Brine King of Spring 2016: Players Who Shined

Brine King of Spring 2016: Players Who Shined (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)
Brine King of Spring 2016: Players Who Shined (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

3d Rising made it down to the Raleigh/Durham, N.C. region last weekend for the annual Brine King of the Spring event, which is a great place to see a whole bunch of different teams from up and down the Atlantic Coast.

Teams from North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and even Ontario made it to this year’s event, making for a great mix.

We spent most of our weekend at Cardinal Gibbons High School, located in West Raleigh, and we watched three games Friday night, four games Saturday and then another couple Sunday afternoon as we shifted spots over to Durham County Memorial Stadium for the last bit of action. We snuck to catch a little bit of some of the other games taking place at the other venues.

Thanks to Chip Mayer and the Carolina Cannons for the hospitality and also thanks to tournament director John Lantzy of Durham Academy as well.

Here are some notes on some players who really stood out in the chance we got to see them. In the gallery above, take a look at the new Warrior Warp that was on display the whole time throughout the event at Cardinal Gibbons High School.

If you missed some of the updates and photos from the event itself, see the links here: 

Day 1 Update

Day 2 Update

Day 3 Update

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Mark Schachte, Attack, Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), Sr. - Rutgers

Schachte – a 6-foot-tall, slick lefty attackman – really shined for Cardinal Gibbons throughout the course of the two games we watched. He’s a crafty, hard-shooting kid who’s also athletic and puts his defenders on their toes when he goes to the rack. His dodges happen at full speed and look refined. He can changed directions quickly and keep his angle at the cage and it’s a challenge for even the most athletic defenders to cover that. He uses deception and hesitations well, and he used more than one type of dodge in his takes. He pulled off a nasty hitch to get to a hard shot for a great looking goal against Malvern Prep. We watched him pull off a finalizer to get a defender all out of sorts and quickly get past GLE for a shot. He is a hard matchup one-on-one and showed that in both games we watched. He’s an attackman you could see making an impact in college. He scored a couple of goals against Episcopal, including the game-winner, and then ended up with a three-goal, two-assist performance against Malvern Prep for an excellent overall weekend while being the focal point of the opposing defenses.

Ricky Miezan, Midfield, Episcopal High School (Va.), Soph. – North Carolina

Miezan was without question the most physically impressive midfielder we saw throughout the course of the weekend, which is pretty wild considering he’s just a sophomore. He basically looked like a college football player out there, and he played like one too, as one of the most challenging matchups off the dodge. It took him a while to find his stroke on Friday night in Episcopal’s loss to Cardinal Gibbons. But from the start, he was a beast all over the field. When presented with the opportunity to throw his body into an opposing player going for a groundball, Miezan just clobbered him with a clean, body check and sent him right to the turf. He eventually scored on a powerful dodge to the interior for an overhand shot. He demanded a slide when he went to the cage and was looking to draw the man in order to kick it to a cutter underneath. But he managed to redodge through that slide a couple times, splitting it once to get himself right to the crease. As he continues to refine his dodging and stick skills, the sky is the limit for this young athlete.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Peter Pitroff, Attack, Charlotte Country Day (N.C.), Sr. - Denison

Pitroff might have been one of the smartest, most efficient and effective players we watched all weekend at the Brine King of Spring. The Denison-bound lefty plays with the stick right up by his ear and in the loaded position. It allowed him to see openings and just sling the ball quickly with an overhand release. He protected the ball well by doing that and was actually effective dodging with the stick up high like that too, able to use his back a bit to work above GLE and also kept his head up. He had one of the biggest games of anyone at the event, notching four goals and four assists against Norfolk Academy (Va.). He made a number of head-turning plays using good sense and timing to set up teammates, and his takes to the cage sort of came out of nowhere as he didn’t need much of an opening to get a shot by the goalie. He was dangerous around the cage and scored with little angle at least once. He turned out to be snaky and, with the ball, he was a threat to score even if he didn’t completely beat his man thanks to his stick being ready to fire. And he was always looking to hit teammates and they were working to get open for him. Pirtroff put up 81 points last spring and could be on pace for a bigger year in 2016.

Michael O’Brien, LSM/Defense, Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), Sr. - Mercer

O’Brien stood out for Charlotte Catholic as an athletic, aggressive defender who could smother the ball and get up the field in hurry. He’s got a nice stick and can glide and get through traffic and handle it well. He made some good plays coming up the field to protect the ball and looked crafty and confident, showing nice touch to handle passes and an eagerness to start transition. We were told he’s been able to battle through possibly two ACL tears. He looked more than healthy – fast, lean, agile – this past week at the Brine King of Spring. He had his stick in the face of ball carriers and in the lanes, he ran through groundballs and up the field, and he was one of the most athletic kids we saw.

