Fall FLG in 3d Shootout 2015: Standouts
The Fall FLG in 3d Shootout was held the weekend before last, and 3d Rising was set up for its duration in New Castle, Delaware, taking in the action Saturday and Sunday at the Kirkwood Soccer Complex.
Teams from all over the country and even some from Canada traveled to face-off in the Mid-Atlantic this weekend, and the mix of teams competing on Day One at the Fall FLG in 3d Shootout was indeed mixed in terms of geography, with programs making the trip from Oregon, Colorado, Michigan and North Carolina, among other states, and players from Canada representing Ontario and Quebec. It gave us a chance to see some teams and players we'd not yet set eyes on this fall, including some players we got to see for the first time.
Below, we take a look at some (not all) of the players who stood out at this event. Keep in mind that we did not see all teams and are trying to highlight some of the players we got good reads on specifically at this event. Additionally, be sure to see some of the photos we shot over the course of the weekend. See our Saturday photo post and Sunday photo post to get caught up.
Ben French, Attack, IMG Academy (Fla.), 2016 – Vermont
French might have been the best player on hand for the FLG in 3d event. He racked up close to double-digit points in a number of games while essentially serving as the offensive catalyst for his team, operating down below GLE, working from X and roaming around the crease. The development of French is pretty incredible. His ability to get to the underneath is unreal. He showcased it with a goal that saw him drive up, pivot back, fake back the other way, and then use a lightning quick move to face-dodge back inside his man, but working with only a little angle, he faked and tucked the ball in the top right corner. It was gross. He’s got wider shoulders and a bigger frame than most attackmen, so the fact he can split that quickly back to the inside (his defender’s left) makes it hard to cover him. And he doesn’t need but just a foot or so of room to work with in order to bring the goalie down with a fake and then come up to shoot or just place the ball inside the pipe. He is a really, really polished player at this point in his scholastic career and it showed over the course of two very productive days at FLG in 3d. He worked so hard off ball that he wore out his defender and ended up with all sorts of easy opportunities. During one play, he completely lost his man, caught the ball in front, and as two players moved to cover him, he casually pumped the ball to the low left post to the open attackman camped out, barely even looking at the player and showing he just sees the field. In one game, he must have tallied close to nine or ten points, scoring and feeding in a variety of ways. He scored by driving up the wing, setting his feet, getting just a tad bit of separation and slicing a shot that was unexpected. Then he scored off a rebound, using his fast hands. He showed he could get underneath and, rather than just score from no angle, he could see the open man inside or across, and he whipped the ball through on a number of plays. He has just developed into such a tough cover that his teammates will benefit from the defensive breakdowns he will create and he is so smart of a player now that he will capitalize on the slightest opportunities. Off the catch, he is so dangerous as a threat to dodge or throw a pass that could very well set up a goal.
Mitchell Laffin, Attack, IMG Academy (Fla.), 2016
Laffin dazzled those on hand at FLG in 3d with his incredible inside finishing abilities, scoring a half dozen goals that had the crowd buzzing and helped IMG dominate its competition on the way to two straight days of undefeated play. Laffin has a low center of gravity and is very stocky, which helps him keep his balance against checks and especially when operating around the crease. He can catch just about any pass that’s thrown to him in the middle of a defense near the cage, even low passes, which he can take and redirect quickly with a hard, accurate snap of a shot, almost like he’s playing street hockey. He’s all wrists and all about sensing where he is with respect to the cage. In a big matchup with SweetLax, Laffin got himself inside, rolled, fell and still managed to score. After assisting on a goal a few minutes later, Laffin then caught the ball on the cease and buried a behind-the-back shot. He scored on numerous one-timers that were just gorgeous catch-finish, all-in-one motion displays of high-level stick skills and shooting. He shot between the legs, caught passes with one hand, took shots falling down. He was exciting to watch and should be a much bigger factor this year for IMG than the last. Laffin’s weekend at FLG in 3d should serve as a good warm up.
