Let’s start with the obvious part about theLegends National Cup held at Del Mar Polo Fields outside of San Diego. It’s downright amazing to be able to have a lacrosse tournament in mid-December and have it be 70 degrees outside. The first-year event brought together nearly 100 boys and girls teams and showcased an incredible amount of Western talent.
Legends Lacrosse has been thriving it in its first year, bringing more top-notch events to the landscape in places like California, New Jersey and Utah, and there’s little doubt that it’s going to continue in 2018 and beyond. It doesn’t hurt your chances of future success when you’re able to showcase many of the West Coast’s elite players. There’s always a heightened level of athleticism with Western prospects, something that won’t stop anytime soon.
With that in mind, here are the players who stood out the most at the first Legends National Cup. Also, San Diego is the best.
Tyler Buchner ‘21, M, The Bishop’s School (Calif.) / Dirty Dozen
I wouldn’t know, but it must be nice to be athletic enough to be a major Division I recruit in one sport. Buchner, though, is a big deal in both lacrosse and football. A Michigan lacrosse commit, the freshman has already collected a UCLA football offer as a quarterback. At Legends, he managed to stand out on a team loaded with upperclassmen thanks to his size (6-2, 200) and athleticism. He’s awfully tough to slow down once he gets moving, and he dodges well for a midfielder of his size. Buchner also has a heavy, powerful shot shot that he unleashed with regularity, including an impressive high bouncer early in the tournament. It’ll be interesting to see which sport he picks to play in college (many speculate that it will be football), but he’d be a cornerstone of a class in either one. As a side note, I’d like to extend my condolences to defensive midfielders who have to play Bishop’s this year. Between Buchner, RR No. 8 senior Isaiah Dawson (Harvard) and Chase LaDrido (Johns Hopkins), you’re probably in for a rough day.
Kellen Cutting ‘18, G, Poway (Calif.) / Dirty Dozen
Cutting came up big down the stretch to help Dirty Dozen secure the tournament title. He doesn’t really ever seem to get rattled, and he projects an aura of confidence in the cage. He backstopped Poway to championships as a freshman and sophomore and he’s an outstanding stopper. He could stand to refine his clears a little, but the Concordia-Irvine commit was extremely tough to beat low all tournament and came through with a handful of saves that he shouldn’t have been able to stop.
Ty Delaney ‘18, M, Brighton Academy (Ore.) / Brady’s Bunch
Delaney oozes athleticism and it’s awfully tough to stay in front of him, even though you know he’s trying to get his right hand. I liked him a lot this summer at Adrenaline’s Western Shootout, and he backed up that opinion by showing off tremendous shake and an ability to twist almost anyone into a pretzel because of it. In one game, he made four or five beautiful passes that should have been easy goals but were dropped. Delaney also showed a nice shot when able to get his feet set.
Nick DeMaio ‘18, A/M, Coronado (Calif.) / Team 12 Stars
If DeMaio wasn’t my favorite player at the event, he was no lower than No. 2. An attackman by trade, the Boston University commit did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted and however he wanted on an excellent Team 12 Stars team. In a hotly contested semifinal against Dirty Dozen, he dodged from the wing with a pole and hammered a top-shelf shot to tie it late. DeMaio gobbled up ground balls, took wings, played good defense and led the transition game. He was flat-out dominant. If he’s on your team, you love him. If he’s not, you definitely won’t like him.
Sam Handley ‘18, A, Jesuit (Ore.) / Dirty Dozen
A Penn commit and RR’s No. 35 senior, Handley was a man amongst boys. Attackmen as big as him don’t usually move as well as he does, and Handley was able to routinely get to his spot before uncorking a lefty bomb for a goal. He loves to come up the right alley and hit a turnaround blast, but he’s equally adept at finding cutters from X. I really liked his vision and ability to get teammates involved.
Kyle McCann ‘19, G, Palos Verdes (Calif.) / Factory HS Elite
A personal favorite of mine from this summer, McCann was excellent again in the cage. He was the biggest reason why Factory knocked off a strong SoCal Bulls squad in the semifinal, consistently coming up with clutch saves. He’s got an advanced mind that allows him to be in the right spot at the right time, and he tracks shots well when they leave the stick. Someone’s going to get a steal with this kid.
