Players to Watch: Underclassmen

More and more lacrosse players in the L.A./Ventura area are earning their varsity stripes as freshmen, making preseason lists of underclassmen to watch grow longer and longer.

When MaxLax surveyed area coaches and combed through 2015 rosters, stats and all-league teams, we came up with 20 sophomores who contributed at high levels last year as freshmen. Pictured above are three who stood out: Faceoff specialist Matt Parham of Thousand Oaks, long-stick middie Cooper Isaacs of Agoura and attack Adam Julius of Oak Park.

Below is a list of underclassmen to watch this spring — including a couple of freshmen named by their coaches as potential varsity contributors. It’s one thing to make the team, but it’s another to make an impact. (Players are listed alphabetically.)

Sophomores

    Attack

  • Henry Hassenberg, Loyola: Scored 17 goals for the Cubs as a freshman.
  • Adam Julius, Oak Park: Set an Oak Park freshman record for goals with 23 and added five assists.
  • Seamus O’Brien, Oaks Christian: Started for the Lions last season; younger brother of former Westlake star Conor O’Brien, now playing at Cornell.
  • Wes Priestly, Loyola: Had six goals and six assists last spring.
  • Macchio Rissone, Palisades: Scored 68 goals for the Dolphins and was named City Section Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Paul Rodriguez, Harvard Westlake: Missed 15 games last year to injury and is on the mend currently from another injury but is expected to lead the Wolverines’ attack line when healthy.
  • Cort Rogers, Oaks Christian: Started last year alongside fellow freshman O’Brien.

Midfield

  • Matt Chopp, Sierra Canyon: Named second-team All-Gold Coast League last year.
  • Duke Cohen, Westlake: Scored 20 goals and had 12 assists for the Warriors.
  • Bryce Hardy, Oak Park: A two-way middie who spent a lot of time on defense last year, recording 19 ground balls.
  • Griffin James, Santa Monica: Named second-team All-Ocean League as a freshman.
  • Matt Parham, Thousand Oaks: An elite faceoff specialist, Parham earned second-team All-Marmonte League honors last year.
  • Connor Pierce, Crespi: Scored six goals as a freshman on a senior-dominated Celts roster.
  • Billy Segal, Newbury Park: Scored 12 goals as a freshman.
  • J.T. Shoop, Newbury Park: Scored 10 goals as a freshman.

Defense/Goalie

  • G JJ Barry, Palos Verdes: Has lightning-quick hands and is very athletic, Coach Jimmy Borell said. He will compete with senior Connor Jongewaard for playing time.
  • LSM Cooper Isaacs, Agoura: A versatile player, Isaacs started every game last year as Agoura’s top short-stick defensive middie and took turns at LSM. This year, he will cover the opponent’s biggest midfield scoring threat.
  • D Kyle McBride, Palos Verdes: Also a varsity basketball player, McBride excels in one-on-one defense. He committed to NCAA D-I St. John’s in January.
  • LSM Josh Park, Palos Verdes: Had 21 ground balls and scored 4 points playing behind Jarrett Jones.
  • LSM/D/M/A Griffin Rodas, Simi Valley: Another versatile athlete, Rodas played long-stick middie and both offensive middie and attack last year. He had 18 goals and 17 assists and was credited with 82 ground balls in 17 games — as a freshman.

Freshmen

    Attack

  • Tyler Bradbury, Oak Park: Coach Tarik Ergin said, “A bona fide starter on attack as a frosh. Tyler is the most polished freshman attackman I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching.”
  • Josh Maruyama, Mira Costa: The younger brother of Mustangs’ senior Tyler Maruyama, Josh “has the potential to play a key role; [he is a] very hardworking, no nonsense player,” Coach Aaron Karsh said.
  • Midfield

  • Max Manyak, Oak Park: A big freshman at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Manyak is described by Coach Ergin as a “great downhill dodger and shooter, as well as drawing [defenders] and moving the ball. Very intelligent on and off the field. Another true two-way middie.”
  • Hunter Ballard, Mira Costa: “Fantastic physical approach to the game,” Karsh said. “He will fit right in.”

Who did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below or on Twitter (@maxlaxla) and let us know.