YOUTH LACROSSE: Stampede wins state title, finishes 18-0
The Gold Country Stampede varsity lacrosse team completed its dream season Saturday, winning the State club title in a 19-5 victory over Southern California’s No. 1 team, St. John Bosco High School.
The Stampede, who recently clinched the Northern California Junior Lacrosse Association title with an 11-10 win over Oakland Tech, traveled to Rancho Cotate High School in Rohnert Park to face the Braves from St. John Bosco, putting their perfect 17-0 record on the line in hopes of claiming the state championship.
The Stampede showed up to play. Having not seen any of the Southern California teams during the regular season, the Stampede didn’t know exactly what to expect from the Braves. It did not take long to figure out that Gold Country meant business and proceeded to shred St. John Bosco with its transition play. Gold Country moved the ball up the field with precision, and found the open man, for seven unanswered goals to open the game.
The leading scorer in the game was junior midfielder Toran Maronic who scored seven goals and had two assists.
“They couldn’t cover him one-on-one,” Stampede head coach Greg Porter said. “They had no one near as athletic as Toran and he wheeled and dealed right through multiple slides.”
Sophomore Drew Heaps was found in transition and driving the right pipe for six goals and one assist.
“Drew is a beast,” Porter said. “He is the little engine that could. The kid is a ball of muscle with determination to get to the cage. They had no answer for him either.”
Senior midfielder and face off specialist Peter McDowell added three goals as well.
“I would have to say the biggest challenge of the day was not winning at the face off circle,” said Porter. “Peter, who has a season winning face off percentage of 75 percent, was put to the test by Bosco’s face off specialist. Turns out the Bosco face off kid is instructed regularly by one of the premier face off men in the country currently playing professional major league Lacrosse.”
Additional scoring was supplied by senior attackman Alex Abreu who had two goals and an assist. Senior midfielder Dannon Ivey added a goal and an assist, senior midfielder Jackson Sanders chipped in with an assist, Danny Gratton, a defensive specialist added an assist and Tre Maroni also added an assist.
The defensive charge was commanded by Goalie Kennan Beall, who had 17 saves and had a save percentage for the season exceeding 70 percent.
“Kennan has made exceptional strides this season working with coach Hamlin, an ex-Stampede goalkeeper who has returned to coach with us after a collegiate career in Colorado,” said Porter.
Defenders Steve Duhamel, Mitchell Nickerson and Keith Ward also stood out as the Stampede held the Braves to just five goals.
The State Championship Tournament recognized several standouts. The Defensive MVP was Beall. The offensive MVP was Heaps. The tournament MVP was Toran Maronic.
“We were honored at Gold Country to have these players recognized for their tremendous play,” Porter added.
This season concluded as the most successful in the Gold Country Stampedes varsity history. Assistant coaches Matt Montovan (former Stampede and collegiate player), Alec Hamlin, Ed Mortara, Scott Beall and Bruce McDowell are to be commended for their efforts this season. The thing that made this season exceptional is the Stampede consisted of a roster of only 14 players and played regularly against teams with twice their numbers.
“This game is end to end action, it is the fastest game on two feet, and endurance becomes a big factor in the third and fourth quarters,” Porter said. “Not having depth in our roster this year was a huge challenge, but it was an obstacle that we overcame regularly. I could not be prouder of these young men, the character they have displayed, and it has been an honor to lead them through this tremendous season and to share in their tremendous success. Few in numbers, big in heart never rang so true”.
Porter concluded, “I dedicate this season to Stampede co-founder Avery Blake who left us this past year, a four time Lacrosse All-American at Swarthmore College of Pennsylvania and a Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, but more importantly, my friend.”
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.