Staff Report, Posted 10/14/20
TINTON FALLS, N.J – Ryan O’Connor wasn’t on the field for the start of overtime at the One Percent Showcase Sunday evening.
But the Springfield-Delco long-stick midfielder, playing in the Class of 2022 final at the two-day showcase, had spent the entire day making his presence known among more than 200 of the best players in his class. So when he got the chance to hit the field, O’Connor did it one more time.
O’Connor’s bounce goal was the overtime winner for the White team, deciding a 10-9 contest with the Orange squad in the final game of a day full of contests at the Cappelli Sport Complex in Tinton Falls, N.J.
The inaugural showcase, run by Matt Chandik, brought together some of the top talents in the nation in the classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023. Each class’s participants were divided into teams (three in the class of 2021 on Monday; eight in 2022 and four in 2023 on Sunday) for three round-robin games each. Those performances were used to select two all-star teams for one final game to finish out the days.
O’Connor’s ability shone through in the round-robin. And his headiness ultimately won the finale.
With the game tied at nine, White won the overtime faceoff via Wisconsin native Adam Slager. The teams traded chances in an end-to-end exchange, with both goalies coming up with big saves. The transition phase brought O’Connor onto the field.
With the White team holding possession, O’Connor feigned to the box to sub off for a shortie. But with his marker biting, he turned back, made himself available for a pass and bounced home a shot that nestled just under the crossbar for the win.
“If the guy’s coming with me, I know that all of his momentum is going straight to the box,” O’Connor said. “If I cut back hard, he’s not going to be able to cut back fast enough, and I’m going to have a five-yard advantage on him. That opens me up ultimately for the shot that opens the game.”
O’Connor, of Big4/HHH, impressed throughout the tournament. He is poised and elusive in clearing the d-zone, showing tremendous balance and ball security when tasked with getting it up field. And, when the chances arrived, he wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a shot, even if he was surrounded by elite attacking talents who were plenty demanding of the ball.
“Definitely not to screw up,” O’Connor said of his thought process on the shot. “I was hoping if I did miss the net, we had an attackman to back me up. But I was just trying to hit the net, and it worked.
Both the 2022 and 2021 games involved committed and uncommitted players. Among the 2022s, high-profile commits like Ryan Colsey (Virginia), Anthony Bartolotto (Cornell) and Jameson Smith (Johns Hopkins) were in attendance. The tournament attracted players from 23 states and the District of Columbia.
Among the Philly-area cohort, O’Connor was joined in the 2022 All-Star Game by defender Will Costin (Haverford School/Mesa), attackman Andrew Kelly (La Salle/Big 4 HHH), midfielder Sam Gerber (Haverford School/Mesa), faceoff man Ian Kim (Conestoga/Baltimore Crabs), goalie Chuck Cacciutti (Haverford School/Mesa) and midfielder Finn Morgan (Haddonfield /SouthShore).
The all-stars in the class of 2023 showcase included attackman Ryan DiRocco (Haverford School/Mesa), midfielders Ryan Falkenstein (Malvern Prep) and Wills Burt (Haverford School/Mesa), faceoff man Ryan Cunningham (Salesianum/Brotherly Love), LSM Lucca DiBartolomeo (Malvern Prep/Brotherly Love) and defender Patrick Keenan (Malvern Prep/Freedom).
Keenan was named the MVP of the losing White team in the finale.
The 2021s played games Monday during a constant downpour but gutted out four rounds of games nonetheless. Attackman Fitz McLaughlin (Springside Chestnut Hill/Big 4 HHH) and midfielders Wade Mutz (Strath Haven/Providence Road), Luke Price (Malvern Prep/Mesa) and defenseman Brady Rauner (Ocean City/SouthShore) made the all-star game there.
With a chance to compete against the best, O’Connor raised his level. And in a pressure situation like overtime, he wasn’t afraid to rise to the moment.
“I try to play all the games the same,” he said. “Ultimately I want to win the game, even if it’s an all-star showcase like this. And the mentality on the bench is we want to win this game. I guess I sort of thought, if I screw up, the repercussions aren’t going to be bad. But I want to win the game no matter what.”