Aidan Olmstead, Attack, Corning (N.Y.)/SweetLax, 2017 – Loyola
Olmstead was arguably the best junior attackman competing at the event. A real challenge to cover out on the wing or initiating from X, Olmstead has a the ability to accelerate quickly without needing to change up his cradle or carry as he takes his first couple steps. He can just push the stick out and move very fast to the cage with his head up. Before the defender knows it, Olmstead can have a step. Because he gets the stick protected and can do it so fluidly while getting momentum, the first couple checks are sometimes pointless and just trying to stay with him looks like a better idea, and even that is a challenge. Meanwhile, even if he’s got to chuck it to one hand to start is dodge, Olmstead will end up with both hands on the stick and its at 90 degrees and ready to pass. He really sends the ball on a rope when he feeds, something we noticed way back when. At FLG in 3d, Olmstead looked aggressive by going at his man hard, even if he wasn’t really dodging to beat him. It lets him get into the defender and then make the defense focus on him when he’s looking to actually feed the ball. Off the ball, he is tough to deal with. In one game we saw, he scored but cutting directly through the middle from the left wing, catching and popping the top shelf with defenders struggling to get a stick on him. He scored a bit of a garbage goal on the crease, coming up with a loose ball and finishing easily. But it shows how quickly he reacts in those situations. The assist he had in the same game showed how accurately he can feed while protecting himself from checks. Against IMG, he showed the heat on his shot and his snap of a release from that ready-to-fire way he carries the ball. Olmstead led the way for SweetLax at FLG in 3d.
Matt Wiechers, Attack, Bluevale Collegiate Institute (Ont.)/3d Michigan, 2017
Wiechers proved himself to be a dangerous, nasty right-handed shooter who is relentless in all aspects of his game and possesses a great sense for making plays all over the field. It’s easy to categorize him as just a shooter, because he is indeed a skilled right-hander out on the wing or curling up to a better angle. He can put the ball in the corners and can put mustard on it. And he can deceive the defense and goalies by changing his release point and using deception, as well as his good height (over 6-foot tall) to give him a good lean over his defender and the ability to keep his arms up high to get a big release. But he’s a bit more than that as we saw him do more up beyond the box that indicates some athleticism and field sense, as well as the aggressiveness to make plays when the ball’s in the opposition’s stick. Even though he is pretty lanky, he showed good maneuvers with the ball, one time rolling off a defender to his right to bury a shot. Another time he caught an errant pass and quickly stuffed it inside the far post. We watched him smash the top shelf a few times in the last couple weeks. He made a nice play on the other side of the field, taking the ball away and clearing it back on his own and nearly helping his team score a goal on the same play. Wiechers plays hard and has shown us more in each game the last couple weekends.
Ryan Bergner, Attack/Midfield, Kent Denver (Colo.)/3d Colorado, 2018
Bergner had a great two-day run at the FLG in 3d event, showing his ability to play both up the center of the field in a midfield role and closer the cage as a go-to offensive initiator. His size and strength has improved over the last couple years and it’s noticeable, as that helps him dodge with more authority to the cage and keep his head up to look for his teammates. He continues to use his back well to protect his hands while dodging or posting up. He made plays on the other end of the field and turned those into offense, showing his increasing athleticism. He chased down an opposing player on one play to swat the ball loose with the trail check and then take it back himself the other way. He pumped a good feed on a break for an assist and would later score a goal himself, catching and pulling back for an overhand bounce shot. There was a stretch of time in one game when Bergner appeared to be anywhere the play was happening and it spoke to his ability to be much more of an impact player than just at the righty attack spot.
Ryan Nunes, Attack, Mountain Vista (Colo.)/3d Colorado, 2018
Nunes impressed at the FLG in 3d event as an attackman who does everything at full speed and generates plays through his relentless style. He literally moves all the time off the ball and is always looking to get open, so he’s a good target. His good hands allow him to finish some of those opportunities. In one game, he collected at least a goal and two assists in a short window of time. He catches the ball and immediately looks to make a move at his man or move it along, and if he’s going to dodge, he will go hard and change direction to make the defender honor him both ways. And he can pull up quickly to feed the ball, as we saw at the event. On the ride, Nunes sprints and tries to make things happen. He’s a skilled, hard-working player who is beginning to execute with more confidence on the field. He showed that toward the end of one of the games we watched, as he caught the ball, stepped into the defense and blasted a sidearm shot to score from outside.
