Rising High School Notebook: Colorado Update 2: Cherry Creek, Monarch, More
On our third day in Colorado, we made our way north of the City of Denver to Louisville, where we watched Monarch High School take on Fort Collins United, a team combining players from a variety of schools in the area.
Behind an eight-goal effort from Andrew Zwiers and a five-goal, two-assist, multi-groundball performance by two-way standout midfielder Chad Kreuzer, the Coyotes took a comfortable 16-10 win. We caught up with head coach Dave Auday, a Philly native who moved to Colorado and built the Monarch program, after the win. You can see the interview here.
On Thursday night, our final evening in the Centennial State, we traveled to Greenwood Village, just south of Denver, for what turned out to be an incredible battle between the top two teams in the most recent Rising State-by-State Rankings, Cherry Creek and Regis Jesuit.
Entering the game at No. 2 in the rankings, Cherry Creek used a hot early start by Asher Nolting to get out to a 3-1 lead by the end of the first quarter. Nolting scored each of those goals to give the Bruins the early lead in front of a big crowd featuring packed, boisterous student sections.
Regis would tie the game with just 1:25 left in regulation on Joey Chott’s second goal. But after Creek was able to get a key save from McGuire Mynatt with just seconds left, Creek would be the beneficiary of a broken play behind the crease: as the Raiders struggled to come up with a loose ball off a broken-up pass to the goalie, it was Nolting who came up with the ball, took a few steps and leaped forward to flick the ball into the open net for the thrilling 5-4 win. The ensuing scene saw the Cherry Creek student section storm the field (we caught that below).
We also caught up with Bryan Perry, the head coach at Cherry Creek — Colorado’s defending 5A champions — after the win to talk about the victory, the intensity of it all and what the Bruins are doing to keep getting better.
Deeper down, we’ve got a look at some of the players who stood out to us in the last couple days we spent in Colorado. Follow us on Twitter throughout the year as we make our way around the nation on Twitter (@3dRising) and on Instagram (@3drising).
Chad Kreuzer, Midfield, Monarch (Colo.), Sr. - Furman
There was no better old-school, two-way, up-the-field midfielder we saw in Colorado this year than Kreuzer, and it’s not even debatable. The nimble, fast and wiry strong athlete put on an incredible show against Fort Collins United, literally making plays all over the field for his team and serving as a major source of transitional offense that saw him show off his heady, unselfish passing and his slick, athletic dodging. We saw him score with both hands. One of our favorite plays we saw out of Kreuzer: he backdoor cut his man, caught the ball, quickly rolled back to the interior knowing his man was moving the other way, forced a slide from the opposing defender, threw an easy fake to freeze him, dipped his stick inside with quasi-face dodge, and then ran a few yards in to bounce the ball by the goalie with his left. Kreuzer possesses deer-like agility and up-field speed. He used that to put defenses on their heels in transition, while he used his eyes and his fast hands to send a few excellent passes inside to connect for fastbreak goals. He put those on the money to cutters on the door step. He worked from X a few times, scoring with ease as he pushed the stick out and trotted to the crease. He sent a great skip pass from X, too, another assist. He dodged to dish, and when he wasn’t being played close enough, he used his motor and quick change of direction to create shots out of his dodges. He was hands down the most impressive player on the field in the Monarch win over Fort Collins.
Andrew Zwiers, Attack, Monarch (Colo.), Sr.
Zwiers put on a really impressive showing against Fort Collins United, notching eight goals and displaying his abilities as a shooter. The righty scored a number of his goals from out on the high wing spot, catching and stepping in to rip the with a consistent sidearm motion, and he was dialed in to the top shelf, as he hit that spot a number of times. A couple of them literally tucked into the top right against a right-handed goalie, speaking to the good snap and accuracy he was getting on his shots. Not necessarily a power dodger, but more fluid and with some good feet under him, Zwiers was a great target off the ball as he was ready to fire upon the catch, but he also showed he could push the stick back and carry effectively, getting up on front of the goal where his shot was so dangerous. One of his goals saw him take a hard drive inside from the wing and score with one on the doorstep. He rode to cause a turnover on one series and buried the ball after coming up with it. The wing wasn’t his only spot. He proved to be money in transition and also was smart to come up with a couple ground balls on the perimeter and helped keep his team in a good rhythm offensively. His confidence began to show through as he racked up the goals.
Danny Kowalski, LSM, Monarch (Colo.), Jr.
Kowalski was tenacious, ever-present and used his stick to extend his body and make plays. He’s a smaller, fast LSM and he made plays all over the field for Monarch against Fort Collins. He moves his feet nonstop and has high endurance, able to chase down the ball carrier or hang up an unsuspecting midfielder going after the ball off the wing. He created all sorts of problems throughout the game. He led numerous clears after controlling the ball off his own play or someone else’s. He hustled as much as any player on the field and earned every play he created.
Alex Winkler, Goalie, Fort Collins Unified (Colo.), Sr.
Though it was a result in the other direction, we liked what we saw out of the Vipers senior keeper. He took a lot of hot rubber and just kept making tough saves even after some would go by him. He showed a lot of toughness and resilience. He was seeing the ball, not guessing, and credit the Monarch shooters for eventually placing the ball well in the corners to beat him. He flailed across the cage, he stood tall when shots were high (getting his stick on the ones he saved) and he kept directing his defense when it got hairy down the stretch. Winkler saw low shots with ease, and if it wasn’t for his ten saves through three quarters (we know he had more than that), the score against Monarch would have been more spread.
