Oceanside Hustle: Fall 2015 Standouts

Oceanside Hustle: Fall 2015 Standouts (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)
Oceanside Hustle: Fall 2015 Standouts (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

The Oceanside Hustle, in its second year, is 3d Lacrosse’s premiere late fall recruiting event that takes place just a few minutes from the beaches of San Diego County in Southern California.

Featuring teams from up and down the West Coast, it’s a good opportunity for college coaches to get a look at a unique collection of players just before the holiday season comes around and the focus turns completely to next spring.

3d Rising traveled to Oceanside to take in the two-day event, which culminated in division championships Sunday afternoon. Championship winners in the scholastic division were 212 Lacrosse out of Utah (2016/2017), 3d San Diego (2018) and 3d Dallas (2019).

Perfect weather, a great lineup of food trucks and an awesome venue in an incredibly scenic section of Southern California made for the best experience of the fall by far.

As we shot photographs and witnessed the action across Saturday and Sunday, we made observations on a bunch of players who were performing well for their respective teams. We also connected with some of the coaches after the event to get their thoughts on some of their players’ performances. (Thanks to the coaches, who were a big help.)

We didn’t get to see all the teams, as there were more than 100 on hand. But we saw as many as possible and tried below to highlight some of the best players we could see.

Ryan Baker, Defense, Juan Diego (Utah)/212 Lacrosse, 2017 – Bryant

Baker was a rock for the 212 Lacrosse squad as it made a run to the 2016/2017 championship at the Oceanside Hustle. Aggressive to groundballs, showing great stick skills and with a good mix of toughness and fundamentals, Baker was the most impressive defensive player for the championship-winning 212 squad. He can play close defense and long stick midfield as well. In the championship game, the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Baker did a little bit of everything – coming off the wing for groundballs on draws, covering the opposition’s top player as he had all weekend and providing a strong and athletic presence in the middle of the field. In one-on-one situations, Baker shows good balance and can get low and he competes hard. He is quick enough to get out and press and can harass the ball carrier. He is not easy to budge and with his active feet and stick he doesn’t let a ball carrier sit back and make easy decisions.

Quentin Buchman, Midfield, Santa Margarita (Calif.)/212 Lacrosse, 2018 - Bryant

A standout we’ve highlighted in the past, Buchman is developing into a promising well-rounded midfielder. It starts with his legs and his stamina – he is fast and can run hard for long durations. His quick feet and ability to accelerate make him dangerous as a dodger, as he can break down defenders and get on an angle to the cage with momentum. Then he lets go and the shots are accurate and hard. He was crucial to 212’s success at the Oceanside Hustle. Buchman scored two huge goals in the championship game, both of them coming on outside blasts. One was a textbook overhand release; the other was a low-to-low zip off a pass that came in low. His club coach, North Carolina alum Mike Acee, pointed out that Buchman is advanced for a West Coast player given his ability to pull out of a dodge and make a feed, some of them diagonal, with pressure on him. He had an excellent showing at the Oceanside event.

Liam Cavanaugh-Fernandez, Midfield, Cathedral Catholic (Calif.)/212 Lacrosse, 2017

Cavanaugh-Fernandez had an impressive showing at the Oceanside Hustle as a fast, dynamic midfielder who was an important piece of the equation for 212 Lacrosse’s title run. The right-handed California native proved to be a challenging matchup given his speed and his physical dodging style. He also showed good vision out of those dodges which made him an extra threat – the passing sort of comes back to his feet; he’s moving so quick you have to fight to keep with him and meanwhile he will likely have his hands free. He put up two goals in the championship game, including a goal on a downhill dodge to the rack against one of the better poles at the event; he dodged to his left, rolled back to his right, got hung up, and then spun back inside to bounce for the finish. That played showed excellent balance and a naturally smooth change of direction. He scored another goal by hustling to snag the ball off the ground following a bad clearing pass, then dodged right to the rack through the scrambling defense (with a quick split) and shot the ball into the lower left corner. Early in the event, he accelerated up the field and flung the ball to the wing for an assist on the fastbreak. He might have been one of the fastest players at the entire event.

