NorCal Update: Amador Valley Earns Tough Win Over De La Salle
3d Rising wrapped up its NorCal trip Friday night with a visit to Pleasanton, about 30 minutes outside of Oakland, where Amador Valley High School hosted De La Salle in another matchup of notable programs from the Bay Area.
It was also a matchup of former Division I players-recently-turned West Coast coaches: Amador Valley is led by former Fairfield goalie and Vermont assistant Mike Kruger, while De La Salle is in its second year with former Virginia attackman Jon Christmas at the helm.
The contest turned out to be one of the most competitive of the slate we caught this week in the San Francisco area. After falling down 3-1 to start the second quarter, Amador Valley began to find its rhythm offensively, fueled by a significant advantage at the draw circle and ample possession time. By halftime, the game was knotted at 5-5 as the Dons were systematic on offense and the Spartans had found great opportunities in transition and some one-on-one matchups that worked.
In the fourth, Amador kept chipping away, getting itself out to a 13-10 lead thanks to the exclamation point provided by face-off specialist Lucas Heverly. The warrior of the game for the Dons, the sophomore won all but a handful of the 29 draws he took and late in the fourth quarter marched down the field off one of those victories to bury the ball. It turned out to be the game winner, as De La Salle kept going and scored two late to put it at 13-12.
It was the first win for the Dons over the Spartans since 2010 and only the second in school history. It moved Amador to 3-0, while De La Salle to 1-1.
After the game, we caught up with Kruger, who talked about the excitement of the win, his approach to developing his players and his take on the rising level of talent in the west. See the interview here.
Lucas Heverly, FO/Midfield, Amador Valley, 2019
Heverly had a tremendous evening against De La Salle. The sophomore took every draw for the Dons, and won something like 24 or 25 of 29 draws, establishing himself as a super consistent winner who is smooth out of the scrum with very quick hands and strength. He made quick work on the grab and on just about every attempt was quickly carrying the ball out of traffic or down the field with just one hand on his stick. His biggest moment of the game came late in the fourth when it was Heverly who won the ball to himself, carried into the box to keep going, outrun checks, get to the goal and score what would become the game winner.
Connor Dubiel, Attack, Amador Valley, 2018
Dubiel gradually emerged as the hot hand in this big win for the Dons. The tall, slender righty attackman stands about 6-foot-2 and uses his height and the range on his to his advantage to stretch his defender and force the defense to guard against a quick shot from him. He became a monster in the second half, and several of his goals looked and felt similar. Twice, he accepted a pass with his legs moving, caught the ball in stride, curled up around his defender’s reach and smashed the ball off the turf with high bouncers that the goalie just couldn’t track. With growing confidence throughout the game, Dubiel even dodged to beat his man from X, using a bit of a dance step to get topside and get to the front of the crease to score on the doorstep. Another of his goals saw him make a great catch, then turn inside to again rifle a high and hard-skipping bounce shot. He had a breakout game for the Dons in a big win.
Jacob Lum, Defense, Amador Valley, 2018 – Williams
One of the few verbally committed players on the field Friday night, Lum was arguably one of the best players. The compact, stocky and strong righty is naturally low to the ground and has excellent lateral quickness that allows him to be a nuisance in the pocket of the ball carrier and he can stay stuck right to his man. He has quick hands and is talented with the long stick, able to handle it with style in traffic and even use a fake or hesitation to fool a riding attackman. He made some of the most outstanding defensive plays of the game, including an important deflection on a pass to a wide-open middie waiting for a one-on-one attempt. He also picked another pass and sparked the break. He is extremely quick on the slide and he makes plays often. Lum also had a great pick and started transition with slick stick work.
Ben Highfill, Midfield, Amador Valley, 2018
Highfill is an absolute wrecking ball of a dodger – he’s compact and has calves like a full back and/or linebacker. He’s low to the ground, which makes him a bit of a tricky matchup given his strength and his explosiveness. He has strength in his upper body and in his legs, and he was another one of the most athletic guys on the field. His biggest moment came when he simply shook and split to his left, and as he got into the middle of the hash marks heading downhill, he pulled back with his left and just hammered the top right corner on the run. He was more impactful than the stat sheet as he helped draw attention immediately upon initiating.
