Orange Crush Recruiting Showcase: Standouts
The Orange Crush College Recruiting Showcase is an event I’ve hit a few times now, and I like it more each time. It’s on the tail end of New York State’s championship weekend, and it always brings in most of the best players from Central New York, along with some of the best from the Southern Tier, the Capital Region, Western New York and Northern New York.
This year, we were on hand for the entirety of the Orange Crush Showcase, and we got a good look at a number of players from Section III, IV, V and beyond, and even players from the other side of the country.
Below are the All-Star from the event, followed by some of the players who stood out to us the most.
For more information on the Orange Crush Showcase, visit the club’s website at OrangeCrushLax.com.
Brendan Whalen Jace Whelan
Zach Van Valkenburgh
Ryan Archer, Attack, Jamesville-DeWitt (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2017
Archer blew up this spring at Jamesville-DeWitt – jumping from just one point as a freshman to a whopping 84 points as a sophomore on 62 goals and 22 assists. This lefty is very slick, has a coach’s son smarts and plays much tougher than you’d expect given his 5-foot-7 frame. Archer can PUMP the ball into the net. He’s just about automatic if he gets the ball inside a few yards. And if he gets it out on the wing, he can set his man up with a little hesitation or hitch-like movement and then slip past him. He will go at his man too, but he more often than not puts himself in a spot to be a threat and his shooting is outstanding. His hands are fast inside. Archer played well at Orange Crush showing off these traits, no surprise given his nasty performance in the spring. The son of former Syracuse attackman and current Red Rams head coach Jamie Archer had nine games last spring with five or more points. He’s one of the elite scorers coming back next year in Section 3 and is one of the better uncommitted players in Upstate New York at the moment.
Connor Nelson, Attack, New Hartford (N.Y.), 2017
Nelson had an excellent showing at the Orange Crush event as a high IQ quarterback attackman with vision and the ability to put passes on the money. Maybe inheriting some good genes from his relatives, Nelson easily emerged as one of the best then-uncommitted players in the 2017 group. He lit it up for several points in each chunk of games I caught. He registered two goals and an assist in one viewing, two assists in another, and then a slick behind-the-back goal to show he’s able to make the high-level play around the crease. He’s fundamentally sound in how he carries, protecting the stick well and operating with it up around his ear when looking to make feeds. He’s not a huge kid, but look at his stat line from last season: 43 goals and 46 assists as a sophomore. He’s got a lot of upside and should be a player to watch out of the Utica area for the next two seasons.
Casey Rogers, Attack, Westhill (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2017
In between the Orange Crush event and actually completing this report, I’ve seen Rogers play at two or three events and he’s had big moments at each of those, earning All-Star honors at Maverik Showtime, too. Later in the summer, at Lake Placid, Rogers ran with the Burning Orange, putting him on a line with two current Division I midfielders. The same traits that make him dangerous among his peers made him dangerous playing alongside grown men, as he was able to get to his shot as a north-south dodging midfielder and then ragged a loose ball out of a pile while former pro players were knocked aside. Some watching, including Division I coaches, were shocked to learn Rogers is a rising high school junior. At the Orange Crush event, Rogers scored three or four goals in the first few games, showing the ability to use his power to get to shots dodging from the wing or from X, and also soft hands to catch and finish opportunities on the crease or with time and room further out. His size is simply too much for more players in high school to handle.
Andrew Barclay, Midfield, Jamesville-DeWitt (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2017
Barclay is developing nicely as well rounded midfielder with good legs and good skills to go along with game sense, thanks to playing in a J-D program that has hummed along at each level for the better part of a decade. Barclay is an athletic righty who can get to groundballs and make smart plays. He showed that throughout the summer, starting at Orange Crush’s event. He can make plays in transition on the ride and turn that into opportunities. He’s another hard-working, blue collar midfielder who has emerged as the kind of player teams need to win. His eight goals and seven assists as a sophomore are misleading, as he was valuable in other ways.
