NorCal Update: San Ramon Valley, Redwood Pick Up Wins to Keep Rolling

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)
(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

3d Rising continues its run this week in Northern California, where we’re taking in as much of the scholastic lacrosse landscape as possible to kick off the 2018 season.

We made the drive out to Danville on Tuesday, where San Ramon Valley was hosting Marin Catholic in a nighttime tilt featuring two coaches in their first year at the helm.

Mike Kruger took over the San Ramon Valley program after the retirement of Peter Worstell, who launched the SRV boys and girls lacrosse programs back in 2002, and Matt Palasek took over at Marin Catholic this season after serving as an assistant to Worstell for two seasons.

It was a game brimming with storylines, and it was much the tale of two halves. After battling in the first half to a 3-2 halftime deficit, the Wolves came alive in the second half fueled by a significant advantage in possession time in the third quarter.

Led by a seven-point effort by Denver-bound senior attackman Drew Erickson, the Wolves put together a big run that saw them pull ahead, score four straight and then five straight to close out the game with a 11-4 victory and improve to 2-0 on the year.

Prior to our drive out to Danville, we caught the first half of action between Redwood High School and Casa Grande High School. Though the game was tied 6-6 when we had to hit the road, the Giants – a program fielding numerous college prospects – pulled away in the second half for a 19-10 victory.

Here’s a look at some players who stood out over the course of those two games. You can also see our video interview with San Ramon Valley head coach Mike Kruger following the win.

Follow us throughout the year on Twitter (@3drising) and Instagram (@3drising) as we make our way through the high school season.

Drew Erickson, Attack, San Ramon Valley, 2018 - Denver

Erickson had a tremendous performance against Marin Catholic and he was a spark to his team, especially in the second half, and showed himself to be more versatile overall as a player. A skilled left-handed shooter with wicked snap and great range on his shots, Erickson seemed to try to put the team on his back after the Wolves were frustrated in the first half. He started it off with a really tough goal that came as he – all in one motion – scooped through a loose ball about 10 yards out and whipped an overhand shot to beat the goalie. He scored another off a heady groundball, putting it behind his back to score. Both of those goals were daggers to Marin. He scored several running out of the box, attacking the point and showing himself to be a threat there. One of his goals saw him just pull back and just shoot the ball low to low from way outside and freeze everyone, beating the goalie. It was a big-time play and it ignited the SRV sideline. He also set up two goals and finished the night with a game-best five goals and two assists.

Cole French, Goalie, San Ramon Valley, 2018 – Denver

French turned away eight saves according to the official game stats against Marin Catholic, but his game looked and felt much bigger than that. The righty senior was hard to beat throughout the game, making stops in every quarter. He ate up a number of high cranks, showing his comfort level in facing heat. As the third quarter was coming to a close, he took a close range shot right off the helmet and it was an important stop. His biggest save came midway through the fourth quarter as Marin was looking to spark a comeback and one of their top threats was set up for a huge step-down shot – French just stuffed it between his feet for a huge play and to swing emotion back to his squad.

Cathal Roberts, Defense, San Ramon Valley, 2018 - Princeton

Roberts was a defensive leader for SRV against Marin Catholic and made a lot of important contributions. A tall, strong and physical defender, Roberts covers ground and hustles every play. The lefty's got a lunch pail, Rust Belt worker kind of feel to him and he’s really effective both covering down low and anchoring the middle of the defense. Working at X, he was fundamentally sound and showed good lateral movement in both directions and used his stick to help keep dodgers at bay. He did nothing fancy and used his big long legs to stand his ground and not give up any topside advantages. He played smart defense all game. Roberts is also active with his stick and fearless in the middle of the field, where he can rumble up the turf a bit. He can cover a lot of ground and he will be a tough go for any attackman in NorCal this season.