Kevin Barry, Midfield, Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), Sr.

Barry impressed in the two games of Cardinal Gibbons’ we watched at the Brine King of Spring. The big righty shooter is a power dodger thanks to his good size and upper body strength. He’s got a quick release and he showed that with a few goals that came in transition and unsettled situations; he showed that he didn’t need a lot of time to get off a hard shot with accuracy, tucking a couple shots in the upper corners. He is a big target too for his teammates with his size and ability to calmly move to space and receive passes and take them into shots quickly. Barry also showed downhill dodging abilities, using his size and athleticism to get momentum and use his shot on the run. He put up four big goals in the win over Episcopal Friday night, including some important tallies to keep momentum going.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Preston Lalicker, Midfield/FO, Apex (N.C.), Fr.

Lalicker was the most impressive of any of the younger players we saw on this trip. He stood out as a thick, powerful and even explosive down-hill dodging midfielder. He looked in no way like a freshman and was his team’s most impactful player on the field, winning some of the face-offs he took, showing his strength and tough play in the middle of the field by coming up with eight groundballs, but also providing a huge punch on offense with three goals and three assists. He was simple and effective in his dodging because he’s coordinated and powerful enough to get himself down the field before you know it, as he can sort of just shed checks as he trots to the cage with quick feet and shoots overhand. He was apparently a standout in track in his middle school, and so that has helped him become nimble. So he’s big and quick, and he plays unselfish, simple lacrosse, and it’s why he’s a player who’s already making an impact as a freshman. He was tremendous for Apex and, already since we last season, has scored an overtime game winner for the Cougars against Green Hope (N.C.).

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Jack Biestek, Defense, Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), Soph. – Notre Dame

Biestek has progressed since we first saw him a couple years ago at Jake Reed’s event. The tall (6-foot-3 range), rangy and physical defender can cover ground and, though still raw in his skill set, would be a tough matchup for most high school attackmen. He is now quicker, more refined with his checks and really looked impressive the several times we saw him strip the ball or get it off the ground. He’s physically impressive for a sophomore, to say the least, and he was a big part of the reason the Cardinals were able to create problems for the Episcopal offense at times Friday night. Watch for him to keep improving. He plays for our friend and event host Chip Mayer and the Carolina Cannons.

Brendan Curry, Attack, Calvert Hall (Md.), Jr. - Syracuse

Curry was impressive in the fall and came into the season looking sharp and confident, just zinging the ball for the Cardinals but also showing that he could go to the cage with a purpose and finish. He was arguably the centerpiece of the Cardinals’ offense in the two first games at the King of Spring in North Carolina – things tend to flow through him and he seems to have the green light to attack within the Cardinals offensive system. Unfortunately, he took a big hit against St. John’s and left the game. He could miss a couple games (he missed the Hill Academy game, which could have been a big difference for Calvert Hall as they lost 11-7 to the Pride). Upon his return, look for the Cardinals offense to get a serious jolt.

Jacob Kelly, Attack, Calvert Hall (N.C.) – North Carolina

People watching Calvert Hall were literally amazed when I mentioned that Kelly – who was productive enough we lost track in the two games we watched of him at Brine King of Spring – is only a sophomore. The small but fearless and high-IQ lefty showed a somewhat unbelievable ability to sustain hard checks to his hands and still keep the ball and keep doing his thing by catching, moving his feet, passing, cutting and then returning through the circuit. He straight up beat his defender numerous times Friday night and showed his quick release and harder-than-it-looks shot as he went right to the gut to score authoritative goals. On Sunday, Kelly was again productive and actually led the team with three goals and an assist, stepping up after Brendan Curry went down. One of Kelly’s goals came as he found himself free about 12 yards directly in front of the cage, caught, turned and just buried a nasty bounce shot. The fact of the matter is he plays bigger than he looks and he’s one of the smartest, most competitive players on the field every time we see him. His stick’s extremely accurate and fast and he never stops moving – that’s the name of the game at Calvert Hall.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

George Rittenhouse, Defense, Calvert Hall (Md.), Sr. – Air Force

Rittenhouse has come into his senior year looking physically fit, aggressive and ready to help the Cardinals make a run at the MIAA ‘A’ Conference title. He was an animal at the Brine King of Spring event in Calvert Hall’s three victories, using his range and athleticism to hang up attackmen, sometimes before they even entered the box, to help cause turnovers a number of times. He looked like a high-end Division I prospect each time he was making up a play to fling a player to the side, grab the ball and come up the field. Sunday he was again impressive as the Cardinals defense barely let St. John’s out of Texas get a sniff at the cage for long stretches of the game. Rittenhouse is an excellent off the ground and is a threat to create plays in transition.