Devin Lee, Goalie, Clinton (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2018
Be ready for this young netminder to burst onto the scene after a fantastic freshman season that saw him make double digit saves in 13 games, including a 25-save performance. The nimble Lee made a lot of terrific saves at the Orange Crush Showcase, including several that saw him fly across the crease to stuff would-be layups. On one in particular, the ball squirted across the crease and, just as an attackman went to easily golf it into the net, Lee flailed belly-first across the ground to make the stop. He made saves inside against guys on the doorstep, showing patience and quick hands. Lee went on later in the summer to put on a great showing at Lake Placid. This will be one of the elite netminders coming out of New York in the class of 2018.
Griffin Cook, Attack, Jamesville-DeWitt (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2018
At this point, Cook has been highlighted numerous times by 3d Rising. Still uncommitted at the moment, his showing at the Orange Crush Showcase was consistent with his other performances on the summer circuit. The gritty, talented waterbug of a right-hander was arguably the best 2018 at the camp. He played a great deal of time on the left side, though he’s a natural righty. One of his goals at the event came on a burst to the cage to get inside. He makes it all happen pretty quickly and he will finish the ball. It is amazing how he can go to his off hand and look just as dangerous.
Jake Morin, Midfield, Auburn (N.Y.)/Upstate Lacrosse Club, 2018
Morin had an outstanding showing at the Orange Crush event, and I know I wasn’t the only one who was impressed with him as I heard about him from coaches later in the summer. More can glide up the field. He can clear the ball by himself with ease, outrunning the ride and protecting the stick in a calm manner at full speed. Offensively, he used that speed and smooth carrying ability to burn down the alley to create shots. He scored on that dodge, but then really impressed by rolling back another time to his left and canning a left-handed shot 5-hole. He was a matchup challenge to say the least. Defensively, he created a number of turnovers by being able to smother a dodging midfielder with his ability to cover ground. He created one turnover by stripping the middie and then took it all the way down the field to assist on a goal, his second assist in transition in a just a few minutes. Morin is a talented player to watch coming out of Auburn.
Peter Fiorini, Midfield, Baldwinsville (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2018 - Syracuse
Syracuse looks pretty smart for taking Fiorini early. The long-legged, athletic Fiorini is an incredible player in between the lines, but has emerged this summer as a smart, unselfish midfielder who distributes the ball well on offense and makes a lot of things happen if he brings the ball into the box in transition. One thing that stood out at this event about Fiorini was his determination. He cleared the ball through a bunch of checks on one series and outhustled players to loose balls on numerous occasions. He is the epitome of a workhorse and he has showcased that all summer long. He was ever-present on the wing at the Orange Crush event and collected too many groundballs to count.
Robert LoBello, LSM/Defense, Marcellus (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2018
LoBello is a promising long-stick midfielder with a nice combination of fundamentals and stick skills, which results in his ability to make plays. He puts his stick on the hands and has a good stick on groundballs. He handles the ball well on the clear and makes good passes. LoBello is about 5-11 and 160 pounds. He’s shined numerous times this summer. With increased strength and speed, Lobello becomes a top LSM prospect coming out of Upstate New York.
Cole Peters, Midfield, Baldwinsville (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2018
Peters is one of the hardest working players I’ve seen in the 2018 class. He defies the odds by making hustle play after hustle play despite not being the biggest, nor the fastest kid. But his motor allows him to be involved in just about every facet of the game, from the middle of the field to offense to defense. He goes hard to the cage and through sheer effort can get to the rack. He will sell out on groundballs and sacrifice himself to come up with it. Peters just plays hard. He scored goals in a variety of ways at the Orange Crush Showcase, including one in transition and another on a catch and finish in set 6-on-6. He also scored on a wild behind-the-back shot. Playing defense, he makes hard first contact and just works to stay in front of the man. Peters brings a lot to the table and he has room to develop his strength. But for now, he gets it done playing among the 2018s by grinding. It’s been that way since I first saw him last year.
