NorCal Update: St. Ignatius Prep Scores Big In Opening Win Over San Ramon Valley
We continued our early foray into the 2017 high school season with a visit to St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco, just a couple clearing passes away from the Pacific Ocean, where on Saturday the Wildcats were playing host to longtime rival San Ramon Valley in a Lax.com HS Games of the Week matchup.
It was an early-season meeting between two teams that are continually among the very best in a NorCal region that is increasingly abundant with talent. But on this day, the Wildcats got all over the Wolves early, thanks to impressive performances by the likes of seniors Bryn Evans (Harvard), Patrick Brosnan (Bryant), Hall Peters (Virginia) and Casey Merryman.
With a relentless offense and athleticism in the back half and in the midfield, St. Ignatius outran San Ramon Valley to go up big, 8-1, by halftime, and then cruised in the second half and went to some of its depth late in the game to secure a 16-4 win.
It was a strong opening statement for the Wildcats, who have potential to be a USA Today High School Sports Super 25-ranked team. We caught up after the game with St. Ignatius Prep head coach Chris Packard, a Cornell alumnus, to talk about the win, the team’s progress from last season and his outlook for 2017.
Read more below on a few of the players who did the heavy lifting for the Wildcats on Saturday as well as a few players who stood out for San Ramon Valley. Be sure to follow us all season long on Twitter (@3dRising) and Instagram (@3drising).
Bryan Evans, Midfield, St. Ignatius Prep, 2017 – Harvard
Evans looked as good as 3d Rising has ever seen the senior midfielder destined for the Ivy League. The tall, athletic midfielder looked more assertive than he did the last couple seasons. He was quick to dodge from up top, and he proved himself to be creative in making opportunities. He used his height and his long body to charge downhill and used redodges and second moves to then penetrate the interior and force a collapse. He was also outstanding in the middle of the field, showing his good speed and willingness to fight for a loose ball. His most memorable plays included a dodge that saw him run down the left alley, pull back up, beat his man to the inside, and just as the slide came, he hit a cutter for a gorgeous setup and easy goal. His other impressive moment game when he ran himself into a double team at the top of the box, protected the ball to his chest, rolled out of it and all in one motion pulled up for a left-handed jump shot that beat the goalie from way out. He also scored on a cut and slick finish inside and scored on low-to-low set shot from mid-range. Evans was the most authoritative presence on the field for either team and looks to be ready for a strong senior season.
Patrick Brosnan, Attack, St. Ignatius Prep, 2017 – Bryant
Brosnan had a nice showing against San Ramon Valley, showcasing some explosiveness and heads up play that allowed him to very quickly take advantage of seams or when he had a step on his man. One of his goals saw him use hesitation to make it look like he was carrying just to pass, then he used a quick jab to get enough space to sprint from X, get by GLE and slice a shot past the goalie. He dodges fast and hard and uses his solid frame to force his defender to body up on him at times. He has very quick hands and showed a nice ability to make a strong move or pass off of catches or as a redodge. He timed it properly and showed body control to complete a number of high level plays.
Casey Merryman, Defense, St. Ignatius Prep, 2017
Merryman really had a great game against San Ramon Valley, looking athletic and relentless on the ball. He made some terrific plays coming up the field that highlighted just how well he runs. He beat an attackman to the back corner to grab a groundball, then outran traffic up the sideline, swam through oncoming checks and then walked the dog out of it to complete an impressive solo clear. He’s got some range and a lot of spring in his step. He was all over the place for the Wildcats and, when matched against either of the top couple offensive threats for SRV, did a great job limiting opportunities and showing some fine on-ball defense in the process.
Hall Peters, Defense, St. Ignatius Prep, 2017 – Virginia
Peters is physically impressive on the ball and off and he did a good job of keeping his matchups out of the mix, covering a couple different players throughout the game against San Ramon Valley. He’s strong with his on-ball checks, really forcing the carrier out and delivering hard slaps and wraps and doing it at a speed that simply overwhelms a lot of offensive players. He’s able to use his stick and get players tied up pretty quickly and put the ball on the ground more than once. He has a smooth handle and showed that off with some pretty easy clears on the day.
