By Dan Aburn
Gonzaga defeated D.C. area rivals Landon 4-3 in Madlax’s East Coast Team Invitational final on Sunday to become the tournament’s inaugural champions.
The tone for this game was set from the very beginning, with a player from each team sitting in the penalty box within 20 seconds of the first whistle. Known as a rivalry with plenty of bad blood in it (but plenty of mutual respect too), the game was physical, tense, and chippy.
Gonzaga junior goalie George Christopher had some clutch saves late in the game to preserve the win for the Purple Eagles, and was chosen by his coaches as the player of the game.
“Landon is one of our biggest rivals, we play them every year,” said Christopher, a verbal to Gonzaga alum Brendan Callahan’s Dartmouth Big Green. “It’s great to be able to play them and it’s even better when we win. Three goals – that’s pretty good for my defense. I didn’t really have to do anything, my defense really helped me out this game. They kept shots to a minimum, and whenever they did give up a shot I just tried to play my part.”
Timmy Monahan (Maryland), Sam Offutt (Virginia), Denis Whitcomb, and Teddy Myers (Furman) were the goal scorers for Gonzaga. For Landon, freshman Joey Epstein (Hopkins) had a goal and Ryan Pride (Virginia) had two.
The final brought a conclusion to a day filled with some exciting pool play contests and playoffs featuring some of the top schools in the DMV area.
Here are some players who impressed throughout the day, following up my report from Day 1’s individual showcase:
Timmy Monahan ’15, A, Gonzaga (D.C.) – Definitely a player that everybody wanted to see at the tournament, Monahan didn’t disappoint with a goal in the final and a few more throughout the day. A great dodger, feeder, and shooter, it’s really hard to find much of a flaw in Monahan’s game. The Maryland commit also has some slick craftiness in his game that turns heads.
Ryan Lamb ’15, M, Paul VI (Va.) – Possessing Unreal size and athleticism for a midfielder, Lamb was impressive in every game. Scored a few nice goals with hard outside shots in pool play, and just generally commands a presence on offense. Also playing at attack, Lamb recently signed with the University of Virginia.
Ryan Pride ’17, M, Landon (Md.) – Pride was one of Landon’s most effective offensive players throughout the day, and had two big goals in the final. The first was a corner snipe on the run after a feed, and the other an unassisted score from a dodge off the wing. Particularly good at slipping through bigger defenders, Pride looks like he can play from any position on offense and excel.
Shane Corcoran ’17, G, The Heights (Md.) – Corcoran followed up an impressive day one with a repeat performance on Sunday. Corcoran was simply standing on his head throughout the day for Showcase Team C, racking up save after save. The goalie certainly was a favorite of coaches throughout the weekend.
Joey Epstein ’18, A, Landon (Md.) – Considering how he played, it was hard to believe Epstein is a freshman. He had some great shooting ability on display, scoring on a lower corner rip in the final against Gonzaga. He also had an impressive unassisted goal in the semi-final win against Paul VI and his chemistry with older teammates would suggest that’s he’s going to be a contributor at Landon for a while.
Michael Borda ’15, D, Gonzaga (D.C.) – Chosen by his goalie as a primary reason Gonzaga only gave up three goals against Landon, Borda was great in the final. Great skills across the board but also looked to be a leader on defense, and will continue those tendencies at Michigan next fall.
Wade Shervin ’16, M, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (Va.) – A good athlete, Shervin impressed with his dodging and shooting on-the-run ability. A very solid midfielder with good speed.
Fitz Reese ’16, A, Madlax Nationals – Perhaps more of an off-ball finisher, Reese displayed plenty of offensive skill nonetheless throughout the day. A good shooter, he was particularly impressive in a win over a very talented St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes team, scoring three goals.
Jack Forrest ’16, A/M, Madlax Nationals
Drew Wiseman ’15, M, St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.)
Sam Jones ’16, G, St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.)
Tait Cattoni ’17, A, Showcase Team D
Nick Muscarella ’15, M, Churchill (Md.)
Derek Altobello ’15, M, Churchill (Md.)
Avery Myers ’16, M, Gonzaga (D.C.)
Jack Liebel ’16, D, Showcase Team C
Koko Avedisian ’15, A, Landon (Md.)
Andrew Fowler ’17, D, Landon (Md.)
Luke Kurtz ’15, M, Landon (Md.)
Andrew Gartska, M, Paul VI (Va.)
-Pool winners were A) Landon B) Paul VI C) Gonzaga and D) Madlax Nationals. Gonzaga defeated Madlax 6-2 in their semi-final, and Landon came back to defeat Paul VI 5-4.
-Calvert Hall won 2 of their 3 pool games and would have won their group if they had run out the clock while leading Paul VI in their first game. Instead, the Cardinals forced some offense and turned it over, leading to Paul VI tying and then eventually winning the game. JT Bugliosi (Ohio State) was particularly impressive for the Cardinals at attack.
-Paul VI was just stacked with some impressive athletes. Big, fast, and strong guys all over the field. Looking forward to seeing them this spring.
-Despite being a much smaller team numbers wise, Madlax Nationals really performed well. Caught up in a tight game versus St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes, Madlax exploded in the final minutes, scoring five unanswered goals to win the game 8-4 and become winners of Group D.
-One of the better games I saw was between Churchill and Paul VI. Churchill led 4-3 in a really physical game before Paul VI came back and won 6-4.
-The semifinal between Landon and Paul VI was another great game. Paul VI looked to have the game in their hands when Landon scored about three unanswered goals late in the game. The game winner was by Luke Kurtz in the last minute, after a deflected pass came right to him and gave him a one on one opportunity with the goalie.