Sean Donnelly, Attack, IMG Academy (Fla.)/Patriot Lacrosse, 2019
Donnelly jumped out immediately Sunday morning at FLG in 3d, showing off super soft hands and excellent shooting and finishing abilities inside and around the crease, in addition to having decent size already for a young attackman. He scored a flurry of goals in one game and in the process looked nearly impossible to hold in check because of his shooting and ability to get to that shot. It appeared he had similar success later on in the face of an even better team. In transition, he proved to be very dangerous, as he can move the ball rapidly and smoothly and he has shooting and finishing abilities that appear Canadian in some ways. In one game we saw, Donnelly scored a couple of goals in short time, one as he got room and a moment to run down at the cage and let it fly and then another as got near the cage and easily stuffed it in the net. His shots were either hard bouncers that goalies had trouble tracking or they were aimed at the top shelf. He tucked one of those under the cross bar as he drove to his right and got top side and showed his fluid release that gives him a lot of velocity on the shot. He added at least one assist in that game, showing a sense for moving the ball quickly when defenses were reacting to him. He has excellent stick skills and puts himself in excellent position to make plays. He would go on to make an impact the next weekend as well.
Davis Gillenwater, Attack, St. Christopher’s School (Va.)/3d Mid-Atlantic, 2019
Gillenwater came on throughout the weekend, shining as a skilled right-handed attackman who can create, feed, shoot and just make plays in general. He scored all kinds of goals in the two days, showing a dynamic skill set. He goes to the rack hard, and can feed off his dodges. He repeatedly found his teammates on the opposite or back side and passed the ball with velocity and accuracy to get it over there in time. He scored a bunch of goals in a couple of games we saw and was an offensive spark on each possession. Gillenwater scored on a righty overhand bounce shot from the wing. He scored on a right-handed step down shot further toward the middle of the field. He caught a feed inside with his left and scored while leaving his feet. He quickly makes plays, challenging his defender and showing the ability to pass and score. Gillenwater is very well rounded and showed that consistently across two days at FLG in 3d.
Cameron Badour, Midfield, IMG Academy (Fla.), 2017 - Duke
Playing with IMG in front of us for the first time, Badour showed well and in different ways than he has in the past simply because he looked more self-assured in his actions on the field. He’s physically more mature — bigger, taller, stronger, more intimidating from the midfield if you’re a high school-aged defender looking at this 6-foot-2 midfielder from Ottawa. He’s got big time power on his passes and shots and moves the ball like a hot potato by putting it on a dime. He is such a monstrous target out there. Badour already looks like he’s improved from playing around more high-level athletes and field players and we will track his progress throughout the spring as an Ascender. Playing against his club team, the Ottawa Capitals, he caught a pass inside and hammered it for a finish with a shot that no goalie was stopping with such little reaction time. Coming down the field, he unloaded a pass in transition that was an easy finish for one of his teammates and really hard to react to given the presence he has and the distance he can cover so quickly.
Robert Hudson, Midfield, IMG Academy (Fla.) – Vermont
Like some of his peer Ascenders midfielders, Hudson’s got such a unique combination of size and stick skills, which makes him one of the more dangerous midfielders on the turf anytime he’s playing. He appears to be particularly harmful to opposing defenses in the middle of the hash marks, where he is not afraid to cut and bang off of bodies to create chaos and then snag the ball and show his excellent finishing abilities. He makes a really nice target, as he can catch and shoot in traffic thanks to his soft hands and quick release. He still gets a lot of power on the shot even when he doesn’t have a lot of space in front of the goal to work with. Hudson can get himself there off his own dodges, too. He scored a beautiful goal against SweetLax, cutting into the middle, carefully receiving a pass while moving and then all in one compact motion ripped a low to high shot that hit the top right corner. In a later game, we watched Hudson lean into his defender with the stick in his left, draw the attention of the next man, then quickly face dodge right to the crease to beat both defenders, easily throw two fakes and score to make it look way too easy.