Ryan Hsin, FO/Midfield, Fort Collins Unified (Colo.), Sr.
Hsin put in major work against Monarch in a tough loss, but he stood out for his extremely gritty play. He motored to the ball and didn’t care if he was getting slapped or hammered. He lit up an opposing player with a what looked like a normal hit for him. He goes very, very hard from the face-off X and stats had him down as winning 18 and losing four. He finished the game with two goals and was still battling for his team at the end of the game. When he dodged, he showed a burst and an ability to fend off checks and just make his way down hill.
Asher Nolting, Attack, Cherry Creek (Colo.), Jr. - Air Force
Nolting wore his big-boy pants to the Regis Jesuit game and turned in a four-goal performance that put his team out in front to start the game (setting the tone in ways) and then sealed the victory in thrilling fashion with a leaping individual effort to score the game-winner. Nolting proved to be a more athletic and more opportunistic dodger than a year ago, and became a matchup problem from the early goings with his ability to manufacture shots out of his athleticism and perseverance through plays. His first goal saw him roll off a defender, leave his feet and bury the shot. Another saw the righty use his bounce to get some separation as he worked from X and then buried a shot as he curled inside of 5-and-5. His overtime goal saw him make a pure effort play by coming up with the loose ball behind the cage out of a small scrum and leave his feet to deposit the ball into the open net. He should also get credited for riding hard on a couple key possessions, including one late in the game. Notling’s a humble kid who we could see took a step up from last season.
Connor Till, Midfield, Cherry Creek (Colo.), Jr.
Till is a big, 6-foot-1, aggressive dodging midfielder who uses his size and his good legs to carry the ball hard up top and down the lane. Though he most definitely wishes he had about three or four shots back that he should have sent low, Till was a major factor for Cherry Creek as one of the primary dodgers and carriers. One thing that became clear was that, even if Till was just carrying, there was a method to it as Creek was using patience on offense, and Till’s ability to keep the ball and draw the defense’s eyes helped the Bruins essentially control the ball and, at times, the game. The rugged midfielder was a presence in the middle of the field, determined to hustle down the ball and run it into the box and immediately go to work carrying and threatening to break down his defender. Till will pass and shoot with both hands, though he likely wants a few back from Thursday night. He finished with one assist, a few ground balls, but was fantastic for his ability to help Creek control things.
Trevor Brown, Defense, Cherry Creek (Colo.), Soph.
Brown was noticeable as tall, big defender who was a big and intimidating presence on the Creek interior. The multi-sport athlete showed physicality and good communication skills. He was one of the stronger looking players on either team. His willingness to work and scrap helped him come up with about five ground balls throughout the game — a big stat in a enormous one-goal win for his team.
Jack Calderone, LSM, Cheery Creek (Colo.), Jr. - Loyola
Calderone came up with some big ground balls and showed his athleticism in the middle of the field and his effectiveness pressing out at the top of the box to help make scoring a challenge for Regis. Not the biggest, strongest LSM, he just hustles and has a good handle that helps him in the groundball war. He came up with some big ones for the Bruins, as they utilized a zone defense and Calderone was active and heckling up top. He totaled a handful of ground balls on the evening.
Cole Boland, Midfield, Regis Jesuit (Colo.), Sr. - Loyola
Boland is a hustler of an offensive player who just brings a good overall combination of skills and athleticism to the field. Boland finished the game with two goals on three shots and two ground balls. One of his goals was desperately needed by Regis as they struggled to find seams in the Creek zone defense. It was Boland who broke the ice in the second half, cutting inside, finding a small spot, and catching the ball to turn and bury a low hard shot in a flash.
Joe Jarman, Defense, Regis Jesuit (Colo.), Sr.
Jarman impressed as strong and good-sized right-handed defender who got himself involved in all sorts of plays to get the ball on the ground and give it back to Regis. He came up with at least two caused turnovers we saw, one of them on the near sideline as the Raiders were doing all they could to claw back. He helped give them the opportunity to tie it up. Jarman is tall, about 6-foot and showed good legs coming up the field.
Alec Barnes, Midfield, Regis Jesuit (Colo.), Sr. - Denver
A hard-working, multi-faceted, low-to-the-ground style midfielder who does a lot of different things with effectiveness, Barnes is a centerpiece for this talented Regis team. Against Cherry Creek, Barnes was terrific in the middle of the field. He won six of 12 draws, but was a spark when he came up with the ball and helped Regis bury at least one goal right off a face-off win as he led the quick break. He came up with some of his wins himself by scrapping for the ball and he has a motor to keep going. He showed some toughness by taking a hard hit and getting back into the mix a short time later. He assisted on two goals in the win, including a pop pass inside to a teammate to show off his good vision and fast hands on the stick.
Joey Chott, Midfield, Regis Jesuit (Colo.), Sr.
Chott has wheels and showed those off up the field, including on his game-tying tally late in the game that saw the righty sprint up the lengthy of the field and bury his shot to send the crowd into hysterics. Chott can be snaky as a dodger, and his decent size makes him hard to cover. And he’s a smart shooter: his first goal came as he used a screen from way outside and scored a much needed goal for Regis in the first half, firing right around and through a couple defenders knowing he had the right angle for it, and it beat the goalie low when that had typically an easy save.