Alec Meyer, Attack, Juan Diego (Utah)/212 Lacrosse, 2017 – Air Force

Meyer showed himself to be a dynamic attackman who helped his team in a number of ways. The Utah native has excellent hands and can unload from outside, with range, accuracy and power. In the championship game, he let one go on a fastbreak feed off a face-off win. Throughout the tournament he showed some slickness behind the cage and made some key feeds goals, including a couple in the semifinals. He also scored goals dodging to the cage and others on shots more from outside. Before the title game, we saw him nail the top right corner on a sidearm blast in transition from the wing. Then, from near the same spot, he spun off his defender to put the ball just under the cross bar. He made a nice look out of a pick play to set up a teammate for an easy doorstep goal. He also pulled off a behind-the-back shot from out on the wing that just barely missed, hitting the left post instead. Meyer showed IQ, slickness and was instrumental in 212’s run to the 2016/2017 title.

Michael Abizaid, Midfield/FO, Landon (Md.)/212 Lacrosse, 2017

A Mid-Atlantic player who joined the 212 Lacrosse squad for the tournament, Abizaid won his draw attempts in the range of 80 to 85 percent. He stands about 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds and has good control off the draws. He is dangerous out the front, proving that at the Oceanside Hustle by sparking at least three or four fastbreak goals for his team, including one in the championship and one in the semifinals – both proving to be key goals. Most importantly, he helped the team own possession for the most part and give its offense repeated chances. Abizaid, who works with face-off guru and current MLL pro Chris Mattes back east, had a solid showing and was machine-like in his performance at the X and regular contributions to fastbreak offense.

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

Jake McLean, Midfield, Alpha (Calif.)/Alpha, 2016 - Towson

McLean showed himself to be one of the best midfielders at the event -- a tenacious, hard-nosed player who scrapped and fought in the middle of the field and who was an extremely difficult matchup on offense thanks to his quick dodging ability, athleticism and the strength to get through checks and physical contact. It also helps that he has a cannon of a shot that he can get off quickly from different release points and spots on the field. He was outstanding in one of the best matchups we saw, a game between Alpha and the LA Mavs. Going after a loose ball on one play, he laid a huge hit on an opposing player and kept his balance. He showed explosiveness off the dodge and the ability to keep going while being checked on the shoulder, hands and back. He could get himself close to the cage, and while moving fast can shoot hard. He can snap the shot quickly and get a lot of velocity and accuracy on it even when he looked like he might not get to the shot at all. He became a challenging matchup for each team he faced. He showed great body control on his dodges, along with strength and quick-reflexes to capitalize on his dodges by quickly getting to a shot, like already mentioned, time and time again. We saw him score at least three goals in another game, including a shot to the lower left as he was on the run. He scored another by setting his feet with time and room up top for a low-to-low blast. And he scored another on a big windup from up top on EMO. McLean looks like one of the grittiest, most skilled midfielders in the San Diego region. And he competes at an extremely high level. He is vicious pursuing the ball between the lines and on the ride, and on offense he plays with confidence and used his determination and great package of skills and abilities to consistently make himself the focus of the opposing defense.

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

Travis Wilson, LSM, La Costa (Calif.)/Alpha, 2017

Wilson, whom we highlighted at this event last year as a close defender, had an impressive showing at the Oceanside Hustle as a fast, hyper-aggressive and skilled-with-the-stick long pole. He has size, range (which seems to increase as he makes plays because of his athleticism) and he has excellent stick skills that have developed over the last couple of years, without question. It helps him have a relentless presence on the field and allows him to overwhelm a typical ball carrier. He can throw big, powerful checks to either side because he can move the stick fast enough to go back and forth, as well move his legs rapidly to stay with the man. He can swing the stick high and low and away from his body when carrying on the clear and throws some monstrous fakes that help him get separation to complete clears, or in some cases, get some room to go to the net. One of the goals we saw him score was an authoritative take right down the gut in which he threw a fake and tucked the ball high in the net from just feet outside the crease. At maybe just over 6-foot and 180 pounds, Wilson really shined in the LSM role at Oceanside and seemed to be one of Alpha’s most consistent playmakers.

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

Andrew Beacham, Midfield, La Costa Canyon (Calif.)/Alpha, 2017 – Towson

Beacham had a excellent weekend showing off his skills and abilities as a two-way midfielder with speed, stamina and playmaking abilities on both sides of the field. A nimble, lean right-handed player, Beacham played a key role for the Alpha squad, serving as one of the team’s main midfield dodging options on offense but also playing some of the most effective short-stick defense thanks to his lateral quickness, good balance/coordination and his ability to spark transition once he got the ball in his stick. On the ball, he stayed low and worked hard as he stayed in front of the man and was immediate to respond to a miscue like a dropped ball or poor stick protection on a roll away. On offense, Beacham showed himself to be a smooth dodger who could draw attention with his ability to cover ground and get off a hard shot. He went to his left to go of a really hard shot, showing he can and will go to either hand. His athleticism allows him to recover out of a dodge if a defense closes up on him.