Alex Pappis, Attack/Midfield, Amador Valley, 2018
Pappis is a high-IQ, skilled and dynamic offensive presence who was effective running the Amador Valley offense both from behind the cage and from the top of the restraining box. He showed a quick change of direction, a determination and relentlessness as a carrier and he absolutely whipped the ball to his teammates with a purpose, which really helped the team get into a rhythm of motion and ball movement by the midway point of the game. Pappis can switch his hands with ease and showed increasing confidence to get his hands free and make the moves he wanted to make with the ball. You had to respect how hard he carried and started each dodge. He had a number of second or hockey assists in that regard as he dodged to score but then pushed it to the next guy. He also scored a nasty goal early on, back-door cutting with perfect timing from X, catching the at a low angle and sticking it top left. He’s a promising, smart player who was big for Amador Friday night.
Cal Ewanich, Attack, Amador Valley, 2020
Ewanich is a skilled and athletic young attackman who plays a really smart breed of lacrosse before he even tries to rely on his physical abilities of quickness and subtle strength. A standout football player, Ewanich is an unselfish, important piece of the Amador Valley offense as he will catch and move the ball quickly and shows the ability to see the field and make passes with accuracy. He was a key offensive presence out on the left-handed wing Friday – he helped spin the ball and you have to notice his exchange passes that look a lot how Dylan Donahue used to pass the ball at Syracuse. He added two big goals as well, including a low angle finish in transition just off to the side of the net. His second goal was a left-handed 3/4 snipe from the left wing on the extra man to help Amador pull ahead. He’s very clearly technically skilled and mixes in some quick twitch athleticism that makes him intriguing as just a freshman.
Caden Kol, LSM, De La Salle, 2019
Kol was one of the most impressive athletes on the field and he also showed a lot of promise with the way he played on-ball defense and the way he moved all over the field. He might have had one of the best sticks on the field, able to easily switch the long pole from hand to hand and choked up on it when he was handling the ball and looking to press transition. He scored the first goal of the game showing off his good stick in a chance close to the goal. He’s got great legs and showed off the ability to accelerate and smoothly evade checks on the clear. But that also helped him be the best option up high defending for De La Salle with his agility and ability to get the ball up and out cleanly. He really impressed with some slick stick work getting through the ride more than once, and with his skill and athleticism is a high-end LSM prospect coming out of NorCal.
Nate Rumpf, Attack, De La Salle, 2018
Rumpf is a thick, powerful right-handed attackman who uses his big upper body to crash dodge into the defense or will post up his man and out muscle him to the center of the field. He has the quick hands to finish a high percentage of his shots from close proximity to the cage. He scored a goal by getting topside, backing in, then turning and firing a bounce shot to beat the goalie with a low corner bounce shot. He scored another right off a face-off win to help De La Sale Steal the lead back in the third quarter, snapping the ball hard off the catch. He scored another on a cut from below GLE, catching, turning and showed good core strength with a hard twisting shot. He was still scrapping at the end of the game, scoring off a loose ball and tough couple more steps to bang it in. His shot placement and release changes were excellent.
Quinn Sievold, Attack, De La Salle, 2018
Sievold had a big night for De La Salle with a handful of points to help lead the way offensively. He is a good passer and can put the ball in good spots quickly. He made accurate feeds in transition, in set offense and on the extra man. He was credited with a funky goal on the crease where players crashed in and the ball ended up slipping in off the goalie. He made a great feed late in the game down to the low post.
Adam Wong, Attack, De La Salle, 2018
Wong is a skilled, slick and very quick attackman who plays fast and is opportunistic. He keeps the stick up by his ear and his feet buzz along as he works behind the cage. He can see the field and pumps the ball to spots for his teammates. He had a really nice feed early on looking through and across the defense with a well placed ball. His hands are very fast and he’s a fluid dodger with a burst. He scored a gutsy goal by taking a loose ball and then streaking inside of his man to get free and score low to low.
Michael Balousek, Attack, De La Salle, 2018
Balousek established early in the contest against Amador Valley that he is a smooth, fast and explosive right-handed attackman who can and will get a step on his man and accelerate to the cage from various spots on the field. Pressure far out on him resulted in just that and essentially an advantage thanks to his quickness and sense for spacing and angles to the goal. He scored a spectacular goal in the second half, cutting to the crease from X, leaving his feet, catching the ball and pumping numerous fakes to move the goalie and burying the ball. He was one of the harder-dodging threats for De La Salle.
Luke Ingram, Midfield, Amador Valley, 2018
Ingram had a good showing against De La Salle as a tall and rangy midfielder who can make himself a threat to score in a number of ways. Out in front, he’s a huge target and has a lot of spring in his step, which allows him to cover ground and really draw a lot of attention. He can shoot the ball pretty hard with his feet set and was aggressive about fighting through the defense to get his stick up and look for the ball.