Colin Clothier, Midfield, Loyola BlakeField/FCA, 2017
Clothier showed himself to be a hard-nosed, smart and skilled midfielder who uses his toughness to create opportunities and uses his good stick and field sense to capitalize on them. Clothier put on a great show in a hard-fought game against 3d Michigan and collected a bunch of points in the process. His combination of athleticism and grit made him very tough to handle for defenders and he was able to fight his way to the cage numerous times or get himself freed up for a quality shot through a physical dodge, where he seemed to be creating as much contact as his defender was. He scored with ease driving down the right lane, pulling back and finding the net with little angle from close range. Clothier scored a beauty rolling back and forth directly out in front, coming back to his right to skip a bounce shot for a great finish. He then scored in transition as the defense tried to collapse on him. When he went to the cage, he made commotion because he could persevere through a double. He really used his shoulder, got low and got into his man to make covering him very tough, and with his skill, that meant he was creating a lot of chances for himself and his team. His shots that found the net came from different spots on the field, and he created each of those in different ways.
Hartley Jordan, St. Christopher School (Va.)/3d Mid-Atlantic, 2019
Jordan emerged over the course of the weekend as a talented midfielder who has a deceptively quick change of direction and a skill set that allows him to dodge effectively and release quality shots. But he also has a motor and makes hustle plays often enough to make it a pattern. He has a noticeable split dodge, which he would get to through quick twitch and then burst to the center of the field or down the outside of the lane. He can shoot the ball hard on the run and put a bunch of his attempts into the net over the two days at FLG in 3d. He made two passes to the crease in less than a couple minutes in one game, once feeding a perfect pass to a player on the high crease, then leading a break and zipping the ball right to another player’s stick with great accuracy while going at full speed. That’s what is also noticeable about him — he can run right through a groundball, keep his head up and push it to make a play right toff the bat, making him pretty exciting to watch at times. One of his goals saw him get contact off his defender, keep going down the right side and get off an overhand shot with velocity. He scored on a give-and-go, just playing offense at a high level for his age. He took one ground ball off the wing, leading to transition. The play didn’t unfold for his team, but they kept possession because Jordan grabbed the groundball.
Justin Tkachuk, Midfield/FO, South Carleton (Ont.)/Ottawa Capitals, 2017 - Hartford
Tkachuk is one of our 3d Rising Hard Hat winners at this event. The Hartford-bound midfielder is extremely dynamic in that he can take draws, battle in the middle of the field, play tough defense atop the box, spark transition, and he can be dangerous on offense as he’s skilled with the stick and determined, but patient when he dodges. For his Ottawa Capitals team, he’s in a position to need to do a great deal of the hard work in the middle of the field. He was excellent in helping put the ball on the ground and then move it up the field. He is tough and can fight his way through on the clear. Groundball battles often end with him coming up with it and running out of the pack. He’s got good speed, handles himself like a class act on the field and always seems to play like a team guy. His endurance is incredible, as he’s literally involved in the play for his club team seemingly 80 percent of each game. Tkachuk can go and go.
Michael Doxie, Midfield, SweetLax, Niskayuna (N.Y.)/SweetLax, 2017 - Boston
Doxie is another 3d Rising Hard Hat Award at this event. The small but gritty, relentless and skilled Silver Warriors product was one of the most consistently impactful of any midfielder we watched over the course of the weekend. He’s a magnet to ground balls, playing very low by nature but smart once he gets the ball to protect it and runs to safe paths as he clears. He can get through a pack of riding middies to get to safety. He is quick and played tough on-ball defense and very quickly capitalized on miscues like a bad exchange leading to a groundball. He can beat people to it and explode up the field. He is much more of an offensive threat than he’s let on the last year or so with SweetLax. He showed that at FLG in 3d, scoring on a hard alley dodge against the powerful IMG Academy squad. Doxie has tremendous upside as he will continue to play high level scholastic ball for the next two years at Niskayuna.