Cole French, Goalie, San Ramon Valley, 2018 – Denver
Despite the loss, French turned in a gritty, impressive performance that saw him make a whole bunch of tough saves against a firestorm of shots throughout the game. He’s a tough, calm kid who just did his thing and kept worrying about the next one as St. Ignatius Prep dominated possession time and racked up the shots. He’s a great leader in that regard but also with his talk. He made some highlight reel saves and showed the ability to make stops at different planes.
Topher Bligh, Attack, St. Ignatius Prep, 2019 – Brown
Bligh is a promising righty who serves as an X-attackman option for the Wildcats. He’s smooth and capable as a dodger and carries with confidence and his head up. He sees the field well and shares the ball. He tends to move the ball quickly, finds space off the ball and uses his good speed to make himself a threat. He scored against SRV when sensing he had the space to burst to a spot for an easy shot to the right of the goal and buried it with ease.
Payton St. Geme, Attack, St. Ignatius Prep, 2019
St. Geme put together a good game against SRV, scoring a handful of goals that showed his ability to really pull back and sling hard shots with range and accuracy. One was a low-to-high riser that was hard to track and went off the goalie’s shoulder and into the net. Another was a real beauty, as he found himself with time and room but a low angle out near the wing and, with seconds winding down in the first half, he yanked a sidearm shot that stung a top corner and was an emotional jolt for his entire team as part of a run of goals to get out to a big halftime lead. St. Geme netted three goals in the first half.
Mac Gates, Goalie, St. Ignatius Prep, 2018
Gates is a promising right-handed netminder with good reflexes and quickness and he’s in his third year of starting for this outstanding St. Ignatius Prep team. He’s energetic, nimble and makes some wild saves. He set the tone early for St. Ignatius with a stop from a doorstep shot. He emerges throughout the game as more athletic than he might first look. While he didn’t get tested as much as his counterpart in this contest, the timeliness of Gates’ early saves proved key.
Nick Clarke, Midfield, St. Ignatius Prep, 2017 – Bucknell
Clarke is such a grinder. He plays two ways and is arguably the best full-field middie when he’s on the field. He came up with a bunch of groundballs in the midfield, out scrapping in the scrum but also just showing good field sense and awareness to get the ball, run to safety, move it along. Offensively, he’s a blue-collar dodger who isn’t flashy but works hard to be a formidable threat to dodge the lane. He’s smart and sees opportunities, so in transition he’s effective and he was a part of the Wildcats success moving from defense to offense against SRV.
Cathal Roberts, Defense, San Ramon Valley, 2018 – Princeton
Roberts is a rugged, big, old-school defender who can overpower his matchup and can rumble up field to create transition or just general chaos. He has long reach and is sturdy and strong and he can be a big obstruction in the center of the defense with his stick in the lanes. He has stamina and was making plays up the field even late in the game. He scored a goal to bring life back to San Ramon Valley, charging up the turf, falling as he entered the box and rifling an overhand off-hip shot to score from outside.
Drew Erickson, Attack, San Ramon Valley, 2018 – Denver
Erickson and his teammates didn’t have the best outing against St. Ignatius Prep, but Erickson still showed flashes of excellence as a heady, skilled off-ball attackman. When SRV needed to get some offense going in the second half, Erickson sparked things with a bullet pass in transition resulting in a layup goal. He scored the next goal of the game on a shovel-type shot from in front of the crease. If he gets himself posted up near the cage and above GLE, he is an immediate threat to score, but sees the field and can put the ball into cutter’s sticks.
Kyle Souza, LSM/Defense, San Ramon Valley, 2017 – Marquette
Souza is a speedy, low-to-the-ground longstick who has a good handle and can be a pest on the ball. He’s great off the wing getting after the loose ball and he’s smart with it and crafty with his stick handling the ball ion the clear. He made some nice plays for the Wolves on the back end and in transition and showed a lot of toughness to battle throughout the entire game and keep making plays all over the place.
Joe Carrington, Defense, San Ramon Valley, 2017 – North Carolina
Carrington had a couple of nice plays on the ball, including a really clean takeaway, groundball and clear. He’s a super sturdy defender with good stick skills and an on-ball toughness. He’s not afraid to get physical, especially on the interior of the defense.