Perennially the West Coast’s biggest weekend of lacrosse all year, the Adrenaline Challenge (circa ’02) once again took place in beautiful Del Mar, welcoming hundreds of players of both genders to the San Diego area. It’s a special event that really summarizes the fervor for the game out West, as the venue was chock full of vendors, fans, and competitive games across well over a dozen fields.
Beginning with Friday’s Winter Showcase at SDSU, it was an awesome weekend across the board, as I had Rob Horn with me to help out with evaluations. Rob (follow him on Twitter here) has been a close friend of mine for years and is a prominent part of the coaching scene in Minnesota. We focused almost entirely on the Elite division (mostly 2019’s and 2018’s), and this was a great opportunity to watch the loaded senior class for what was likely the last time before this summer’s All-Star Games following their graduation.
Feel pretty confident saying that the 2018’s are the best group to ever come out of the West. A lot of fun watching the seniors this weekend at the @AdrenalineLax Challenge.
— Ty Xanders (@tyxanders) January 8, 2018
Below you’ll find the marquee players that stood out in game play all weekend and Sunday’s 2018/2019 uncommitted All-Star Games, as well as a honorable mention section.
Griffin Rodas ’18, LSM, LA Heat / Village Christian (Calif.)
I was blown away upon hearing that Rodas is actually a midfielder, as he looked like an absolute natural flying all over the field with a longpole in tow. Committed to play for back-to-back MCLA champ Grand Canyon University, Rodas is a gritty athlete who created so many scoring opportunities. During the time that we saw him, he must have had half of a dozen assists or hockey assists while hitting the point man, even slinging a top corner beauty of his own.
Drew Erickson ’18, A, ADVNC Team French / San Ramon Valley (Calif.)
Many coaches I talked to this weekend tabbed Erickson as the best pure shooter at the event. Erickson’s ability to get his hands free and finish the ball with a variety of release points kept goalies guessing all throughout the weekend. Constantly attacking the cage with his head up, you could see him scan the field, but at the same time looking for just the slightest opening to release that left hand on an unsuspecting goalies. His ability to get the ball out of his stick in an instant must have Matt Brown and Bill Tierney salivating to get the No. 50 senior commit on campus in the fall.
Alex Slusher ’19, A, 3d Oregon / Oregon Episcopal (Ore.)
This do-it all attackman headed to Princeton was a true treat to watch. Ranked 12th in his class, Slusher was relentless in attacking the goal from X, high wings and high corners. He was extremely successful initiating with contact and getting to the middle of the field with his hands free, all while setting the table for his teammates. The biggest addition to his game is likely his vision. Where most opportunities for his team started with the ball in his stick, Slusher would attack the defense, almost immediately draw the slide, make the right look through the defense and distribute the ball for easy step-down shots or finishes.
Kevin Sobey ’19, M, Seattle Starz / Pacific Academy (B.C.)
One of the top goalkeepers that we saw, Sobey was extremely consistent in the goal, making numerous highlight level saves in 1-on-1 situations. Throughout the weekend, shooters learned that testing him with time and room shots was ill-advised as he made each save calmly before starting the possession back the other way. He hit quick outlets in the clearing game when transition opportunities were present, controlling the clear in more settled situations with helping direct personal and communicating effectively. An All-Star, the uncommitted Sobey portrayed the polish and poise that you see with many other D1 goalie prospects.
Quinn Marquez ’19, M, Alcatraz Outlaws / San Ramon Valley (Calif.)
This was one of my first evaluations of the Denver commit, and I came away more than impressed with the consistency of the high IQ, two-way midfielder. He’s a big kid who always has his head up looking for cutters while demonstrating shake and protecting his stick to completely avoid turnovers. Marquez didn’t force anything and always made the right play, making me think that he’ll be the perfect fit for the Pioneers.
Quentin Buchman ’18, M, SoCal Express / Santa Margarita Catholic (Calif.)
The nation’s No. 4 player and Notre Dame signee was outstanding, as teams quickly learned of what he was capable of but simply could not slow him down. Creating a great deal of burst out of his dodge, he rolls back to his strong hand so seamlessly and was just a terror for defenses to try and stop. I’m impressed with Buchman’s hands, as the Orange County native is always locked and loaded ready to shoot, even making his near misses look pretty. It will be enjoyable to watch this kid, who flipped from Boston University in the fall, against the athletic defenses of the ACC.
Miles Botkiss ’20, A, RC / Torrey Pines (Calif.)