Roman Puglise, Midfield, Paul VI (Va.), Jr. – Maryland

Puglise was a monster for the Panthers in their unthinkable comeback win against St. Anne’s-Belfield (Va) at the Brine King of Spring event. Built at 5-foot-11 and a solid 175 pounds, he has started to show he can get down the alley for his shot. He has a great shot motion, usually shooting overhand or a ¾ release and seemingly sticking it with accuracy more often than not. Barrelling down the lane, he is not easy to stop and his shot was on against the Saints as the hard-dodging, hard-shooting midfielder put up a beefy four-goal, two-assist performance against the Saints – a huge part of the comeback blitz. A first-team All-WCAC pick last year as a sophomore, Puglise is already on pace for a big year in 2016.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Phil Robertson, Attack, St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.), Sr. – Princeton

In the first half against Paul VI, Roberts simply could not miss. The compact, explosive attackman might lack size, but he doesn’t lack a burst and that can help him propel for the extra step, the extra angle, and then he just blasts the ball. That’s how his first half went against Paul VI. He was firing his team up, too, as the goals were excellent individual efforts topped off with corner finishes. At least one of those was a turning jump shot. He was literally putting the ball in the 90 or wrapping it around the post and a couple of his shots looked like there would be no way of stopping him getting it off. He used his athleticism to leave his feet, get the stick way back and get a lot of torque. The righty is obviously feeling it this season and collected four in the first game we saw him this year. All of those goals came in the first half as the Saints stormed out to a big lead in a great rivalry matchup.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Taylor Acra, Midfield, Norfolk Academy (Va.), Jr.

Acra was one of the most impressive two-way midfielders we saw at the event. He’s a fast multi-sport athlete who can move laterally along the perimeter, make hard contact on a dodger, keep his balance and keep his hips square. He showed endurance by seemingly running up and down the field with ease on a few shifts. He was fast and rode the ball hard in transition. He is smooth and was clearly a key player for Norfolk throughout the weekend. He put up a pair of assists in the loss to Charlotte Country Day but really shined as work horse who’s able to use his athleticism on offense, defense and in the midfield.

John Donahue, Defense, Charlotte Country Day (N.C.), Sr. – Colgate

Donahue had a good showing in front of us as a big, strong defender who just plays smart position defense and uses his tall frame and reach as an obstacle to passes and easy shooting angles. He disrupted a number of plays for the Buccaneers by timing his checks or slides. He’s a big, 6-foot-4 multi-sport athlete who gradually made more of an impact throughout the game.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Steven Cornwell, LSM, Paul VI (Va.) – Maryland

It was great to see Cornwell out on the field and fully healthy and making plays in an exciting game for the Panthers. He’s got a bit of a nasty streak in him and he goes after the ball and attacks the hands and stick. He’s faster up the field than the last time we saw him. He was all over the middle of the field for Paul VI and was a challenge for midfielders to dodge against with his active stick and ability to cover the top of the box. He chewed up the ball carrier on a couple possessions and both directly and indirectly contributed to a number of caused turnovers.

Billy Coyle, Attack, Malvern Prep (Pa.), Jr. – Cornell

Coyle is a super-quick, fast decision-making attackman and it makes him a real pain to cover as he is just every where around the cage and inside the box during transition or the ride. He’s relentless and uses his change of direction to repeatedly attack his man with a number of jabs and turns and it eventually helps him create breakdowns. He was electrifying against Cardinal Gibbons and was essentially the sparkplug of the offense as the Friars rolled past the Cardinals with an impressive spread of offensive contributions. But Coyle was right in the middle of it all, seeming always a task to account for as he kept moving and cutting without the ball and went to the rack with a purpose when he had it. The lefty’s stick is quick and he can bury shots around the cage, and he will also go to his right. A number of his goals came from within a couple yards of the goal.

