Adrenaline Shines Spotlight on Faceoff Specialists With August Event

Ryan Harnisch, Philip Thompson
Ryan Hanisch of St. Margaret's (left) and Philip Thompson of Harvard Westlake were the focal point of the section title game.

The U.S. Lacrosse Southern Section championship game — and the L.A. bracket final before it — featured some excellent, young face off guys in sophomore Ryan Harnisch of St. Margaret’s, freshman Philip Thompson of Harvard Westlake and freshman Rizal Smith of Palos Verdes.

It was great to see such an important position manned so well by such young players, a sign to me that kids are recognizing the value of being able to win possession for your team and are committing to practicing the finer points of that specialty.

Rizal Smith, Palos Verdes
Rizal Smith (left) of Palos Verdes is one of a handful of excellent, young faceoff specialists.

I was reminded of those three when I received an email Wednesday announcing the 2013 Adrenaline Faceoff Challenge, to be held Sunday, Aug. 25, at Aliso Niguel HS in Orange County. While it sounds like a competition, the fine print explains that it’s also about instruction:

This one-day event will consist of face off instruction and drilling in the morning session followed by a winner-take-all face off competition! Trophies and prizes will be awarded for the winners in each age division.

Open to boys in grades 7-12, the event costs $150 per player with registration available via the Adrenaline link above.

Not sure about facing off? Consider this: Harvard Westlake led St. Margaret’s 5-2 at halftime of the section title game, with Thompson winning faceoffs and allowing the Wolverines to hold possession. In the second half, though, Harnisch found his mojo, and the Tartans took over, eventually winning 15-8. Harnisch, by the way, has committed to play at Division I Denver — after two more years of dominating the faceoff dot around here.

And finally, consider Duke, which beat Syracuse 16-10 to win the NCAA championship last May after falling behind 5-0 in the first quarter. The reason? After some early jitters, junior faceoff specialist Brendan Fowler dominated the dot, and Syracuse managed only 14 shots on goal in the final three quarters. For the game, Fowler won 20 of 28 faceoffs and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Oh, and he wasn’t recruited to Duke for lacrosse. He’s a linebacker on the football team who moonlights as a lacrosse player — one with a very valuable specialty.

Take a look at these young guys. Here is Harnisch’s highlight video:

And here’s Thompson:

I couldn’t find a highlight video for Smith but would be happy to add it if someone could point me in the right direction.