The OC Kings dominated the competition at Adrenaline’s Santa Barbara Tournament this past weekend, taking home three championships including a sweep of the two Elite divisions.
OC Kings Purple – ADRLN Elite Champions
Comprised of mostly rising seniors, the OC Kings Purple features some of the top players from Orange County . For many players Friday was the first time back against elite competition since May. The notion that talent alone cannot win games showed in a 8-6 loss to a very good Goon Elite Alpha team (Northern LA). Making adjustments and shaking the rust off, Kings Purple bounced back from that loss to win the rest of their games. In the championship game, the Kings faced Goon Alpha again and avenged their loss with a narrow 11-10 win to capture the coveted ADRLN Elite championship.
The bounce back was led by El Toro’s Parker Core. Core had a complete weekend including a dominating performance in the championship game . Looking just as impressive was Santa Margarita’s Nico Houser who looked stronger and faster than he did even a month ago at the end of the high school season. It’s clear that his leg is fully healed and is stronger than ever.
Foothill goalies Ryan Blank and Austin Mann were both impressive throughout the weekend. Blank, who was only able to play Friday, had a solid showing even in the loss to Goon. Mann, a rising sophomore, was bumped up from Kings Gold to help fill the void left by Blank on Saturday and played above his age level and meshed well with the older players. Foothill’s Matt Marano was constantly pushing the tempo from the close D position that resulted in three long-pole goals over the course of the weekend. Cole Campbell of Los Al was a late addition to the team but his physicality and presence had teams second guessing dodging with their attackmen. Chaz Dotson, back from a season at Trinity-Pawling (NY) looked like he had improved immensely from playing against the top East Coast talent during last season and was solid all weekend down low for the Kings.
Jonah Rinaldi, Jimmy Yanes, and Nate Marano were an attack line to be reckoned with. By Saturday they figured out how best to use Rinaldi’s quickness, Yanes’ awareness, and Marano’s finishing ability to launch the Kings to the ADRLN championship.
OC Kings Gold – STX Elite Champions
The Kings Elite Gold unit didn’t suffer from the time off like Kings Purple. The mostly 2015/2016 group went undefeated their division, clinching the STX Elite division with a convincing 10-5 win over San Diego favorite Lax Dawgs in the championship game. Kings Gold coach Adam Guy was very impressed with the boys’ ability to adjust on the fly, “We were a clear second half team all weekend. It was tough having not played much together and playing back to back games. The Kids responded to the coaching and made adjustments which shows a lot about these players and their ability to continue to develop as lacrosse players.”
When Austin Mann was called up to Kings Purple to fill the void left by Blank’s absence, Newport Harbor goalie John Jasper went full-time and made incredible acrobatic doorstop saves that kept Gold in the game at critical times. “There is no doubt we won games because of him and his ability to bounce back and make the next save, never letting a team go on a big run” said Guy of Jasper.
CJ Deal from Santa Margarita was a leader on defense all weekend. He showed a quickness that few defensement of his size have. El Toro defensement and long-stick middie Mason Leavitt led the team in ground balls and played well in each of his positions. As usual, JSerra’s Scotty Bargar was a nightmare for middies, beating them with his feet, taking the back the ball and pushing transition to create offense.
Foothill’s Sam Cron was stalwart at the faceoff X, keeping possession and giving Nathan Skeen opportunities to rip shots in transition. Skeen’s release was on point throughout the weekend, sinking two or three goals a game. Matt Karzak kept creating matchup problems for every team. Whether he was running out of the midfield or inverting, he was drawing doubles and making plays for his teammates. In the championship game, Guy inverted Karzak, sending him in through the midfield to generate goals three consecutive times. A number of goals on the weekend were courtesy of Zach Taylor of Santa Margarita who quickly became one of the Eagles best goal scorers during the regular season, finishing the year second in team points. Taylor picked up where he left off creating clean finishes from perfect cuts and disciplined change of elevation shots.
Guy was excited about his team’s opening campaign, “Overall, I am very happy with [the players] performance this weekend. The goal is to play at the highest level and give ourselves the best chance to win every game. This will naturally result into better looks for college coaches since each coach wants to see how these boys play with their teammates. They did a good job of playing together this weekend and it really helped them prepare for the Cal Lax and Colorado tournaments coming up.”
OC Kings U11 – U11 Champions
Congratulations to the OC Kings U-11 squad who defeated the Seattle Starz 12-8 in sunday’s U-11 championship game!
–MaxLaxOC staff report