Press Release– Coach Paddy Chester and SoCal Express 2019 have back to back championships now for their summer tour. Earlier this month, the team took 1st at The Battle of LA in San Pedro, CA. Chester and the team had college coaches turning their heads west by taking the throne at the King of the Hill 2017, from June 19-21, at McDaniel College in Maryland. This win is a huge accomplishment by a West Coast team who faced tough East Coast competition.
“We had set a goal for ourselves to win this tournament,” said Chester. “That was achieved by hard work, team buy-in, and commitment from the players.”
The team started out pool play with a tough loss in braveheart to The Episcopal Academy (Penn.) in their first game on Monday night. That game was highlighted by scoring from Sean Waterman, Destry Burton, Mason Toll, Tomas Anderson and Trent Shimizu.
The 2019s would battle back, winning all three games on day two. The key to their second day success was FOGO specialist Stuart Pollard, who muscled to win possession throughout the tournament, winning about 65% at the X.
In their second game against the PA Roughriders 2019 Elite (Penn.), regulation ended at a 5-5 tie, sending it into overtime. During overtime play, long-pole Jason Garrett picked off a pass from his opponent, and passed it downfield to Koa Todd, who found the net for the big win. The game featured scoring by Todd (3 g, 1 a), Waterman (2 g), Riley Ahern (1 g), and Liam Nelson (1 a).
Matching up against Burning River Lacrosse (Ohio) for the third game of pool play, the team topped their competition with a score of 7-4. Waterman’s highlight reel will include a nice BTB from this game. Scoring was handled by Waterman (2 g), Burton (2 g, 2 a), Todd (1 g, 1 a), Ryan You (1 g), Tomas Anderson (1 g), and Duke Ballard (1 a). Great clears from goalie Zane Handy, LSMs Toll and Duke Ballard, and defenders Kenan Ressler and Garrett also proved highlights. Defensive middie Jake Brannon caused multiple turnovers and hustled for ground balls.
In the semifinals of bracket play, SoCal Express would avenge their loss against The Episcopal Academy. Redemption was sweet, with the score ending 8-1 in an overall amazing team effort by all players. Pollard showed his skills at faceoff against a Penn State commit from Episcopal. The MVPs proved to be defensive players Garrett, Ressler, Toll, Ballard, Sigal, and Shepard, who battled to minimize Episcopal’s offensive efforts. The stingy defense was aided by ninja-like saves by goalies Eugene Kang and Zane Handy.
The game started off with a quick pass by Todd (1 g, 2 a) to Waterman (2 g) for a score to set the tone early. Another Todd assist to Anderson and it was 2-1, followed by a quick goal by Drake Choi (2 g), assisted by Jack Allender (2 a), to put the score at 3-1. Defense by Toll and Ressler was tight, holding them on man down many times. Choi hit the back of the net again with an assist by Shimizu (1 a). Alexander Lanham took a great carry up the field to Allender, who made a quick pass Waterman for another goal, ending the first half 5-1. Adding to the scoring was Anderson (1 g), You (1 g), and Stephen Deck (1 a).
Coming into the Championship game on Wednesday morning, the SoCal Express was down early 1-3 against True MN (Minn.) and had to fight back up the hill. Handy had amazing saves in the first half, which ended tied at 3-3. Unassisted goals by Ahern (1 g, 1 a), Shimizu (1 g) and Allender (2 g), highlighted the scoring with an assist by Burton (1 a).
The second half started with a quick unassisted goal by Todd (2 g) to take the lead 4-3. Pollard was on point with FO victories each time. SoCal seemed to gain momentum with an unassisted goal by Nelson (1 g) to make it 5-3. Team effort stayed strong, with great saves by Kang and defense by Toll, Ressler, and Garrett proving key. You (1 g, 1 a) scored off an Ahern pass to keep up the momentum. More saves by Kang led to another quick goal by Allender.
True MN would not give up as the game wore on, and pulled closer to make it 8-5, then two more quickly to pull within one, at 8-7. But the defense held strong, with multiple Kang saves to end the game. The West Coast boys won the event with class and camaraderie, showing they could hold their own on the East Coast. Next up, the team looks to continue their championship run at Crab Feast, June 24-25, in Maryland.
Garrett and Todd were selected to the King of the Hill 2018/2019 All-Star Team.
Contributed by So Cal Express.