The Champion High School Showcase, a US Lacrosse event, features 96 of the nation's top boys' lacrosse players and will be played July 20-22 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., as part of the ESPN Rise Games at ESPN's Wide World of Sports. The championship game will be broadcast on tape delay on ESPNU.
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Showcase Standout Meyer Likes Life As LSM
by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
East Chapel Hill's Thomas Meyer is one of three North Carolina players in next week's Champion High School Showcase, a US Lacrosse event and part of the ESPN Rise Games.
The question was simple; the subject was not. Not for someone who had played attack his first three seasons of high school.
“Can you play defense?” East Chapel Hill coach
Franklin Zirkle asked Thomas Meyer before the 2010 season.
With a 6-foot-4 and 220-pound frame, it already appeared Meyer had the ideal size to play with a long stick. (He was also a tight end on the football team and power forward in basketball.) But he was successful with a short stick, too, leading the team in scoring with 60 points as a junior attackman.
The makeup of East Chapel Hill’s team heading into Meyer’s senior season, however, offered an opportunity for sensible switch. The Wildcats needed to replace two starting defensemen and a long-pole midfielder. Meanwhile, they looked solid on offense, returning three eventual starting attackers and their first backup.
Meyer OK’d the move to long stick, saying it was the best for the team and that he wanted to win a North Carolina state title. But the offensive side of him caused him to ask his coach, “Can you get me 20 points to make it 100 [for my career]?”
Meyer later said he was kind of joking when he asked the question, but Zirkle said, “No problem. Got you covered.”
With that agreement, “He changed the way we play lacrosse,” Zirkle said.
Playing close defense and long-stick middie, Meyer scored 20 goals, had 13 assists and scooped 97 ground balls with 40 takeaways for a defense that allowed 4.4 goals per game. East Chapel Hill finished 20-1, losing its first game in the Eastern Regional/state semifinal, and Meyer was named Conference V Player of the Year.
He’s one of three North Carolina boys players among 96 from across the country that will play in the Champion High School Showcase, held July 17-22, as part of the ESPN Rise Games at the Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Meyer’s position switch may have changed his lacrosse future. He got looks from colleges as an attackman after his junior season, but not from schools he was interested in academically. Already accepted to Notre Dame, his dream school, on academics by the time he shined on defense this spring, he’s been invited by the Fighting Irish coaches to walk-on tryouts this fall. He said he’s been in contact with Notre Dame assistant coach Gerry Byrne.
“They haven’t guaranteed anything and they shouldn’t. That doesn’t make sense given the players they have now,” said Meyer, whose older brother, Scot, is a rising junior midfielder at Duke. “I just have to go up there and prove my worth.”
In North Carolina this spring, Meyer was a force. To hear Zirkle describe how imposing Meyer looked when he sprinted downfield with the ball in his long stick is to see a scary situation for the opposing goalie. Many goals came from faceoff wins by Steven Augustine and fastbreaks by Meyer off the wing. Meyer played on man-up and man-down units.
“It was very rare for anyone to score on Thomas, and every time he scored, the whole team fed off that,” Zirkle said. “With his size, speed and how he knows to handle the ball, when he has the ball up 12 or 13 feet high, a goalie has no idea where the ball is coming from on a shot.”
That happened so often that a defensive teammate, Noel Myers, told Meyer: “Seeing you score is a defenseman’s dream. The first two times, I went nuts but then it just got boring.”
Meyer broke his hand in a second-round playoff game, but after sitting out East Chapel Hill’s 9-8 overtime win against Cardinal Gibbons in the next round -- “Impossible to watch,” Meyer said -- he played with a cast from his knuckles to below his elbow in the first half of the semifinal against Apex. East Chapel Hill lost, 13-6, and Meyer couldn’t play the second half because of the injury.
“I did all right, but the main thing was handling the ball. I couldn’t do that and sat out after halftime,” Meyer said. “Sadly, we lost and it’s a sour taste in my mouth. It’s hard not to be able to play in my last game.”
But he still counts the season as generally a success.
“It did work out,” Meyer said. “I thought my senior season might be my last time playing lacrosse and I really wanted to go to the state championship, so I might as well switch positions.”
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