Spirit Wins Boys' Champion High School Showcase
by Paul Krome | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff
Nick Galasso had three goals and two assists to help Spirit win the Champion High School Showcase.
© Scott McCall
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – One spoke softly. The other carried a big stick. Together, they helped clinch the gold medal.
Team Spirit used early faceoff dominance from Robert Abbott (Bullis (Md.) School) and some late defense from a stingy group led by team MVP Maxx Meyer (Half Hills East (N.Y.) HS) to defeat Team Freedom, 15-12, to win the gold-medal game of the 2010 Champion High School Showcase (HSS), a four-team US Lacrosse all-star event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Thursday. US Lacrosse brought lacrosse to the ESPN Rise Games, an annual multi-sport festival, for the first time with the HSS.
Abbott, strong on draws throughout the three-day tournament, won his first six to stake Spirit to a 4-2 lead. Connor Mooney (Avon Old Farms (Conn.) School) twice converted feeds from Nick Galasso (West Islip (N.Y.) HS) for Spirit, and on a couple occasions it looked like Spirit would repeat its 22-6 win over Freedom in Wednesday's final game of pool play. But Freedom rallied a couple times, the last time from down 10-5 to down one at 11-10 late in the third quarter.
"That run at the end was a little scary in the third quarter," said Meyer, a ball-hawker bound for Penn in the fall. "We brought the D together and said we had to stop the ball when it comes down the field to finish it up."
And finish Spirit did, using timely checks and ground balls to keep Freedom from getting over the hump. Galasso (3g, 2a) ended that 5-1 run with 44 seconds left in the third, scoring on an assist from Daniel Eipp (Groton-Dunstable (Mass.) HS) after Eipp scooped a ground ball and started a break. Chad Ellis' (St. Charles North (Ill.) HS) third goal three minutes into the fourth quarter essentially iced the game at 14-10.
"Any time you get this amount of a talent on the field, you try to let the horses run and that's what we tried to do," said Spirit coach Lane Jaffe of Palos Verde (Nev.) High.
They ran thanks largely to Abbott.
"We have some really talented players," Abbott, who will attend St. Joseph's, said. "It feels good to get an assist for them when they score.
"I've been facing off since I started playing. Recently I've been working on the pinch-and-pop."
Whatever his technique, it worked enough early for Spirit to jump ahead. But unlike yesterday, Freedom did not melt. Freedom middies Alex Otero (Ridge (N.J.) HS) and Troy Kemp (McCallie (Tenn.) School) battled back and eventually forged a draw with Abbott on faceoffs, fueling a 4-0 run in the third quarter. Kemp won a draw and scored his third goal of the game to make it 10-9 Spirit with 3:41 left in the third.
"They battled," said Freedom coach Jeff Ransom. "Abbott is really good. Our kids did it with heart and determination, and our wing play was good today."
The game brings to a close an event that gathered nearly 100 of the nation's top high school players in the class of 2010. Some were familiar with each other; many weren't. Surprised like Abbott were easy to find.
"Abbott was dominant all tournament," Jaffe said. "Real quiet kid, unassuming. And all of a sudden he won maybe 80 percent. That was a difference."
The difference was much slimmer in the bronze-medal game between Team Liberty and Team Pride. Joe Slavik scored for Pride unassisted at 1:08 of overtime for a 12-11 win over Liberty in the bronze-medal game. Devin Acton (Lincoln Sudbury (Mass.) HS) and Andrew Hodgson (West Islip (N.Y.) HS) scored three apiece for Pride. Ditto for Ryan Izzo (Walpole (Mass.) HS) and Ryan Mix (Corona del Mar (Calif.) HS) for Liberty.