Nick Mostrom ‘19, FO/M, Shakopee (Minn.) / Frog Lacrosse
Mostrom basically did whatever he wanted at the face-off X, routinely getting extra possessions to help Frog reach the finals, but it was his play as a midfielder that also helped him stand out. He’d often win the face-off, dump it off and quickly change sticks on the fly, and he’s a more than capable middie. He battles hard when he’s at the X, never giving up on 50-50 balls, and his stick has noticeably improved.
Mitch Myers ‘19, FO/M, St. John Bosco (Calif.) / Team 12 Stars
The first impression Myers left was a good one. Isolated up top against a midfielder looking for a good matchup, the Bryant commit rocked his man back with a sturdy check that stunned his opponent. At the X, he was almost unbeatable and did a nice job of finding the point man on the break. Myers has a big body and can consistently overpower his matchup when he stays low.
Travis Peterson ‘19, A, St. Thomas More Collegiate (B.C.) / Northern Knights
As one of his coaches put it, “when he shoots overhand, it goes in. When he doesn’t, it, uh, doesn’t.” A big righty, Peterson can let it rip from the wing and places the ball well. I also really liked how he rode, and he’s got a good lacrosse IQ.
Reed Rissberger ‘18, LSM, West Linn (Ore.) / Dirty Dozen
Going up against Rissberger sounds like a terrible idea that you should avoid. The Utah commit isn’t afraid to guard guys out to the parking lot and he’s got a mean streak and an edge to him that the Utes will find endearing. None of his opponents will, though. He throws a lot of checks without being wild about it, and when he does throw them, you’ll hear them.
JJ Sillstrop ‘19, A, La Costa Canyon (Calif.) / SoCal Bulls
Sillstrop and DeMaio can battle it out for the prestigious title of being my favorite player from the event. Sillstrop might actually get the edge for rocking CCM hockey shoulder pads. The Denver commit, RR’s No. 17 junior, was absolutely lights out. Sillstrop has a seemingly never-ending bag of tricks and he scored in bunches in just about every way possible. He’s far from just a goal-scorer, though. The future Pioneer got his teammates involved with quick, precise passes, and he’s an absolutely perfect fit for Matt Brown’s offense at DU.
Carson Spooner ‘19, A, Tesoro (Calif.) / Team 12 Stars
Spooner doesn’t stand out immediately but watch him for a few minutes and he’ll pile up the little plays that continually add up. He relies on his quickness and shiftiness and defensemen can’t overcommit to him, unless they want to end up with a pair of broken ankles 10 yards behind the play. He’s got a good shot, dodges with his head up and made some smart passes that led to goals.
Chase Taylor ‘18, A, Hill School (Pa.) / SoCal Bulls
A tall, rangy X attackman, Taylor was an excellent No. 2 scoring option to Sillstrop. He was routinely getting his spot when coming out from behind the cage and he’s got a pretty accurate shot once he gets his hands free. The Army commit also finds his teammates with regularity, frequently opting for one more pass to set up a better chance. He also offers positional versatility by being able to play midfield, but his collegiate home is probably at attack.
Others Who Impressed at the Legends National Cup
Riley Bachinski ‘19, A, Prior Lake (Minn.) / Frog Lacrosse
Lake Baker ‘21, FO/M, Coronado (Nev.) / Vegas Starz Elite
Cole Clinton ‘20, FO/M, Palos Verdes (Calif.) / Factory HS Elite
Ben Dacey-Render ‘19, G, Shepherd Hill (Mass.) / Brady’s Bunch
Isaiah Dawson ‘18, M, The Bishop’s School (Calif.) / Dirty Dozen — Harvard
Nolan Katinic, 19, D, Okanagan Mission Secondary (B.C.) / Northern Knights
Chase LaDrido ‘20, M, The Bishop’s School (Calif.) / Dirty Dozen — Johns Hopkins
Neil Randall ‘19, D, Palos Verdes (Calif.) / Factory HS Elite
Jake Vance ‘18, Bountiful (Utah) / Utah LC