submitteded by Jason Donville
The game of field lacrosse continues to evolve in Canada. As Inside lacrosse recently noted,the “Gold Rush” to recruit Canadian lacrosse players is well on its way and the number of Canadian men playing in the US could very well broach the 300 player level in 2012. This continued surge in the aggregate numbers of Canadians playing lacrosse in the US is the most obvious statistic that describes the changing face of Canadian lacrosse. However this “tidal wave of talent” is in itself evolving and there are really two components to this evolution that are worth noting. First, the expansion of the field game beyond Ontario and BC is producing some outstanding lacrosse talent in “under prospected” areas. Second, the development of players on the defensive side of center is significant as the depth at the defensemen and goalie positions in Canada is unprecedented. For US coaches who think they have missed the gold rush – look again. There is still plenty of undiscovered gold in the Canadian lacrosse world and the 2011 edition of Canada Rising is here to make that job a little easier.
Before we move on to the rankings it is worth noting that one of the great things about Canadian lacrosse is that once a year we bring together the top players in the country for head to head competition. This allows both fans and scouts to see which players can perform the best when challenged by the very toughest opposition that Canadian lacrosse has to offer. This year’s national field lacrosse championships in Burnaby, BC featured the largest number of teams since the tournament was changed from a club based tournament to a provincial format. It also featured two superb finals.
Team Ontario entered the 2011 National Tournament as reigning champions at both the U16 and U19 levels, although the margin of victory from the year before was a single goal in both cases. In 2011, Team BC was determined to finally wrestle away the respective cups from Ontario and put together two squads that were clearly capable of winning both championships. In the first championship final (U16) both teams battled hard with Team Ontario holding a slight lead for most of the game. However, BC slowly reeled in Team Ontario in the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter with the lead. Team Ontario fought back hard and threw a dozen shots at BC goalie Stuart Smith who was more than up to the challenge allowing, Team BC to win its first U16 championship in several years by a one goal margin.
The U19 final had a distinctively different feel than the U16 final. Team BC quickly went up 5-0 on Team Ontario before Team Ontario came roaring back. The game was tied 8-8 at halftime. The lead went back and forth in the third and fourth quarters, but clutch play by the Team Ontario midfield led by Kyle Jackson was enough to carry the day as Team Ontario hung on to a one goal margin of victory.
Besides two great finals, the Nationals once again showcased the next wave of the Canadian gold rush and no game better illustrated this point than the U19 round robin game between Team Ontario and Team Saskatchewan. On one side of the field stood Team Ontario, with most of its line-up already committed to Division I schools like Penn State, Cornell, Georgetown, Stony Brook, and North Carolina. On the other side of center stood a bunch of prairie kids with not a single NCAA Division I, II or III commit amongst them. On paper this game should have been a blowout. However, games like this are not played on paper and after one quarter Saskatchewan had the lead. At half time, Saskatchewan was still leading…it seems that someone forgot to tell these young men from Saskatoon that they didn’t have a chance against all of these NCAA bound kids from Ontario. After the third quarter, Saskatchewan was still winning and it was starting to look like one of the biggest upsets in recent Canadian field lacrosse memory. However, in the fourth quarter Ontario scored a couple of quick goals and somehow managed to claw back a 12-10 win. But don’t think for a second that Ontario was having a bad day. The lacrosse players from Saskatchewan were talented and well coached. Team Saskatchewan really was that good.
The other point worth noting from the Nationals was the evidence of the ongoing development of talent outside the area of the game that Canadians are renowned for, i.e. goal scoring. During this year’s nationals I had the privilege of watching the finals with a few recently graduated NCAA players from the Vancouver area and they noted that the biggest difference in the current edition of the Nationals is the play of the goalies and long poles. Many observers in Canada now consider players like Cornell long pole Jason Noble and Bellarmine goalie Dillon Ward not to be anomalies but the leading edge of the next Canadian gold rush.
Only time will tell.
About the Rankings
Rankings are not without controversy – the author of this article gets it. However, in the Canada Rising rankings a tremendous amount of effort has gone into the process of making these rankings as fair and objective as possible. In the preparation of this report, input was sought from leading coaches involved with the provincial U16 and U19 field lacrosse teams throughout Canada. To a lesser extent input has been sought from top Canadian and US prep school coaches and from coaches running elite travel teams in Canada. The support of these coaches has been greatly appreciated while the author of this article accepts all responsibility for any errors of accuracy or omission.
CANADA RISING – SENIOR RANKINGS (INCOMING CLASS OF 2012)
1. Warren Hill – Goalie – Six Nations/McMaster – Marquette – From Rochester to Diamond Head, Warren Hill has shown that he is a truly exceptional goalie. Scott Rodgers (the goalie coach at Marquette) has got a superb goalie to build his fledgling defensearound.
