By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 6/29/17
Duke’s Lacrosse 2019 midfielder/attackman Will Mercado (Lenape High-NJ) says not much has changed with the new recruiting rules as he searches for the best college match for his athletic and academic goals.
“I think this summer was always a big one for kids going into their junior year and it puts the spotlight on the 2019s,” said Mercado after impressing Wednesday at the National 175/Passport Alliance Best of the Best Individual Showcase at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, N.Y.
“But I am not going to treat it any different this summer. I am just treating it like the rules have existed all along. Being in that class we have to step up and turn some college coaches’ heads as we look to the Sept. 1 timeline.”
Mercado, who had 20 goals and 15 assists for a 17-3 Lenape team that reached the South Jersey Group 4 finals this spring, said the competition at the event was as keen as ever.
“I think I started out a little slowly, but I was able to beat some of my defensemen and make some plays,” he said. “I think it was more my hustle that stood out more than anything else.”
What are Mercado’s top attributes?
“Definitely my grit,” he said. “I will admit sometimes I may dodge and get stripped. But I won’t in the long run let it put a damper on the rest of my game.
“I know it’s a long game and whether it’s high school or summer ball no matter what happens I am going to keep going and play as smart as possible. Above all, I don’t want to quit. I am not going to lie – I made a few mistakes today that I wasn’t happy about. But I force them out of my head and I went back out and did everything I could to make positive plays for my team.”
What did Mercado learn that will help him improve his game?
“Definitely I am starting to learn to dodge with my eyes up,” he said. “With the help of coach (Jason) Christmas, who is rotating me on the middle lines, I am getting better perspectives. Your instincts are to look down and right to the goal; now that the d-poles are getting better I am keeping my eyes up.”
Others that shined:
Jon Ruben, Team Turnpike, 2019 DEF, Voorhees-NJ High –
What went well today? “I feel I put heavy pressure on the attackmen’s hands. I felt things went well. I felt the competition was pretty high, even with the mixed grades, but feel like I was able to go through the skill levels.”
Where are you in the recruiting process? “I am not really focused on sports; my main goal is academics. My main goal is not to be a Division I lacrosse player but to be a student-athlete. There are different levels of competition wherever you go, but of course academics come first and sports second.”
What are your top attributes? “I have good stick skills, a good lacrosse IQ and good footwork and I try to be a leader on defense as much as I can. I like getting the GBs. I am a close defender but I can play LSM.”
Andrew Lucas, CT Chargers, 2019 DEF, Darien High-CT
What went well today? “I had a lot of fun; I had some good poke checks and and I thought it was great competition; a lot of what I am used to.”
What did you learn that will help him improve your game? “I think the main thing I learned was on picks; I was moving backwards to press out and try to leave them as little room as possible.”
How does the new recruiting schedule affect you? “It kind of took me by surprise. I stopped some communication with some of the coaches. But I think it will work out fine. I understand why. I think we just need to go out and have a good time playing.”
What type of school are you looking for? “I’d say mostly I am thinking about academics. I want to go to a school on the East Coast, probably D1.”
How does it help to wear the helmet of Darien (the North America co-champions in the C2C Rankings and Public School No. 1 squad)? “It’s great. Every time you step on the field and people see the Darien helmet they assume you are some kind of star. We have so many great players going to great schools and they keep you motivated.”
Kevin Fitzgerald, Twist, 2019 LSM, Abington High-PA
How do you feel about the new recruiting rules? “I kind of like it a little more. There is more time for more coaches to see you. You can’t get set on one coach; you can keep your options open.”
What went well at the showcase? “I was the only LSM on my team so I got a lot of runs. I had some GBs and a couple takeaways. I was talking a lot and helping out. There were a lot of good kids out here and when you bring them all together it’s cool what we can do without set practices.”
What type of school are you looking for? “I think either a bigger D3 school or a smaller D1 school. I definitely want to stay on the East Coast; not too far from home.”
What expectations do you have for Twist in the tournament? “We went 3-0 in our first tournament in the first day and then lost in the championship game. We have been playing well; the offense is starting to click more.”