Brett Hobbs, Midfield, Salesianum (Del.)/Big Four, 2018
Hobbs brings great size and shooting power to the midfield, especially as a 2018 that looks like one of the bigger midfielders you’ll find with skill of this level. He can really shoot the ball and creates opportunities for himself via his size too, able to use his body to roll off defenders and get his hands free for a big wind up. We saw him score a number of goals throughout the weekend. We watched him take the ball in transition, accelerate and drive right down the center of the defense to score with a hard shot. When he gets going, he is a real challenge to stop. The big man also has a better stick than you first expect. You see it in the way he can use some fakes to get himself freed up while carrying. Off the ball, he makes for a great target inside and had a soft set of hands that allow him to catch and go into a smooth windup.
Max Rosa, West Genesee (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2019
Rosa was a player who collected points from the midfield for Orange Crush. Rosa won’t yet blow everyone away with foot speed or shot power just yet. But he plays his role from the midfield effectively as a player who can move the ball quickly and accurately and can get himself into good spots to shoot out in front. And he has great hands and redirected the ball like he was seeing plays develop and where a player would open up down low (this team really played offense well together). One of his goals seemed to surprise the defense, as he looked like he was hunting for a cutter and instead found one of the top corners. He is skilled and smart and was one of a few good looking offensive prospects for the Orange Crush competing at the FLG in 3d event.
John Danforth, Midfield, Skaneateles (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2019
We’ve seen Danforth play a bunch of times now and what separated this time from the other viewing was the Skaneateles native was showing us that he’s developing the ablity to quickly make a dodge and get himself moving down the lane, where his hard shot is a lot more effective than just coming from the top of the box. He has a cannon for a young player already, able to snap the shot and get velocity with both hands, as he showed at FLG in 3d.
Peyton Bogard, Defense, The Lovett School (Ga.)/SweetLax, 2017 - Maryland
Bogard was one of the most impressive defenders at the event, showing himself to be athletic in all facets of defensive play — aggressive out to the ball, but strong and controlled enough to not give up an easy dodge. He can run with the best of them at his position, able to swoop in to grab a groundball and then sprint up the field and show his speed. He’s gotten bigger and stronger and looks active on the interior. He made some acrobatic plays on the clear at FLG in 3d, spinning his way to safety on one attempt to show off his handle and footwork. In just a matter of a couple series, Bogard came up with three ground balls by beating everyone to it and then impressed with a slick backhand pass on another one of his clear attempts. He was the most noticeable on a very good SweetLax defense.
Antione Asselin, Defense, IMG Academy (Fla.), 2016
Asselin looked like one of the nastiest defenders on the field, but you needed to see him handle to ball and play in the open field to see that he’s a good athlete and not just someone who can get a ball carrier twisted up or land hard checks with his stick and body. Make no mistake, Asselin is a tough, scrappy prospect who stood out immediately when things got ugly on the field and their was a battle for the groundball. He is fast, clearly strong and built for physical play and he showed good touch while handling the ball coming up the field on the clear. He should be a strong force for the Ascenders in the spring.
Garrett White, Defense, Ann Arbor (Mich.)/Juiced Cherries, 2016 - Cleveland State
White showed well as a big, strong, physical and rangy defender, but one who was agile coming up the field and playing defense. He was clearly one of the most athletic players on the field when we were watching and proved that with several individual clearing efforts. He was a big presence for the Juiced Cherries team and made a number of plays himself to help put the ball on the turf. His reach makes him a windmill out front and his height allows him to keep his stick up through traffic. His toughness also helps there, as he will go through checks. He looks like a monster. He can overpower and overwhelm ball carriers with his size and ability to get the stick all over them. His good speed translates well to on-ball defense, as it will require fast, more explosive attackmen to test him. His touch on the handle helps him be a threat in transition. White is an excellent prospect for coach Dylan Sheridan as he’s getting the Cleveland State program off the ground.