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

Brendan Egan, Midfield, Oak Park (Calif.)/LA Mavs, 2016 - Bucknell

Eagan had an outstanding weekend at the Oceanside Hustle, showing himself to be a powerful downhill dodger but also a savvy playmaker with the ball and a highly skilled shooter from various spots on the field. The thick, hard-dodging righty put up two goals in our first viewing of him at Oceanside. He scored one on a hard alley dodge, spinning inside, getting even closer and then finishing from close range. The other goal we saw came as Egan pulled back and hammered a long-range bomb from top the box, beating the goalie near the feet. We also watched him whip a good look inside off the dodge, showing he can see a cutter while going to the rack himself. But in addition to creating on offense, he made plays to help keep the ball on his side of the field. He’s a hustler and uses his size and quickness on groundballs and gets his head right up to make a pass or run to the goal. The righty should be primed for a huge season after putting up 40 goals and 18 assists from the midfield at Oak Park last season.

Nathanial Heritage, Attack, Bellingham (Wash.)/Steelhead, 2016

We got to see the Steelhead squad out of Washington, which gave us the opportunity to watch Heritage, one of the highest scoring players from the Evergreen State. Heritage is a skilled right-handed attackman who is able to create for himself and others thanks to a good skillset, a decent-sized frame and poise as a ball carrier. He is a bit lanky and rangy, and that helps him operate as a dodger because he’s long and can protect the stick while carrying and can stay tall to look for the cutter. He has a quarterback attackman’s skillset with the size and his head-up approach. When we caught Steelhead, we saw Heritage score from X, showing that he can be slippery as a matchup when trying to get topside. Then we saw him feed for two goals in short time. One of those was to a cutter flying down the alley. The other saw Heritage sprint up to meet a rolling groundball that had crossed the midline, and he then lobbed a pass across to a teammate who caught it and had time to wind up.

Cooper Isaacs, LSM, Agoura (Calif.)/LA Mavs, 2018

Isaacs showed himself to be a relentless, skilled and athletic long stick who made a lot of things happen with his rapid pace. In one of the most competitive games we watched at the event, it was Cooper who came up with somewhere in the range of four or five groundballs very, two or three of those coming on his defensive end of the field as he beat people to the ball. He has a burst and get up the field quickly. He showed a really nice handle too, coming up with some loose balls near the sideline and kept his speed and balance. Working up at the top of the box, Isaacs consistently showed he could match foot speed with those who dodged against him and he usually ran them out toward the sideline and off the path to the goal. Isaacs was everywhere in the couple games we watched him. His motor is evident pretty quickly.

Joe Glassman, Defense, Agoura (Calif.)/LA Mavs, 2016

Glassman is a smaller defender, but skilled and tough, and he proved to be a strong presence on the backend for the LA Mavs team at Oceanside. The righty showed good footwork and was a pest by staying right on the ball carriers hands, low and throwing a lot of checks, but none of them reaching. Being low to the ground, he was able to easily scoop through groundballs and start up the field with his good quickness. He scored a great goal that we saw, carrying into the box, taking it to the cage, rolling underneath and putting the long pole in his left hand to finish the shot.

Taylor Dankenbring, Defense, Agoura (Calif.)/LA Mavs, 2017

Dankenbring jumped out immediately as one of the most physical imposing and athletic defenders at the Oceanside Hustle. Standing at 6-foot-4 and 180 pounds, Dankenbring is a rangy, strong presence on the backend of the field and a physical player who is hard to beat. Overpowering and outsizing many attackman in the 2016/2017 group, Dankenbring can cover a lot of ground on sidesteps and it is a really tall task for any attackman to get topside on him with his ability to push out and get a stick on the hands. Looking like a big oak tree out there, but moving well, he is hard-nosed, but controlled and his powerful checks are on the hands and not only disrupt a cradle but the ball carrier’s path. He waves the stick around and it becomes an obstacle for the ball carrier. Dankenbring is fast to groundballs and shows his long legs and athleticism coming up the field. He showed good sense on a couple clears to roll back and pass to an open midfielder and one time put a pass right on the ear while on the run himself.

