team was forced to mesh quickly.
“I only met some guys on my team the day before the game so we had no choice but to get to know each other,” he said. “The Stars and Stripes was a good squad and we had to just keep going. We handled adversity perfectly today and that’s what good teams do to win. It was back and forth the whole game; it was amazing to be a part of it.”
What did Commandent learn from the experience?
“Our coaches preached that we need to win every 50-50 ball and push the pace,” he said. “About myself I tried to just stay composed under pressure and just play the game and have fun, simple as that. Lastly, I learned even more about how to handle adversity. It’s a long game and we play to the final whistle.”
Stars and Stripes came back quickly in the 2016 game, leading big from the start as it took a 10-3 halftime lead and never looked back. Jared Hershman (Hendrick Hudson, N.Y./Marquette commit) won 25 of 31 face-offs while Michael Sands (Greenwich-CT/Lafayette) and Kinnard scored three goals each and Chris Pickel (Bayport Blue Point-NY), Sean Wood (North Hunterdon-NJ) and Nick McCabe (Boca Raton-FL) added two goals apiece. Jake Southren (Randolph-NJ/Stevens Tech) added a goal and three assists and Caelahn Bullen (Trinity-Pawling-NY/Cornell) was a standout in goal.
“We were both really excited about the game, but our face-off guy won all the face-offs and we dominated the ball and got good possessions,” said Southren. “We finished when we needed to.
“The Camadians made a lot of fakes and you have to pay attention to what they are doing. They work really well as a team and use each other. They don’t dodge for themselves; they create open space and get their hands free – they use a lot of two-man game.”
Southren said the event provided great exposure in a unique way.
“We only had one practice and we didn’t know each other well, but the coaches (Rick Beardsley and Mike Chanenchuk) did a great job and we used a simple 1-2-3 offense with the middies dodging up top off picks,” he said. “We used a lot of back side dodging.
“The game got a lot of hype on social media. Everybody knows whose on the teams and it draw a lot of attention to people. Plus, we had kids from all over – Tennessee, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and New York. We got see and play with people from other states. It was really cool.”
“For me this event won’t have a recruiting impact; I’m already committed to Hofstra,” said Kinnard. “But for those who aren’t committed this could definitely help them out because of the coaches who were there.”
In the 2015 game, the Stars and Stripes outscored Team Maple Leafs despite six goals and two assists by Jake Fox.