Jared Hernandez, LSM, IMG Academy (Fla.), 2017 – Furman
Hernandez was another IMG defender who was simply all over the field and just played so tenaciously throughout the day. Wherever the ball was off the draw, Fernandez was there. He is fast, low to the ground and hard-nosed – a just an excellent combination of traits to go with his good skill and field awareness. He makes decisions quickly in transition and hustles to get off. Everything he does is at full speed, making him a factor on the field all the time. In a big matchup with SweetLax, Fernandez blew by people and through the gut of the opposing defense to score in transition. He’s an impressive athlete and capable of some big time plays. In the middle of the field, he is always noticeable.
Ian Genord, Defense, Birmingham (Mich.)/3d Michigan, 2017
Genord shined for the second consecutive weekend as a snaky, smooth and highly skilled defenseman who handles the long stick as well as any player we’ve seen in his class. It is routine on a clear for Genord to end up with the ball in his stick, fake out a riding attackman and then dip the stick and “walk the dog” up the field at a high speed. He can make second and third moves as well, which he showed in clearing scenarios. He has quick feet and can accelerate to get up the field. Defensively, his man is in for a challenge, because Genord can move side to side well. He’s able to stay with guys and keep his stick in their hands and shooting path thanks to his feet. In one game alone, he must have caused at least two turnovers and cleared the ball with a fake-and-dangle move at least three times. He can break up plays with his good awareness and the soft touch on the handle to snag the ball out of the air and he is sneaky off the ball because he clearly wants to get it and handle it. Again, he was just crisp coming up the field and carrying the ball or passing it in transition.
Simon May, Defense, Mountain Vista (Colo.)/3d Colorado, 2019
May shined at the FLG in 3d event, standing out as one of the most athletic, long and lean defenders that we’ve seen thus far in the 2019 class. But even with his 6-foot-3, still-thin frame, he moves really well, able to change direction coming up the field and continue to glide. Coming up the field, he looks like an upperclassmen already, showing speed, long legs and excellent control. Approaching the ball, he’s suffocating because he takes up a lot of space and doesn’t overcommit to one side. All he has to do is get up and into the face of a ball carrier and he’s an impediment to their progress. He’s so long that he can just barely extend himself to get way into the hands and arms of the ball carrier and they’re often times forced to move it along.
Zach Neufang, Defense, Liverpool (N.Y.)/Orange Crush, 2019
Neufang looks the part of a tough, physical but balanced and athletic defender who in his peer group stands out as a player who is hard to beat to the cage and can make plays with the ball on the ground and coming up the field. He is hard nosed, and sells out when the opportunity make a dramatic play presents itself. He doesn’t have high-end speed yet, but he is tough, has a god stick and has been seen making a bunch of plays against his 2019 peers the last couple of weeks. He made a variety of plays for the Orange Crush, using his body and his stick up in the lanes to amass several caused turnovers and ground balls. He handles the ball confidently.
Jake Stout, Goalie, Loyola Blakefield (Md.)/FCA Lacrosse, 2017 - Towson
Stout has been creating some buzz on the lacrosse trail the last couple weeks with his performance at the Big Four Fall Champions League and then at FLG in 3d. Stout has an athletic build and takes up good space in the cage with his approach. We watched him frustrate an opposing team with a series of good stops in tight when that team was generating high-percentage looks. Stout plays tough and can explode to the ball, as well as out of the cage. We saw him come out for a loose ball, snag it, and then cruise up the sideline and through some checks before passing it off to safety. He has faced some highly skilled shooters this fall in preparation for next spring with the Dons and he looks poised to perform well come next spring.
Jan Szczupak, Goalie, Loyola Academy (Ill.)/Team One Thunderbirds, 2017
Szczupak had an excellent showing at the FLG in 3d event, standing tall in the cage for the Chicago-based Team One Thunder. There was a lot to like about him physically — a tall, 6-foot-2, commander of a keeper who keeps his body big in the face of shooters, but can get low. He showed that in one game we caught, but also made some impressive saves high, including a blast from the wing right in front of us that we watched him eye the whole way. He moved well to harder to reach shots and made the net smaller with his ability to get to those corners. He was calm, but vocal and active physically, exploding out of the cage and winning the backup and also looking agile coming up the field. He shined throughout the weekend for Team One and is a very attractive prospect coming from the Mid-West.