Graham Blake, Attack, Marin Catholic, 2020 – Syracuse

Blake stuck two much-needed goals in similar fashion, both of them coming from low angle finishes off feeds. Blake has quick hands to catch and shoot with accuracy and velocity. He hammered the top right corner with basically a one-timer from just above GLE. Again showing guts to get into open space right underneath the defense, Blake cut from X in the third quarter and took a feed and spun, scored high and just before he got hit. He also forced the SRV keeper to make a huge save at the end of the third quarter on a hard high shot. Blake was going against one of the biggest defenders we’ve seen on this trip and was aggressive to dodge and change directions and challenge his matchup and work hard to keep his hands free. He serves as the team’s best feeder and consistently dodged head up looking for cutters in disciplined fashion.

Charlie Tagliaferri, Attack, San Ramon Valley, 2021

Just a freshman, Tagliaferri became a key contributor for the Wolves against Marin Catholic with several upperclassmen sitting out with injuries. An athletic, slasher of a dodging attackman, Tagliaferri is a hard cover because of his ability to spin to either hand and keep his hands back. He was really dangerous off the end line and off the restart. He has a nice burst and isn’t afraid to shoot. One of his goals came as he caught the ball cutting from X and sliced a top shelf low angle shot for a goal. Maybe his best goal came off an impressive isolation dodge near the wing – he drove right, curled back under and then pulled back up to his right across his body and hammered a low angle underhand shot. There were times when he looked like he was pushing it a little bit, but it bodes well for his confidence this early on and he is a good example of the team’s depth and obviously comes from a family of lacrosse brothers.

Griff Egan, Attack, San Ramon Valley, 2018 - Arizona

Egan had a good showing against Marin Catholic as a smart off-ball player with some dodging abilities as well. He has a knack for dodging in tight spaces or in one-on-one settings like on out on the wing. After a big game to start the year against Menlo, he scored an important pair of goals against the Wildcats, including an impressive backhand goal that came as he seized an opportunity to quickly dodge underneath from the side of the cage. He scored earlier in the game on a great snag, taking a deflected pass off the turf and cranking up low to high for a goal when SRV was pulling away.

Jack Scherer, Defense, Marin Catholic, 2018 – Utah

Scherer again showed he is just a lot to deal with for any high school attackman and his combination of good stick skills and his physical strength and size make him effective at consistently limiting dodging opportunities. He’s just a brick house down low and really hard to beat for a topside step. He had a great bump and slap check in the middle of the field to send the ball flying for a caused turnover.

Jared Kenney, Midfield, San Ramon Valley, 2020

Kenny was clearly one of the most athletic players, if not the most athletic player, on the field against Marin Catholic. He’s got a good split dodge and is a threat to create separation and get his hands free. He really stood out in the middle of the field in this game. He was a factor in SRV’s ability to control possession as he was brought up to the wing instead to replace one of two poles who’d been doubling it and he ended up with a bunch of key groundballs using his speed. He played super hard on both sides of the ball and is an excellent example of the Wolves’ depth.

Michael Bowen, LSM/Defense, San Ramon Valley, 2018

An LSM who’s only been playing the game for a few years, Bowen shined against Marin Catholic – his second big game so far of the year, coaches say. He’s a smooth, athletic player who can run and has good feet and coordination. He went through numerous groundball opportunities at full speed and was responsible with the ball and helped the Wolves settle in to what became a game of possession in the third quarter. He’s versatile and he has the field sense and is nimble enough to help in slide and recover scenarios.

Nick Frangione, Attack, Marin Catholic, 2019

Frangione’s game against SRV was night and day different from his outing against Monte Vista. He’s a strong, athletic right-handed attackman who showed up for a strong night against San Ramon Valley. He has a hard shot that, when put on cage, is tough to track for goalies given all of Frangione’s snap and velocity and he’s got a big windup to go with it. He showed the burst he has by pressing early in possessions and testing the defense before it was settled in. That’s how he scored his first goal – stretching his man way out and then, as the defense tracked oncoming personnel, Frangione just saw the room he had and scored. Later, he was fed from X, caught and unleashed a gorgeous low to high shot that nailed the top of the net. He also picked up an assist with a skip pass down to the side of the crease.

Sam Knapp, Defense, Marin Catholic, 2019

Knapp had a handful of turnovers for Marin Catholic in a game that saw the Wildcats limit a lot of easy opportunities for the Wolves. He’s a smart, determined and technically sound defender who kept his stick all over his man and really kept attacking the hands in effective ways. He is wiry and has good feet to go with his range and ability to just harass the ball carrier with consistency.