Hall Peters, LSM/Defense, St. Ignatius Prep (Calif.)/3d NorCal, 2017 – Virginia

Peters did a lot of the heavy-lifting for the 3d NorCal team, helping the squad make it to the championship game for a good battle with 212 Lacrosse. Peters was at the front line, taking draws in a bit of changed roles and then also asked to cover the opposition’s top midfield threat. He showed his tenacity and his athleticism atop the box and coming up the field. Peters is stronger than he looks and shows that in his one-on-one play, able to body up with players who have size and power. Peters has incredible stamina and competes from start to finish.

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

Tony Chassen, Defense, Poway (Calif.)/3d San Diego, 2016

Chasen really grew on us throughout the weekend as we got to see him in different games. The left-handed defender is a massive, wide-spanning presence on the backend with his 6-foot-4, 190 pound frame. What also stands out about Chassen is his careful tendencies in one-on-one defense, as he is balanced and keeps square to the ball while easily reaching his stick in to the player's hands. He waits until a good time to get aggressive, meaning when doesn't have to overextend and give the dodger an easy direction. He really stays in front of them and keeps them away from him with his stick extended out as he shuffles his feet. We saw him put the ball on the ground numerous times but also get his stick up into the lanes to make passes difficult. He can move his feet well -- he is a multi-sport athlete who also excels in water polo -- and that is how he became so hard to dodge against. His range and ability to cover ground without exerting himself allows him to keep that careful, precise approach and it makes him highly effective, and then he impressed with his athleticism when he got the ball and moved up the field. When put up on the wing, he soared in to grab the ground ball and showed some decent speed with those long legs. His stick is solid, as he was able to quickly grab the ball off the ground and cradle to safety, also throwing a fake one time to get room to complete a pass.

Cole Zarola, Attack, Westview (Calif.)/3d San Diego, 2017

Zarola proved himself to be a sneaky and skilled attackman who, despite having a small 5-foot-7 frame, really understands how to put himself in scoring position. The ambidextrous attackman scored from both sides of the cage when we observed him at the Oceanside Hustle. The slippery, tough player shines off the ball. He scored at least four goals when we were on the sideline for a couple different games, each time showing a really nice snap of the wrists and good form with it often releasing from the collar bone. He will keep his shoulders high and release high, but snap it low, which his club coaches indicate makes him feel more like a Canadian or Northeastern player after seeing him show that form so many times. Zarola indeed showed he is a refined shooter and deft off-ball player at Oceanside. One of his goals came on a sidearm skipper utilizing a screen. Another saw him slice the top left corner from the left wing. Zarola scored on a blast from further out and later we saw him cut to open space, take a tight feed to show good hands and then faked and finished to show off that part of his game as well. He is a talented shooter who consistently gets himself into the right space behind a slide or double and finishes the ball from different points on the field. His shots have more mustard than his size would predicate.

Jack Woodard, Attack, Poway (Calif.)/3d San Diego, 2017

Woodard appears to have grown four to five inches since we last watched him, and he looks -- despite the time spent recovering -- more athletic, bigger and stronger. The right-handed attackman looks now to be about 6-foot-1 and combines with that newly developed size good skills as a dodger and shooter from the wing. he sells out as a dodger and as a rider, always willing to use his body and willing to get acrobatic to make a play. One of the goals we saw him score at the Oceanside Hustle came on a nasty hitch and go from the wing; he lost his man at about GLE and then pulled back to hammer the lower right corner with all kinds of room to let it go. His first step is a hard one, and with his willingness to go right into the heart of a defense, he demands a slide in those situations. He is slick enough and confident enough to make a second move after beating his man. Off the ball, he is gutsy as a cutter, willing to go into the middle. His size and skill level make him a very attractive prospect and, now that he's back to full health, he is in position to have a pretty monstrous spring at Poway.