2. Kyle Jackson – Midfield – Sarnia/Hill Academy – Michigan – Jackson was the best midfielder at the 2011 National Field Championships and was arguably the key player in Team Ontario’s one goal victory over Team BC. Jackson has it all – speed, judgment, toughness, ambidexterity and character.
3. Cory Shires – Attack – Nanaimo/Claremont – Loyola – The best pure goal scorer in the senior class should have a fairly immediate and significant impact at Loyola once he gets into the rhythm of the field game.
4. Derek Searle – Defense – Hamilton – Cornell – Searle remains the top defenseman in this class. Searle is as strong as a bull, has great hands and judgment in transition and is an exceptional leader.
5. Challen Rogers – Midfield – Coquitlam – Uncommitted – Rogers has the size of a big man and the finesse of the very best goal scorers. Rogers has tremendous athleticism and can score using either his brains or his brawn.
6. Aaron Moroney – Defense – Oshawa/Millbrook – Towson – Moroney is a superb one-on-one defender and has great speed and vision in transition. Standing at 6’3” Moroney can match-up well with attack men of all sizes.
7. T.J. Sanders – Attack – Orillia/Millbrook – Penn State – Sanders is a tall, rangy attack who loves to play from X. He’s also one of those Canadian attacks who loves to ride and can be downright nasty about it.
8. Nathan Stewart – Defense – New Westminster – Uncommitted – Stewart is the best defenseman to come out of BC since Danny McDermott. He plays mainly close defense and is very adept at causing grief (and turnovers) on opposing attackmen.
9. Seth Oakes – Attack – Akwesasne/Salmon River – Uncommitted – Oakes is a gifted player and puts up huge numbers in every league he plays in. He will be an important part of the Iroquois Team at next year’s U19 Worlds in Finland.
10. Holden Cattoni – Midfield – Calgary – Johns Hopkins – A superb box player, Cattoni’s absence from this year’s Nationals was a disappointment to many.
11. Mike Morris – Attack – Oakville/Salisbury – Johns Hopkins
12. Jordan Cunningham – Midfield – Victoria/Claremont – Uncommitted
13. Korin Sunday – Defense – Akwesasne/Salmon River – Uncommitted
14. Brennan Donville – Goalie – Oakville/The Hill School – Cornell
15. Michael Messenger – Midfield – Langley – High Point
16. Nate White – Attack – Peterborough – Stony Brook
17. Ky Tarbell – Attack – Akwesasne/Salmon River – Uncommitted
18. Ty Albrecht –Midfield – Oakville/Millbrook – Cornell
19. Max Fredrickson – Attack – Victoria/Claremont – Lehigh
20. Ty Fleury – Defense – Edmonton/Hill Academy – Uncommitted
21. Austin Thorarinson – LSM – Saskatoon – Uncommitted
22. James Rahe – Midfielder – Langley – Uncommitted
23. Zack Herreweyers – Attack – London – Loyola
24. Kanattio Adams – LSM – Akwesasne/Salisbury – Cornell
25. Stu Martin – Defense – Six Nations – Uncommitted
26. Colin Bashford – Defense – Victoria – Uncommitted
27. Ryan Fournier – Midfield – Ottawa – Uncommitted
28. Steve Caswell – Attack – Saskatoon – Uncommitted
29. Max Fredrickson – Attack – Victoria/Claremont – Uncommitted
30. Jake Withers – Midfield – Peterborough – Uncommitted
31. Eric Kimmerly – Defense – Oshawa – Uncommitted
32. Ty Barrett – Goalie – New Westminster – Uncommitted
33. Dan Williams – Defense – Hamilton – Uncommitted
34. Blaine Boomer – Midfield – Kamloops – Uncommitted
35. Dan Lomas – Attack – Burlington – High Point
36. Josh Byrne – Attack – New Westminster – Uncommitted
37. Chris Kaspar – Midfield – Victoria – Uncommitted
38. Ian Mackay – Midfield – Port Elgin – Vermont
39. Robin Lowenburger – Defense – Port Coquitlam /Charles Best – Uncommitted
40. Raymond Banister – Defense – Okotoks/Hill Academy – Uncommitted
41. Davis Rekdayl – Attack – Red Deer – Uncommitted
42. Quinn Powless – Midfield – Six Nations – Uncommitted
43. Ty Kirkby – Attack – Burnaby – Uncommitted
44. Paddie Quinn – Midfield – Halifax/Halifax West HS – Uncommitted
45. Mike Fournier – Goalie – Orangeville – Uncommitted
46. Josh Oliver – Midfield – Markham/Vermont – Quinnipiac
47. Derek Mcleod – Defense – Victoria – Uncommitted
48. Drew Deans – Defense – Calgary – Uncommitted
49. Sam Martin – Midfield – Halifax/Citadel HS – Uncommitted
50. Will Glover – Midfield – Oakville/Hill Academy – Uncommitted
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