Botkiss appears to be the next attackman up and off the line in the Torrey Pines machine. I had little insight into his game when initially watching the RC Elite team, but he quickly stood out with his knack for making plays all over the offensive end. He was aggressive in the riding game and challenging defenders for 50/50 ground balls for second chance possessions. Constantly looking to find a crack in the defense, Botkiss would explode through tight areas, finding his way to the front of the goal for in tight finishes or looking back door for teammates for easy layups. He showcased his ability to shoot from the outside as well, sticking a couple nice perimeter shots during the playoffs on Sunday, including the OT goal over the Seattle Starz. Botkiss possesses a great understanding of the game, and as he continues to develop and add size, I’d expect him to be a player to watch during the summer circuit.
Brody LaPorte ’18, LSM, Menlo (Calif.) / ADVNC Team French
The Villanova commit was everywhere this weekend. Playing with controlled aggression with great on-ball approaches, he might have led the event in forced turnovers if such a stat was taken. LaPorte threw a variety of checks, even landing a couple over-the-head takeaways while running stride for stride down the sidelines with opponents. Quick off the ground, he was able to start transition immediately, displaying a high-level IQ in those breaks as a trailer or cutter. Even finishing a couple goals on the weekend, the NorCal product was an Under Armour participant last summer and will fare well in the Wildcats’ system for years to come.
Evan Egan ’18, D, RC / Torrey Pines (Calif.)
Ryan Ramirez ’18, M, RC / Torrey Pines (Calif.)
Locking things down at close D and SSDM, respectively, this pair of Adrenaline All-Americans likely went the whole weekend without getting beat on the way to RC’s championship win. Egan, a five-star UNC signee, was often dominant in covering his assignment. His leadership qualities and 1-on-1 defending helped him shut down a number of the event’s top attackmen while Ramirez did similar work up top. Headed to Bryant, he won’t blow anybody away physically but has excellent foot speed and stamina. The more I watched him this weekend, the more I realized that it eventually got to the point that he was just as effective as a longstick, moving much bigger offensive weapons off of their line.
Sam Dracobly ’18, M, Seattle Starz / O’Dea (Wash.)
The Navy commit was outstanding all weekend long. Sam’s game has really grown over the past few months, and his first step leaves no question to what everybody saw in this commit. He created offense in a variety of ways and seldom found a pole or shorty that could keep up with his ability to gain separation. Many opponents knew what was coming, but adding the ability to attack the goal with both hands at full speed proved to be too much. He showcased a smooth release on the run, and the patience to re-dodge and attack the middle of the field when the situation called for it.
Cole French ’18, M, ADVNC Team French / San Ramon Valley (Calif.)
The steady Denver commit was the backbone of the ADVNC Team French squad during the event. Playing with purpose on a team named after his late father, Todd, the youngest French consistently came up with big save after big save against the best competition on the way to a championship game appearance. Not only did he play great angles in the goal, French was just as impressive helping his defense by communicating and positioning them effectively all weekend. This is the best that we’ve seen him play and he will almost certainly push for playing time once he arrives on campus.
JT Shoop ’18, A, LA Heat / Newbury Park (Calif.)
Topher Bligh ’19, A/M, Alcatraz Outlaws / St. Ignatius (Calif.) – Brown
Carson Spooner ’19, A, 3d San Diego / Tesoro (Calif.)
Mark Stephens ’19, M, Alcatraz Outlaws / St. Ignatius (Calif.) – Harvard
James Steinke ’19, A, DoCo Red / Castle View (Colo.)
Trent Pernell ’18, M, Vegas Starz / Palo Verde (Nev.) – Colorado Mesa
Andrew Bell ’19, D, SD United Black / Coronado (Calif.)
Sean Mahoney ’18, M, ADVNC / Archbishop Mitty (Calif.) – Utah
Shayne Grant ’18, M, RC / Torrey Pines (Calif.) – Richmond
Tyler Marsh ’18, M, Vegas Starz / Palo Verde (Nev.)
Benjamin Luke ’19, A, Seattle Starz / O’Dea (Wash.)
Cathal Roberts ’18, D, ADVNC Team French / San Ramon Valley (Calif.) – Princeton
Tyler Marsh ’18, M, Vegas Starz / Palo Verde (Nev.)
Jackson McGinley ’19, D, 3d Oregon (Ore.) / Lakeridge (Ore.)
Sam Parkinson ’19, M, Alcatraz Outlaws / St. Ignatius (Calif.)
JJ Barry ’18, G, LA Heat / Palos Verdes (Calif.) – Colorado Mesa
Ben Piedimonte ’19, D, Alcatraz Outlaws / Redwood (Calif.)
Matt Chopp ’18, M, LA Heat / Sierra Canyon (Calif.) – St. John’s
All-Star Game Standouts
Connor Cheatham ’19, A, 3d Texas
Ben Mansur ’19, D, True Minnesota
Ryan Sigal ’19, D, SoCal Express
Brian Little ’19, M, 3d NorCal
Alex Coco ’19, M, MadLax Oregon
Luke Mikolajewski ’19, M, RC Carolina