Coming off a stellar winter tournament season, which resulted in three consecutive championships at 3D Oceanside Hustle, Adrenaline Challenge, and Sand Storm, SoCal Express 2022 Black was ready to take on competition from around the country at Denver Shootout, with more than 200 teams total competing.
Zack Zahr and Lucas Newton gave SoCal Express a strong start, winning most of their faceoffs. Attack John Culley, Luke Lemus and Tyler Matthews honed accuracy and power, finding the back of the net 28 times. Midfielders Matt Groeninger, Casey Copeland, Makai Todd, Radyn Badraun, Riley Chester, and Dante DeCollibus showed their speed and agility as they kept their opponents at bay on defense and kept the enemy guessing as they passed, fed and scored on offense.
The Express defensive front included Halen Goveia, Easton Jellerson, Caleb Richardson, Connor Guerrero, and Lincoln Dodd; they showed skilled sliding for a team their age. Several times they caught the opposition off guard as they stripped and cleared the ball easily. LSM Hayden Chester’s superior ground ball skills gained possession numerous times from the wing. Goalies Sebastien Chicas and Drew Tyson guarded the cage with only 10 goals aloud in four games leading up to the championship.
Saturday’s pool play began with a 6-3 victory over Iron Horse (TX). They executed their game plan in the next matchup, producing a strong 10-3 win over Next Level, a team hailing from D.C. and a feeder for the Landon School, renowned for producing collegiate lacrosse stars.
The third game of pool play proved to be a tight 4-2 triumph over Brady’s Bunch, which brings together players from all over the country.
Sweltering heat suddenly transformed into torrential downpour that halted all play Saturday afternoon, so players and families scampered to their cars to huddle for shelter. Once the clouds broke, the team was sent back to the fields for the first game of bracket play v. the Spidermonkeys (TX).
Skies, and the scoreboard, stayed sunny as SoCal Express pulled out the semifinal win against the Dallas Spidermonkeys 7-2, sending them to the championship game on Sunday vs. Bethesda LC (MD).
The competition vs. Bethesda LC 2022 in the championship was of a caliber these Cali boys had not faced in live action. Bethesda had dominated every opponent thus far and continued to execute with precision. It was a new challenge to put their best effort to the test and trust their coaches, as they allowed fewer goals than any of Bethesda’s other opponents over the tournament, but the team fell 1-10. It was the first loss for the SoCal Express Black in 21 games.
Players are holding their heads high for taking second place, a great achievement for this regional team at such a large, well-known event.
Next up for the team is The Riptide event in Del Mar, June 24-25.
Contributed by SoCal Express