Editor’s Note: Please welcome Peter Tumbas back to LAS! PT has been all over the place this year and has checked out a ton of events, many of them with a recruiting twist. Today he gives us a look at how the Blue Chip Nationals team prepared and played at the recent UPLax event where he embedded himself with the team.
Blue Chip Nationals began their second weekend with a practice at Loyola’s Ridley Athletic Complex. The Nationals are the brainchild of Ted Spencer, current Blue Chip 225 director and former head coach at Fairfield. Even though I had seen footage of the facility, the stadium itself was much bigger than I expected. How many club teams get to practice at a D1 stadium before their tournament?
I was very excited to see how a former D1 head coach would run a training session for high school athletes. Practice began with partner passing followed by 3v2 breakouts and a 5v4 build up drill.
The 3v2 breakout drill started with three offensive players running up from GLE as the goalie made an outlet pass to a pole who then redirected the ball to the opposite pole. The next pass was sent up to the offensive players who came back down on offense. This is a great drill to get a lot of touches prior to an unsettled situation. It is one I will definitely be using moving forward.
Parents in the stands made mention how much more comfortable the boys looked entering their second weekend of competition. The team is a collection of 2015 and 2016 California and Tri-State athletes. The California boys played together last year while the newcomers were pulled from the Blue Chip 225 camp all star games. Their first time playing together at a team was November 3rd at the Mid-Fall Classic at UMass where they won one game and tied two.
The poles looked very fast allowing them to remained glued to the attack’s hands. Recent UMass commit Ben Spencer, the coach’s son, stands out as the leader of the midfield thanks to his height at 6’4” and blistering shot. Both goalies are small but quick.
Following practice, a local deli dropped off sandwiches for the team. The team then departed Loyola for the short drive to Annapolis. The boys quickly showered and then took a brief walk to Navy Marine Corp Stadium for the Navy Hawaii football game. (Last weekend in Amherst, the team watched a UMass hockey game.) For dinner, the team had a choice of chicken or steak at Harry Browne’s. Most opted for the steak. Not a bad day for a high school lacrosse team.
Although the boys had spent some time together prior, it was interesting to watch the interactions between players from different parts of the country. I couldn’t tell who was from where or who knew each other prior to joining the team. Players from both parts of the country received equal razzing at dinner. In between courses, conversation shifted towards sharing hopes and anxieties about the recruiting process. The 2015s sensed that their D1 aspirations might come down to how they performed the next day.
The Sunday schedule pitted the Nationals against Gonzaga, Claremont (BC), and Penn Charter. With Coach Tillman, Coach Toomey, and several other coaches looking on, the Nationals struggled to win face offs against Gonzaga and dropped the game by several goals.
The game against Claremont provided a completely different test as is often the case when playing a Canadian squad. After the team watched Gonzaga dispatch Claremont, the boys were feeling pretty good about themselves going into the game. The scouting report was that the Claremont goalie wasn’t particularly skilled. Unfortunately for the Nationals, the majority of their first half shots were right at the Claremont goalies chest. Things came a bit unraveled in the second half thanks to the Canadians slick finishing and the Nationals dropped their second game.
The Nationals returned to the team tent for lunch, took a deep breath, and prepared for the final game of the fall against Penn Charter. On the way to the game, the boys were introduced to Syracuse legend Ric Beardsley, who was there to watch his Team United squads. Perhaps some of Ric’s confidence wore off on the boys, because the Nationals jumped on Penn Charter early and never looked back.
Best of luck to the boys from California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island moving with their college searches.
2016 attack Devin Spencer (Monte Vista, CA) lead the team in points with at least twelve. He tallied goals and assists in every game before registering a monster performance against Penn Charter with 2 and 4. Composure with ball in stick, eyes always up.
2015 attack Adrian Jefferies (Acalanes, CA) took a while to get going but the lefty finisher dialed up a hat trick against Penn Charter to end the day. Despite a smaller stature, the California product is willing to go into the high traffic areas and is much faster than the typical shoot first attackman.
2015 defenseman William Stabbert (Granite Bay, CA) is an animal. He’s tall, athletic, and most of all he’s mean. His technique is a little raw but when that gets dialed in he will be a shut down defender.
2015 LSM Chase Bunce (Bellarmine College Prep, CA) is perhaps undersized for an LSM, but he can absolutely fly and was seemingly everywhere. What he lacks in stature, he more than makes up for with his non stop motor.
2016 middie Gage Webb (Oak Ridge, CA) played a football game Saturday night and arrived in Annapolis early Sunday morning. Like the other boys, it took him a game or to get his legs under him. Small, but fast, he uncorked a shot against Penn Charter that raised all eye brows. Since UPLax, he has drawn interest from Loyola and UMass.
Adrian Jeffries – Attack 2015 Acalanes HS CA
Devin Spencer – Attack 2016 Monte Vista HS CA
Matt Ruhlig – Attack 2015 Avon Old Farms NY
Clay McCollum – Attack 2015 Pingry School NJ
Parker Whims – Midfield 2015 Bellarmine C.P. CA
Mike Dugan – Midfield 2015 Rye HS NY
Cooper Napoli – Midfield 2016 Avon Old Farms CT
Chad Housley – Midfield 2015 Monte Vista HS CA
Ben Spencer – Midfield 2015 Monte Vista HS CA
Gage Webb – Midfield 2016 Oak Ridge HS CA
James Firpo – Midfield 2015 Hackley School NY
Chase Bunce – Defense 2015 Bellarmine C.P. CA
Vinny Gladden – Defense 2015 Acalanes HS CA
Nate Usich – Defense 2015 Avon Old Farms CT
Bryan Connell – Defense 2015 Fairfield Prep CT
Will Stabbert – Defense 2015 Granite Bay HS CA
Sean Glover – Goalie 2014 Avon HS CT
Matt Andrews – Goalie 2015 La Salle Academy RI