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

Tristan Wright, Goalie, Galena (Nev.)/Booth Indians, 2017 - Denver

Wright was our pick for most outstanding goalie at the Oceanside Hustle, across all divisions. The Nevada native put up one of the most impressive goalie performances we can remember at a recruiting event, making at least 20 saves on one game, including more than ten in the first half and upward of 15 in the second. The Denver-bound goalie is as blue collar as it gets: he's tough, he is active in and out of the cage and he gets his entire body into the action when he's facing the shooter and reacting to the ball. He communicates and tries to help defenders. His only struggle was that he was throwing some passes a bit high on a few clears, but -- like a good teammate -- he patted his chest protector and indicated he knew it was his fault. His mesh was giving him a hard time. But shooters were not. He was fantastic facing all ranges and releases, showing the ability to get out to any point of the net, including off hip. He is an athlete, and that allows him to use his height/range (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) effectively to quickly fill up a corner. His height makes him an imposing presence when shooters try to go high. In his 20-save performance, there wasn’t many shot types he didn't save, including high heat, bounce shots, low shots to the corners and shots from players who dodged from X to be free to shoot on the crease. Wright explodes out of the cage and can sprint up field to make the clear himself, as he appears to be one of the most physically fit players on the field. He spun out of the net to burst back to win the backup at least twice we saw at the Oceanside event. His arms indicate that a workout regime is likely in place for this promising young keeper. And his performance shows a hardworking player who will likely get better based on pure effort alone. His combination of size/range, athleticism and stopping abilities makes him unique in the 2017 class.

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

Sam Handley, Attack, Jesuit (Ore.)/3d Oregon, 2018 - Penn

Handley has developed into one of the premiere players from the West Coast, projecting as possibly one of the very best in the country by the time he graduates. The tall and strong righty attackman shined as one of the most dominant players at the event, not just in the 2018 class. Playing on the left side, he made it clear he can use his off hand nearly as well as his strong hand. He might have come close to the 20-point mark in the play-in games alone. What jumps out is Handley’s ability to handle the ball while using his big, 6-foot-3 frame to back in and peer into the middle of the field. His hands are quick and he carries the stick like it’s small. He can very quickly pull up to pass, and it’s easy for him to get a defender bodied up, and then slip off of him or roll back or inside. He got a few defensemen to become frustrated and start trying to take the ball away, and he just easily made one move – a hitch or a face-dodge inside – to beat them. He is a nightmare matchup given the size and ability to get his hands free and given his second and third moves to get himself to the interior or just above GLE enough to get a shot. He has a powerful, big windup and can put the ball in the corners. He plays smart with the ball, seemingly well aware of when he’s got a chance or not. We saw all of this out of him at the Oceanside event, where we watched him put up at least fives goals and an assist in one game, and then score another three or four in another. On one play, Handley carried at length – to the point his coaches started to offer up some words – but Handley really had no one open; he kept the ball despite being doubled and swarmed by more players and then pumped a pass inside just at the right moment for a one-timer. That same game, he carried topside, backed his defender down from the island spot, turned, hitched to the middle to get space and then threw the goalie off with a 3/4-style release that hit the lower left. He had other impressive individual plays in that game that showed his ability to start and finish plays at a high level, making a strong dodge, then a good second move to get to a high-percentage shot or get his hands free to pass, and then making seemingly putting the ball right in a corner each time or whipping a pass right to a teammate’s stick. Handley’s performance at Oceanside speaks to the huge spring he should have.

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

Kelan Cutting, Goalie, Poway (Calif.)/3d San Diego, 2018

Cutting shined in cage in helping guide the San Diego squad to the 2018 title at the Oceanside Hustle. The quick, good-sized keeper can close up space and step to the ball in a flash. His biggest performance came in the finale, when he turned away about a half dozen quality shots against by a talented 3d Oregon team to help the San Diego team put together a run and go on to win the title. He gave his team emotional momentum with some exciting stops. A few of those came on the doorstep and in broken-play scenarios. His sideline was fired up; he remained calm and went on to make a few more like that. Angles were different on shots that followed and Cutting came up big in the clutch. 3d Oregon had been rocking and rolling up to that point. But Cutting had allowed only a pair of goals heading into the division playoffs. His coaches – current MLL players – say he can read the shooter and doesn’t guess, but is truly reacting to most shots accurately. Cutting moves well and stands about 5-10, 175. After coming on last spring for Poway as a freshman to help the team win the CIF San Diego title, Cutting looks like he could be one of the best keepers in California over the next few seasons.