Jack Traynor, Midfield/Attack, Malvern Prep (Pa.), Soph. – Penn State

Traynor has really quick hands and feet and uses them to go 90-miles-an-hour at his defender and find all kinds of openings working off the ball. He was a nightmare to track for the Cardinal Gibbons defense, able to sneak around and catch and shoot with little time. He can throw fakes and move the goalie and stuff the ball in the net and we watched him do that a couple times as he found some opportunities close to the goal, finishing the day with four goals and an assist. He can dodge and redodge with speed and it allows him to wear down a defender in a one-on-one matchup. Like a lot of the Friars offensive players, he handles the ball with confidence and can be productive carrying, or playing off the ball.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Jack Hayden, Attack, Apex (N.C.), Sr. – Hampton Sydney

Hayden had a nice day for the Cougars, scoring three times and assisting on two others against Pope. He’s a player who moves with and without the ball and is eager to find space. He’s 6-foot or 6-foot-1 and has a big frame and is able to get inside the defense to receive passes and finish the ball. He also plays with his head up and will quickly catch and move the ball with barely a cradle. The lefty’s got a smart style of play and barely has to have the ball in his stick a lot to put up five points like he did against Pope. He plays with his stick up and ready and his passes are on point. He’s unselfish too.

McCabe Watson, Attack, Ravenscroft School (N.C.), Soph.

Watson is an attackman who, despite being about 5-foot-10 and about 160 pounds, appears to have a good mix of power and speed and shows smart decision-making early in his high school career. The righty has a smooth release with a big windup. He can use his big stride to get momentum and separation as a dodger from behind or even up top as he’s shown before. He has a slickness to his game, but he brings a physical nature to his dodging, as he will go into contact and can be resilient to it and still get to his shots. He has made a transition from midfield to attack and that’s started to bring out his scoring abilities around the cage. His mix of skills and physical attributes makes him an attractive prospect. He put up two goals and two assists on Friday night against his school’s rival Providence Day School. He’s another one of the Carolina Cannons guys.

Tyler Carpenter, LSM, Durham Academy (N.C.), Soph.

Carpenter is a player to watch. His freshman-year numbers alone are impressive: 10 goals, 12 assists and 77 groundballs. 3d Rising loves a good lift check, and Carpenter shows that off and other well-timed, effective checks that cause major problems for unsuspecting ball carriers. Carpenter hounds them, gets into them, tangles up hands and stick and then sucks the ball right up – first-attempt, it’s off the ground – and he is not easy to turn over. His stick is super active in the lanes and he does knock down and intercept passes regularly. He shows a wiry toughness to him. And he handles the stick with confidence and really whips it around, even carrying it with one hand to help him protect it on the many clears he helps lead. This is a high IQ defender who stands out for his hard work, his good decisions off and on the ball and his ability to become an offensive threat with the long pole, or at the very least help encourage transition by leading the break and pushing it to teammates when it’s there. He had a good showing throughout the weekend for Durham Academy in an overtime loss to Charlotte Latin (N.C.) and a tough loss to Episcopal (Va.). He is the son of a coach and it tends to show. Carpenter also plays for event host Carolina Cannons.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Wheeler Gibson, Midfield, St. John’s (Texas), Jr.

Gibson was one of several players on the St. John’s team who plays numerous sports and stood out for his athleticism as a midfielder on both sides of the ball. When he dodged, he was very tough to stop from getting down the lane. He was able to beat his man down the alley more than once against Calvert Hall and got some good looks at the cage. He buried one of them, one of his team’s only goals. But even at the end of the game, he was attacking the cage north-south with his speed. He’s got a good enough handle to protect it and then get off a hard, winding shot as he closed in on the cage. He played hard, tough lacrosse as a D-middie and helped his team create some challenges for the Cardinals early in the game.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Henry Follows, Attack, The Hill Academy (Ont.), Fr.

A small lefty attackman with great wrists and a hard, accurate shot, Follows had huge game for the Hill Academy’s younger team in the 9-8 win over Charlotte Catholic (N.C.). He showed off a clean, consistent release on some of his overhand shots. He kept looming over on the backside and patiently waiting and watching for openings. He just kept finding them and it produced some easy looks. He finished most of the open shots he had. He is very sneaky, has an excellent stick, a low center of gravity, hands and smarts.

Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising

Owen Down, Defense, The Hill Academy (Ont.), Fr.

Down is noticeable immediately as a huge presence down low – at least 6-foot-4 already and with plenty of meat on his bones. He’s able to use his stick to effectively to keep dodgers below GLE and essentially direct them away from the cage with his big frame and the reach and apparent power. He was one of several players on the young Hill squad who showed well in their early varsity action.

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.