NorCal Update: Monte Vista Opens Up With Win Over Marin Catholic
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It kicked off Saturday afternoon in Danville, California, outside of San Francisco, where Monte Vista hosted Marin Catholic in a North Coast Section matchup to start the year.
After getting out to a 3-0 lead early, Monte Vista – a team that saw numerous players depart for Division I rosters – used that advantage to ride out a game filled with penalties and walk away with a hard-fought 11-9 victory fueled by strong play at face-offs and the play of several breakout performers, including Jack Ronan (4 goals) and Jonathon Kim (3 goals, 1 assist).
Here’s a look at a dozen players who stood out. You can also see our video interview with Monte Vista head coach Joe Rabinowitz.
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Jack Ronan, Midfield, Monte Vista, 2018
Ronan had a great game against Marin Catholic, breaking out for four goals, including two in a row that helped Monte Vista seal the win and served as an emotional jolt to the team’s sideline. A determined, downhill dodger, Ronan proved himself to be a tough cover with his ability to pivot and change directions and keep his momentum moving down the field and get his hands free. His second goal of the game saw him bang down the left lane, pull back and hammer the top right corner with an overhand shot. His next came from a similar location, but he used a subtle rocker step to get separation and then bounced the shot – two huge goals back to back. He played tough both ways, serving as a strong short-stick middie on the defensive end – he’s a tall, athletic kid and looked the part playing up on the perimeter and applying pressure.
Kyle Haener, Defense/LSM, Monte Vista, 2019
Haener showed himself to be a quick and aggressive defender who has skills and can play tough for long stretches of time. He showed excellent fundamentals and lateral quickness working below GLE, able to keep attackman from getting much of a step topside and using his stick to control a dodger. He has fast hands when throwing checks. He changed direction quickly. He was fast to looseballs and was confident carrying the ball up the field. Haener also showed grit – absolutely blowing up a pick and running right through it to keep pursuing the ball carrier.
Jack Scherer, Defense, Marin Catholic, 2018 - Utah
No player on the field looked as strong and physically impressive as Scherer did Saturday against Monte Vista. The 6-foot-tall right-handed defender showed well early in the game using his power and his good fundamentals to button up his matchup. He has the ability to overwhelm and swallow up an attackman who stops moving his feet and his stick checks are vicious and punishing. Scherer dropped one of the biggest hits of the game and in one scenario sent numerous players flying clearing out a groundball pile. More importantly, he limited his on-ball assignment and also served as a leader of the defense as a communicator. His help on slides is quick and effective. He is an intimidating presence down low.
Graham Blake, Attack, Marin Catholic, 2019 – Syracuse
Blake has moved into a quarterback role for Marin Academy this year and in his opening game notched two goals and two assists to lead the Wildcats. The righty has increased his speed and has a quick change of direction that helps him get separation and free hands to feed consistently when working from X. He dodges with his head up and shows good vision and accuracy with his passes. His first goal came as he managed to snag a pass that skipped off the turf, hitched and wound up low to low to pop the top right corner. Later, he scored with an impressive backhanded dunk shot that was the result of him hanging up the defense — when they didn’t commit fully to him, he finally took a few steps and just drilled the ball nearside with no angle and somehow snuck it in. One of his feeds came as he kept his stick way back and used hesitation before putting the ball on a cutter’s stick inside for a nice connection.
Jonathon Kim, Attack, Monte Vista, 2020
Kim showed himself to be a confident and skilled left-handed threat who will persist through his dodges and shows a nose for getting to his shots. He scored one of the best goals of the game, and one that turned out to be huge for Monte Vista when he took the ball in an unsettled situation, got underneath and as he came to the middle of the field, he had to fight through two or three defenders closing in on him. His stick was checked, but he got through it with the ball in his pocket and he slapped a shot top shelf. Another of his goals saw him contribute to a tough ride that got Marin Catholic stuck with a failure to advance call; Kim then charged down field off the restart, got underneath everyone and threw a couple fakes before finishing alone in front of the cage.
Hunter Perkins, Attack, Monte Vista, 2018
Perkins, who had a big year last spring for Monte Vista, quietly chipped in two goals in the win against Marin Catholic. But in doing so he still showed off his excellent shot, which certainly comes from great snap in his wrists and a good sense for surprising defenses with his shots. He also rode with aggression. He scored two goals and could have had another but one of his rockets rebounded off the crossbar. He scored with a similarly hard shot from the wing when he got freed up and fed in space. He has a good sense for finding space and quickly letting the ball fly.
Vinnie Martin, LSM, Marin Catholic, 2018
Martin has a motor and has wiry strength and toughness. He’s all over the field and scraps with everything he has to make plays. He’s got good speed up the field and endurance to keep going later in the game, which is when he really stood out. He’s super active with his stick, always keeping it up in the lanes and he did that to break up a couple Monte Vista possessions. He was anticipating plays late in the game when Marin Catholic needed stops. He was also smart to hockey the ball to space in loose ball situations and hustled to keep going after it. He was a big factor in the middle of the field for Marin.
Jack Goller, Midfield, Marin Catholic, 2019 – Bucknell
Goller can run all day and that’s the role he serves for Marin Catholic as their main top-down initiator. He’s a smooth dodger who can force defenses to respect his speed and he can produce good shots out of his dodges. He can glide down the lane and switch hands and come back underneath for quality shots. He seemed to make a lot of trips up the field for the Wildcats in this game, showing his ability to accelerate and use his motor. He threw a great skip pass out of a dodge late in the game to set up a step-down goal for Marin. He was quick to secure a loose ball in front of the Marin cage on another series.
Matty Hill, Attack, Marin Catholic, 2018
Hill is a fearless cutter and finisher despite being on the shorter side and he showed that he can do it effectively against Monte Vista. The compact righty twice made himself a good target on the inside with perfectly timed cuts, taking passes and very quickly firing off bounce shots to beat the goalie. He gets good torque on the shot with a big wind up and old school overhand release. And he does it right in the middle of the defense.
Hayden Leachman, Midfield, Marin Catholic, 2019
Meacham had a good outing for Marin Catholic, showing himself to be a solid left-handed shooting threat with some good bounce in his step and good velocity on his shots. He was determined to get his hands free when dodging and showed good form with a big release. He scored one of his goals by catching and then winding up and hammered a low-to-low blast. He’s a threat from mid-range to score with that shot.
Matt Prochaska, Midfield, Monte Vista, 2019
Prochaska stood out against Marin Catholic as a tough and hard-working two-way midfielder who can make plays on both ends of the field. He’s got a lot of speed and showed field sense and good timing for when to push it. He scored an early goal, spinning to the outside and scoring with a left-handed shot on the run. He was tough to beat up top and was aggressive in any loose ball or transition situation.
Aidan O’Connor, FO/Midfield, Monte Vista, 2020
O’Connor took draws in the second half for the Mustangs and he was a big part of their ability to control the tempo. He is quick, scrappy and can secure the ball in chaos. Even when Marin Catholic started to find a rhythm on offense, he was quick to win back the next possession. He faced significant pressure in some of the draw scenarios but consistently controlled the ball and managed to avoid the onslaught as he helped set up possessions for Monte Vista.