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

Chase Taylor, Attack/Midfield, Great Oak (Calif.)/3d San Diego, 2018

Taylor stood out at the Oceanside Hustle as the 3d San Diego squad’s most daunting offensive matchup given his mix of size and skills. But Taylor, who had a clutch three-goal performance in the 2018 championship, made his plays in a variety of ways, not just as a dodger. Taylor stands about 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, and he is a really savvy player with and without the ball and in the middle of the field in transition or broken scenarios. He makes smart plays in the ride. As a dodger, he is patient and has little challenge in overpowering the average defender or short stick. He can protect his stick thanks to his ability to keep it up and away and shielded by his big frame. He can lean in and is gritty enough to go through checks and the double, which he can often force when he commits to pushing by his defender. He’s also got some quick hands inside, but is also a dangerous stationary shooter, especially out on the wing. In the title game, he scored after getting open on a cut to the backside, finishing with his right. He also scored on the extra-man, driving up from X and wrapping around with a shot to beat the goalie. He also made a really heady play to grab a clearing pass with one hand on his stick – showing great balance and reach to get high up for it – and then ran in, threw some fakes, hesitated to freeze the goalie and then scored. He had a great overall weekend at Oceanside and helped his team secure the title with an excellent timely performance.

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

Chase Crawford, Defense, Poway (Calif.)/3d San Diego, 2018

Crawford had a great showing at the Oceanside Hustle, proving himself to be a tough, fundamentally sound defender who is stronger than he looks. Crawford helped the 3d San Diego squad limit opponents leading up the championship matchup, where Crawford drew a tough assignment in an attackman who’d been outstanding and produced big points. Somewhat outsized, Crawford used his body and his stick carefully to play excellent one-on-one defense and locked down on his assignment, which became a crucial matchup and helped San Diego scoot out to a lead. The couple shots he did allow came from low angles and a bit further out. As his coaches pointed out, Crawford has bought into and committed himself to hammering the cross check as an attackman drives topside, never going for the takeaway. Because of his athletic, lean frame, he’s able to stay right in the hip pocket and it makes him effective as he can get his stick on the player’s stick and they are often forced to fade back to X or make a harmless pass up to the midfield. A key part of his game is using his body and stick in a disciplined manner.

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

Zane Sands, Defense, Sherwood (Ore.)/3d Oregon, 2018

Zanes shined at the Oceanside Hustle as a hard-nosed, athletic and rugged defender who could wreak havoc on the backend thanks to his superior size and speed. He’s well over six feet tall, maybe 6-foot-3 or so, and when he gets into the open field with the ball, his legs get moving and he shows impressive speed. He’s just tough and gets involved in the play all the time and can simply out-muscle, out-reach, out-scoop and out-run a lot of his peers in the class. That was what we noted about him at Oceanside, as he created chaos through a double or on the approach to the groundball, oftentimes coming up with it and then clearing out alone. His coaches point out that he is still developing as a one-on-one defender, but he showed all kinds of promise at the SoCal event by making a lot of plays to help his team regain possession. In transition, he was indeed an impressive force with a combination of wheels, a towering presence and a big winding stick. This multi-sport athlete has high-level lacrosse potential just based on size and athleticism alone, but his hard work on seemingly every play pushes his ceiling a bit higher. He also draws high praise from coaches for his character

Emmett Jones, Defense, Lakeridge (Ore.)/3d Oregon, 2018 - Michigan

Jones showed himself to be a really difficult matchup for even some of the most skilled attackman at the event. Showing a penchant for physical play including some hard slap checks and a smothering approach, Jones quickly makes it clear to attackman that he’s going to be aggressive and play them tough. He showed the strength when locked up with some athletic attackman to keep his balance and reach his stick into the hands to dislodge the ball. His 6-foot-1 height helps him, as do his long, powerful legs, which he actually uses to help his V-hold and really squeeze attackman into a faster decision or overwhelm them. Coming up the field, Jones shows that he continues to develop speed. He helped lead the way as the Oregon defense – an excellent group – was really tough to penetrate throughout the tournament.

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

Alex Slusher, Attack, Oregon Episcopal (Ore.)/3d Oregon, 2019

Slusher capped a tremendous fall run through the recruiting circuit with one more good outing at the Oceanside Hustle. The multi-tool attackman continues to show the ability to carry with his head up with a defender checking his hands and make a pass. In his last game of the tournament, we saw Slusher put up a goal and five assists. He consistently initiated from behind or out below the wing and GLE and would use his good mix of dodging and stick protection to get himself moving and thread the ball to teammates. Two or three of his assists were nearly identical feeds to the same player, in the same spot. Defenders look like they have to be in good shape to cover Slusher when he’s initiating that much because he will go and go at them every possession and has a wide assortment of dodges and shots and can package them in different ways. We saw him score a couple goals throughout the tournament that included the jump shot he likes from out near the 5x5 spot.

