Iroquois Nationals U19 Tryouts: High School-Age Standouts
I had the pleasure of taking in the second day of the Iroquois Nationals U-19 open tryouts, which were held this past Sunday. The weather was a perfect 55 degrees and sunny at the Nichols School in Buffalo.
Approximately 80 players attended the tryout and the skill level was extremely high. This event gave us a great look at some of the Iroquois players that aren’t actively involved in the recruiting process and might not frequent recruiting events.
The team will be cut down to a 23-man roster with three additional alternates selected by the time the FIL U19 Men’s World Lacrosse Championships roll around next summer in Coquitlam, British Columbia. A few other tryout dates scheduled this fall, but this past weekend was an important one for players to get seen early in this process.
The beginning of the day started out with some warm-ups and drills led by coaches Marty Ward (Limestone), Mark Burnam (Syracuse) and Garrett Cree (SUNY Plattsburgh). The group then split into four teams and rotated between two fields scrimmaging against each other. There was some top talent that is already enrolled in college trying out that stood out like Layne Smith (Onondaga CC), Chaunce Hill (Albany), Colyn Lyons (Albany), Kason Tarbell (Cornell), Brennen Ferguson (Syracuse), and others. But, below, we highlight some of the top players who aren’t currently enrolled in college.
Austin Staats, Attack, Assumption College (Ont.)/Cayuga, 2016 Staats was one of the most polished players at the tryout. He is a smooth lefty that plays on the attack. He could feed as well as he could score and made a few cross-crease passes that had no business getting through but he put them right on his teammates stick. He’s a tall player that can back his man in and take physical play from his defender and still make smart decisions with the ball. Staats’ behind-the-back passes look as routine as an overhand pass. When he was left open he was able to showcase his hard shot that rarely missed. He was also a hard rider and played the ball all the way to the midfield. On one play a midfield teammate got stuck behind the play and Staats went over to play some defense and he did a nice job of staying with his man and not getting beat. After a fall with the Iroquois Nationals men’s box team that earned the silver medal at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships, he should have a great shot at making the U19 team.
Owen Hill, Midfield/FO, Akron High School (N.Y.)/Seneca, 2018 Hill dominated at the face-off X all day. He is a stocky, athletic player that can win the ball to himself or draw it out to his wings. I’m not sure I saw him lose a face-off all day. On one draw, he won it to himself and started a fast break, drew a man, and then flipped an underhanded feed to an open attackman. On another play he took it himself and face-dodged through a few poles and their checks before burying the shot himself. In settled offense he cut from up top and took a hard overhand shot that he tucked in the goal. Hill’s decent size combines with his deceptive strength and quickness to make him a tough matchup especially if he draws a short stick.
Hoya John, Defense, Lake Shore High School (N.Y.)/Seneca, 2016 John gets better every time I see him play. He was matched against some of the top attackman at the tryout and more than held his own. He played with his feet first and limited his checks. His ability to dictate where his man can go with his feet was outstanding. I’m not sure I saw him get beat and he had a handful of caused turnovers. He pressed way out on the right-handed wing on his opponent in the one scrimmage and by just staying on his hands and playing with his feet first he caused a turnover that led to a fastbreak and a goal for his team. Off ball his stick was active and was always in the passing lanes.
Raienteres Oakes, Midfield, Mohawk, 2017 Oakes is fast midfielder that could create for himself and did a number of times. The righty was able to get his shot a in a number of ways. He could get by his man and get his hands free for a shot off of sweeps to his strong hand, and also on north-south dodges that showed him use a combination of moves to get by his man. His most impressive play of the day might have been when the defender was overplaying his right hand and he split back to his left and took a hard shot that resulted in a goal. That play proved he can make you pay even when you take away his strength and aren’t prepared for him to go away from it. He came up with a few groundballs from the wing on the face-offs and was definitely a threat in transition with his speed.
Daylen Paul-Hill, Midfield, Assumption College (Ont.)/Tuscarora, 2016 Paul-Hill caught the eye of a number of people this weekend. The left-handed midfielder scored a couple of goals in the scrimmages. His speed and stick skills made him a tough matchup for his defender. I saw him score a goal on a nice sidearmed shot where he cut to space and his teammate found him. He then scored a goal on a hard overhanded shot. Paul-Hill’s ability to play without the ball, find seams and cut to places where he makes himself a threat and where his teammates can get him the ball was especially impressive. Never could you find him standing around and watching his teammates, which could have been very easy to do with some of the talented players on the field.
Cecil Monture, Midfield/FO/Attack, Assumption College (Ont.)/Mohawk, 2017 Cecil is a big-bodied player that takes face-offs and can play attack or midfield. He was winning the face-offs either to himself or to his wings showing that he is versatile as a draw man. When he wins it to himself he can get momentum going to create transition and his shot certainly demands enough respect to draw a slide. On one play during a settled offensive set, Monture cut from the top left of the offense and received a pass and took a shot that he stuck right under the crossbar drawing some “oohs” and “ahhs” from his teammates. If you chase his stick he will make you pay by running right through your checks. It would take a very physical pole to slow him down. He also showed the ability to find his teammates with some passes that shouldn’t have made it through the defense but wound up right in their sticks. He had a number of assists in the games I saw him play to go along with his goals.
Austin Skye, Midfield, Cayuga The tall midfielder had a nice day and played well in the two scrimmages I saw him. The lefty had some of the strongest stick skills at the tryout. He was able to dodge to the middle of the defense and never seemed to lose the ball. He could find an open man and distribute it out, run to space and reset for another dodge, or move it to an open teammate. Skye had some success coming off the face-off wings and played tenaciously when the ball was on the ground. His ability to take care of the ball and push transition, which seemed like a point of emphasis for coaches on Sunday, could make him a good prospect for the Iroquois squad.
Devon Buckshot, Midfield, Lafayette (N.Y.)/Onondaga, 2017 Buckshot is a big and deceptively quick midfielder who’s able to create for himself and others. He looked comfortable with the ball wherever he had it and was able to find an open teammate even in the tightest of places. The righty was a matchup nightmare for short sticks as he is natural attackman that plays that position for Lafayette south of Syracuse. His stick skills were very obvious and his knack for finishing was clear on a shot he scored underhanded after running by his defender and finding himself one-on-one with the goalie for the high-percentage opportunity.
Percy Booth, Attack, Lafayette (N.Y.)/Seneca, 2016 Booth is another midfielder from Lafayette with a lot of field experience. Booth’s skills and overall game has improved tremendously in the last couple years, culminating in his outstanding 61-goal, 44-assist campaign last spring as a junior. The big lefty creates matchup problems with his size and strength. He drew the pole a handful of times and was content to just take him to the crease. Off the ball, Booth seemed most comfortable moving around on the interior looking for a pass from his teammates. He could and would dodge on whoever matched up with him. On one play he showed his accurate, hard shot from outside. But it was his soft hands inside that really stood out.
Brett LaFonte, Goalie, Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School (Ont.)/Hiawatha, 2016 LaFonte was, in my opinion, the top goalie at the tryout on Sunday. He’s a big player that takes up a lot of the net and did a nice job playing the angles. He made some nice stops throughout the day. The way the offense was moving the ball LaFonte was forced to face quite a few one-on-ones but he held his own and made some nice saves on the point blank shots. He showed that he can start fast breaks with his clearing pass, too, which helped his team get up the field fast and create transition. LaFonte stood out in the drills conducted earlier in the day when the goalies were seeing a lot more shots than in the scrimmages.