Jack Billitier, Attack, McQuaid Jesuit (N.Y.), 2018
Billitier really shined as a threat around the crease at the Orange Crush Showcase. He has quick, soft hands and he caught just about any pass that was thrown to him. Billitier showed he could catch and change directions quickly to get off a better shot. He threw a few jump shots into the mix, scoring on a couple of those. The ball was in his stick and into the net quickly. Billitier repeatedly was an open target for his teammates cutting from X to the front of the crease or the high crease. He did it over and over and got good looks. He racked up numerous goals in more than one game, just showing great sense around the cage. Billitier also moved the ball well to redirect things as defenses were breaking down: rather than shooting on one play from a low angle, and he had the entire defense clung to him, he just sent it across and up and over to a teammate for an easy stepdown shot. Expect a jump from Billitier in his sophomore campaign after notching 12 goals and three assists as a freshman at McQuaid Jesuit.
Eoghan Sweeney, FO/Midfield, Niskayuna (N.Y.)/Albany Power, 2018
Sweeney is a rugged, do-it-all midfielder who saw time as a freshman on the loaded New York State Class A championship-winning Niskayuna team. Sweeney takes draws and is skilled in that department, but shows more after his wins. He’s athletic and can carry and create. He plays tough and will scrap for the ball to no end, but he’s savvy enough to get it out quick and move it or use his good legs to get to space. He’s athletic enough to dodge into a defense and get a shot off. His offensive game will likely continue to develop, but right now he is literally all over the field and involved in everything happening in the middle of the field.
Derrek Madonna, Midfield, Liverpool (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2018
Madonna stood out at the Orange Crush event as an athletic playmaker on both sides of the ball and naturally in between the lines given his speed. Madonna is a righty and can shoot the ball hard. He was able to get his hands free up top with some time and room on a number of occasions. He led the clear on several plays and assisted on goals in transition. He sees the field well and will look to his teammates off the dodge, which he did in set offense at the event. You can see his athleticism when he starts to dodge.
James Morris, Defense, Vestal (N.Y.)/Upstate Lacrosse Club, 2018 Morris is a long, lean and nasty defender who really jumped out at this event. He created a number of caused turnovers with his aggressive, edgy play. He managed to keep his hips square to the ball carrier and throw disruptive slap checks. He didn’t give attackman a lot of breathing room and forced them to make very quick decisions with the ball or else he was all over their gloves and up around them if they stood still. Even some of the best players at the camp found themselves hung up by this guy. In addition to stripping the ball numerous times, he picked a pass out of the air and led the break to show his athleticism. Numerous coaches working with the teams called out Morris as having a great day at the Orange Crush Showcase. The 6-foot-1 defender should get a look from Division I college recruiters.
Landon Hovey, Attack, Regis Jesuit (Colo.)/3d Colorado, 2018
Hovey – whose father, Sam, played at St. Lawrence in Canton – made the swing through Syracuse for the tournament and filled up the net throughout the weekend. He’s a slick, small righty who can finish opportunities close to the cage. He scored on quick catches and finishes. He used a slick face dodge to get himself all alone in front. He bounced shots from just a couple yards away from the cage to completely frustrate goalies as the ball would kick high into the net. He scored cutting to the cage. He scored on a one-timer. Hovey is small but showed off some excellent skill and was very productive throughout the event making a bit of a guest appearance from the Rockies.
James Nash, Goalie, Balston Spa (N.Y.), 2018
I liked the moves this big man showed. He made a bunch of stops each time I saw him play. He was active in and out of the cage, always spinning off the pipe to hustle for the shot backup, one time winning the race to the dismay of an attackman. His good size – 6-foot, 170 pounds – helps him for a good shield to the net. He was loud when calling out to the defense. He made at least six saves in one game I watched and looked like a general of the defense. His consistent save numbers at the event told me he was seeing the ball.