Harrison Berke, Defense/LSM, Johnson (Texas)/3d Dallas, 2019 – Johns Hopkins

Berke helped lead the 3d Dallas squad to the 2019 title, matched up against the opponent’s top player in each game and helping limit each of those players in the process. The athletic pole from Texas ran mostly LSM throughout the tournament. He came up with numerous groundballs and created a bunch of turnovers, with some of those coming out of a planned defensive scheme with his teammates shutting off while he just simply went out and took the ball away. He’s smart with it off the ground and can makes some impressive plays with the stick, choking up on it and handling it like a short stick. Berke’s highlight of the day might have come on the offensive end of the field, as he carried the ball over the midline, went all the way to X, pulled it out and isolated against a short stick, taking the ball to the cage and dunking over the goalie. The 6-foot, nimble righty is showing himself to be one of the more athletic, exciting defensive players early in this class. He is also showing that he can be dynamic.

Makay Hansen, Attack, Highland Park (Texas)/3d Dallas, 2019

Hansen had an excellent weekend for the 3d Dallas squad as the team’s most productive attackman and highest point producer on the way to the 2019 title. A skilled righty who knows how to use his body to free himself up for shots, Hansen will look to get topside or get inside to get his hands free. He can do that with an inside roll or can try to cradle through checks. He has shown to be dangerous catching and shooting from close range, even out on the wing from a low angle (using screens, too). His righty release is accurate and not necessarily heavy but accurate. He can also fake out a goalie, which he showed at Oceanside. In the championship game, he scored at least two goals. Throughout the weekend, his goals came in the form of drives from X to get inside and stuff the ball into the net; he got free off picks and caught and finished inside; and he scored a couple of great looking goals that saw him catch, hitch, face dodge inside and underneath to finish. As his coaches indicated, Hansen is showing he can make his skillset highly effective as an off-ball player, able to find space, but also deceptively talented at getting to a shot through his dodges, even if some are just quick, simple moves right off the catch. He showed the best hands on the 3d Dallas team and led the team in scoring by a good clip.

Elliot Hyman, Attack, Piedmont (Calif.)/Sac ADVNC, 2019

Hyman is an attackman who has a sturdy build for his age and shows an understanding of how to use his size and frame to his advantage as a goal scorer. It helped him piece together a strong weekend for Sac ADVNC to help the team each the title. The righty will need to develop speed, but he showed perseverance through his dodges, able to keep going to the cage with a defender try to tie him up; his build helps him stay up and protect the stick. Hyman is quicker than he looks, especially his change of direction as he dodges from behind. He can set a defender up for a face dodge immediately upon catching a pass. He can score close to the cage too thanks to his good hands and smooth release (he can shoot from different release points), which he showed by finishing off some opportunities created by his teammates. He created opportunities for them, too, sometimes drawing attention when he got the ball as a threat to shoot and then moving it, or making a look out of his carry. He sees the field well and uses deception to push the ball to teammates when it looks like he might be about to shoot or dodge. Hyman was his team’s most productive offensive player.

Zach Russell, Defense, Oak Ridge (Calif.)/Sac ADVNC, 2019

Russell had a good overall performance at the Oceanside Hustle, showing himself to be an intense, fast defender who could nullify the speediest player on the opposing team. His coaches put him up against opposing players scouted to be fast, and Russell showed he could keep with anyone, displaying excellent lateral mobility and good fundamentals with his body and stick to challenge attackman and disrupt their approach. He collected a number of caused turnovers throughout the weekend, most likely leading his team in that category.

Julian Dardano, FO/Midfield, Oak Ridge (Calif.)/Sac ADVNC, 2019

Dardano had an excellent weekend at the Oceanside Hustle as Sac ADVNC’s sparkplug at the face-off X, winning a high percentage of the draws he took against all opponents. His one-on-one success on draws proved to be a key reason for Sac ADVNC’s run to the title game in the 2019 division. Dardano is a scrapper and has to be given his smaller stature (about 5-foot-7, 145 pounds). And that’s what numerous coaches of opposing teams pointed out – Dardano was tough to beat, quick and battled to no end.

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.