Vinnie Martin, LSM/Defense, Marin Catholic, 2018

Martin just has a knack for pestering the ball carrier and uses his fast legs, range and his wiriness to get all over his assignment. He was excellent for Marin against SRV, using his combination of a motor and surgical stick work to put a lot of pressure on the ball and turn it over a few times. He continues to prove his is hard working in groundball battles, but smart too and uses his stick as a tool to get the ball to safety and then snags it. He’s a head up, intelligent defender who is playing better lacrosse as he goes.

Zack Romrell, Attack/Midfield, San Ramon Valley, 2019

Romrell, one of the smaller players on the field, plays like a madman and he brings full effort on every play. A shifty, relentless left-handed dodger, he’s a nice wild card for the Wolves as he can play attack or run out of the box and is such a tough cover with his quickness, rapid change of direction and fast stick skills. He rides like an animal and really helped SRV create pressure there and in the middle of the field in general.

Harry Hetrick, Midfield, Redwood, 2019

Hetrick is one limber midfielder. The tall right-handed athlete stood out immediately in the game against Casa Grande. He’s got size standing at least 6 feet or more and he moves incredibly well – cutting right to space with his stick in the loaded position. What also stood out was that he’s got excellent hands to grab the ball and get a good pull back and release – gets the wrists and elbows involved and gets a lot of snap on the ball. He has the look of a college midfield prospect and should be an obvious and daunting threat for any defense to cover. His top down speed was noteworthy as well, and he got off some really hard shots from low angles dodging to the alley. He switched from left to right and very quick shot out of his dodge to hit the corner. He went to his left to get off a good shot. Dodging around X, he set up a nice goal with a skip across. He also hustled – he ran down the ball to get it off a botched Casa Grande clear and then ran it back up the field, going through the ride on the sideline to set up possession. He would finish the game with five goals.

Nick Piedimonte, LSM, Redwood, 2019

Piedimonte stood out immediately against Casa Grande as an aggressive, athletic right-handed LSM who plays with toughness and guts and wants to push transition. He has excellent feet, is fast and can fly off the win to make use of his stick, and he is skilled in handling the ball, routinely snagging it and one-hand carrying it by midfielders as he looked for any chance to run down the middle of the field. He handled the ball with people draped all over him. He scored one goal, grabbed a bunch of groundballs, harassed ball carriers into turnovers and was a spark whenever he came out of the backend. Piedimonte has an intriguing mix of skills and physical abilities and should help Redwood create a lot of chaos in the middle of the field and apply defensive pressure out on the perimeter.

Ian McKissick, Midfield, Casa Grande, 2019 - Cleveland State

McKissick is a skilled lefty shooter who shined for Casa Grande in the action we caught against Redwood. He’s got a lot of velocity on his shot and he’s smart in how he sets it up, using a combination of his good size – he’s a thick kid – and dodging. His first goal came when he squared up his defender, stutter stepped, hitched to his left and pulled back for a hard sidearm shot to score high from close to ten yards out. He was drawing a lot of attention from the defense. Later in the game, he showed guts with a wild one-handed bounce shot for a goal as he was barreling right down the heart of the defense.

Hailing from Upstate New York, Casey Vock is the manager of 3d Rising. Before joining 3d Rising, he spent three years at Inside Lacrosse, where he was a full-time writer for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, InsideLacrosse.com, ILIndoor.com and ILGear.com covering all facets of the game. He was named the editor of ILGear.com in November 2012 after helping launch the site a year earlier. Prior to joining Inside Lacrosse in Baltimore, Casey was a freelance writer in Upstate New York covering professional, college and high school lacrosse for Inside Lacrosse, as well as writing for the Press-Republican newspaper in Plattsburgh and other media outlets. Casey played lacrosse in high school at Indian River and went on to play at Jefferson Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and business from SUNY Plattsburgh, an MBA from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management and an MS in media management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse. Reach him by email at cvock@3dRising.com and follow him on Twitter @cvock.