CLUB LACROSSE: Stampede storms past Napa for 2nd NorCal Championship in 3 years
The Gold Country Stampede took on the Napa Force in the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association’s varsity championship game this past Sunday at Patelco Sports Complex in Pleasanton.
It didn’t take the Stampede (17-1) long to take control of the game, grabbing a 13-2 halftime lead and rolling to a 20-4 final to earn the NCJLA title.
This display of dominance was the theme of the season as the Stampede trampled its opponents by an average of nine goals per game. The offense netted an average of 14 goals per game while the defense let up an average of just five goals per game.
This win marks the second time in three years Gold Country has taken the Northern California Club Title. Making the accomplishment even more impressive is the Stampede roster averages about 15 players and 10 are on the field at any one time.
“Offense wins games. Defense wins Championships,” said Stampede head coach Greg Porter.
This was never more true than on Sunday. Napa, who averaged 12 goals per game over the season, was smothered by the close cover defense of the Stampede. The unit was led by Junior defender Tyler Velasquez who played superbly Sunday and over the season, consistently shutting down the opposing teams best attack man.
“Tyler has made outstanding progress in his individual defensive play,” Porter said. “He exhibits his dominance with his individual coverage, but also plays as a cohesive team defender. I am very happy to have him returning next year to anchor this defense.”
Equally impressive in his improvements this season was first year varsity player and sophomore Jack Blair.
“Jack was pulled up from JV at the beginning of the season due to our lack of depth at the position,” Porter said. “It did not take long for him to earn a starting position and start shutting down varsity attack man. If he continues to work, he will be outstanding over the next several years.”
Also dominating on the defense was senior Keith Ward.
“Keith is a beast,” said Porter. “He is a big kid that moves well and throws hard checks. Not what an opposing player likes to see. He was consistent over the season and I believe could easily play at the collegiate level should he pursue that.”
In the cage, the Stampede was fortunate to have two outstanding goalies in senior Peyton McGovern and junior Ben Beeman. McGovern and Beeman split time in the cage this year and both wound up with a stellar save percentage of 68 percentage.
“Peyton was our second year returning goalie and has developed nicely,” Porter said. “He had a stellar Championship game with 10 saves and two goals against. Ben was an acquisition from Sierra Foothill who did not field a varsity (team) this year and was a great addition. They both had amazing seasons and it was such a luxury to have two very good goalies on the roster. It also helped that alumni and former Adams State Collegiate Goalie Alec Hamlin is on our staff as our goalie coach.”
Rounding out the strong defensive effort was senior Danny Grattan and junior Carsten Siebles both running Long Stick Midfield.
“The contributions by our LSMs was unbelievable,” Porter said. “Both Danny and Carsten consistently shut down the top midfielders on the opposing team and were also very valuable with ground balls and transition play.”
The Stampede offense was once again in high gear and on full display in the championship game. Leading the charge, as he has so many times in his five varsity seasons, was senior attack man Drew Heaps. Heaps scored seven goals and had two assists in the game. This resulted in a total of 89 goals and 29 assists for a total of 118 points on the season.
“I cannot say enough about Drew,” said Porter. “He has been with me so long I am not sure I can coach without him. He is an incredible talent and has dug us out of so many games in his 5 year tenure on varsity. He will be missed sorely and has the honor of being the leading point scorer in Stampede Varsity history.”
Next in the scoring barrage was junior Dylan Scott who scored four goals and had two assists. This led to his season tally of 28 goals and 53 assists.
“Dylan has made great strides this year, not just as a goal scorer, but in the broader context of team offense with his incredible 53 assists,” said Porter. “It will be great to have Dylan back on the squad next year as well.”
Tredan Maronic at mid field added two goals and seven assists in another display of offensive prowess. Tre scored 52 goals on the season and added 26 assists.
“Tre is an awesome athlete,” said Porter. “His Lacrosse skills, including shooting, improved greatly this year. He proves game in and out that he is the best athlete on the field. Fortunately, he is a sophomore and we will see him for a couple of more seasons.”
Toran Maronic added three goals and one assist to put his season scoring totals at 39 goals and 21 assists.
“This is a kid who suffered a traumatic brain injury less than 2 years ago and was not even supposed to live,” Porter said. “He is our miracle, and everyone who has had the pleasure to play with or know Toran is blessed. He has been a tremendous inspiration to me and I love him like a son. To have him on the field this year again, watching him play alongside his brother and coaching with his father Dave Maronic on the sideline, has made this the most special season in my coaching career. It will take an awful lot to top this season!”
Another key fixture in the team’s success this year was face off specialist and junior mid fielder Tanner Takahashi. He added three goals and one assist in the game, but also won 64 percent of the face off draws. This placed his season total at 26 goals and 11 assists, but even more outstanding was his 71 percent season total for face off wins.
“You cannot underestimate the power of possession” said Porter. “Winning the face off and having the ball means two very important things, first the opposing team cannot score, second we have the opportunity to score. Tanner was an integral part in our overall team success this year and we will benefit once again as he returns as a Senior next year.” Other contributors on offense were Michael Trujillo with a goal and both Grattan and Erik Lacrosse earned assists. Will Smith was also strong at mid field scooping up seven ground balls.
The Stampede finished its Northern California schedule with a record of 17-1 and the Northern California Championship. They carry the No. 1 ranking for the 2018 State of California Club Lacrosse season for the second time in 3 years.
“You can’t make this stuff up,” Porter said. “A short roster of 15 kids, the miraculous return of Toran Maronic, and a second Northern California Championship in the last 3 years. We have had incredible success at the Stampede and I am proud to be a part of it. I teach these kids that winning isn’t everything, but in these moments its pretty sweet just the same.”
Porter carries a record of 104-37 over his 10 years as the varsity head coach. He has brought the Stampede to the playoffs all but the first two seasons and now has two Northern California and one State Championship. As a former standout in Division I lacrosse at Adelphi University in Long Island, New York, he brings a tremendous amount of lacrosse knowledge and experience to the Stampede.
“I just want to honor and grow the game and give as much back to it as it gave to me in my life,” he said. “Lacrosse is an athlete’s dream, requiring speed, strength, agility, quickness and physicality. It is the fastest sport on two feet and the fastest growing high school sport in the nation. I am just proud to bring it to our community, and if the athletes keep coming out, I will teach them the game and we will be successful.”
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