Foul weather, scrambled game schedules and travel back to Cali kept me from this post over the last few days, but I wanted to make sure to share impressions of Team America’s championship-bracket play from Friday and Saturday before we forget all about Champ Camp 2012.
Team America is based out of Newport Beach’s Corona del Mar HS and made up mostly of Sea Kings players (see rosters at bottom of this post). This year, the roster also included players from nearby Newport Harbor HS and San Fernando Valley schools Chaminade College Prep and Granada Hills Charter, as well as three players who met the team in Baltimore — two from Charlotte, N.C., and one from Loudoun County, Va. Team America 2, a roster of younger players, also competed in Baltimore (more below).
GW Mix, CdM head coach, put the rosters together before heading to Baltimore early to help run Champ Camp, which he co-founded in 1990. TA 1 was coached by Ryan Mix, GW’s son and a CdM alum and rising junior at Notre Dame, and Jeremy Sieverts of the MLL’s Denver Outlaws. TA2 was coached by CdM JV coach Andy Chalupa.
After winning its pool with a 3-0 record (and one game cancelled by lightning), Team America suffered its first loss of the tournament Friday morning to Team 24, based out of Carthage, N.Y. Carthage is alma mater to the Powell brothers — Casey, Ryan and Mikey — as well as a number of other players who went on to college and professional success, including Chaminade coach Jared Little.
Carthage also is coached by Kirk Ventiquattro, for whom the club is named. The roster featured players from Carthage HS and league-rival Watertown HS, as well as players from Connecticut and a solid goalie from Florida (wild guess: his connection to the team had something to do with Casey Powell, who coaches at St. Andrew’s School in Boca Raton, Fla.). In other words, Team 24 was bound to be good, and it was.
Team 24 lost once in pool play, then won three in a row in the championship bracket before falling to eventual tournament champion Dukes in the semifinals Saturday morning. The first of those three wins in a row came against Team America, 8-7 in overtime after Team America had erased a 6-1 deficit. TA actually had possession in the final minute with a chance to win, but had a shot on goal saved, then held on for OT when goalie Michael Ortlieb, a CdM grad headed to Holy Cross, saved two shots in the final 30 seconds.
The loss was disappointing, to be sure. But for me, a lax dad still trying to figure out just how good West Coast players are compared to their counterparts from the East, the context of it made the result pretty remarkable. Team America had stood toe-to-toe with a team coached by a Hall of Famer and hailing from one of the hottest of lacrosse hotbeds and came within a skip pass and a bouncer of winning. Last year, Team America won its group and its first winner’s bracket game before finally losing. Does that say something about SoCal lacrosse? Or just about Corona del Mar? We might not know until another club from around here enters this kind of tournament back East.
To say the loss loosened up the Team America boys would be an understatement. Knocked out of contention, TA coasted past a young Atlanta Coyotes squad 9-5, then spotted Red & Black Elite (Hunterdon Central HS, Flemington, N.J.) an early lead before rallying to win 7-5.
Saturday, Team America finished up with a morning game in the pouring rain on a girls field — no restraining lines, no space behind the goal — against Long Island I, made up of players from Suffolk County, L.I. The result was predictable — an 11-3 win for Long Island — as it was clear the Team America boys were ready to head home.
When all was said and done, Team America had posted a 5-2 record against teams from upstate New York, Long Island, New Jersey and two non-traditional areas in Georgia and Indiana — more than respectable.
Because of the schedule and the field locations around the Baltimore area, I wasn’t able to see Team America 2, primarily made up of incoming freshmen (11) and rising sophomores (7) from Corona del Mar, Newport Harbor, San Clemente, Orange Lutheran, Esperanza, Chaminade, Oaks Christian and Newbury Park. TA2 went 1-6 at Champ Camp, beating only Pittsburgh 2013 Elite — presumably a team of rising seniors — but dropping close games to Ridgewood 2 (N.J.) and Excell Lacrosse (South Carolina) 5-1.
Two other West Coast teams also made an impression at Champ Camp this year. Fog City, from St. Ignatius HS in San Francisco, won its pool at 4-0 and lost only to eventual champion Dukes in the second championship-bracket game. Fog City beat teams from New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut. The Black Rhinos from Portland, Ore., won their pool at 3-1 and finished 5-3 overall.
Team America 1
No. Name Pos '12 Grd High School 1 Michael Ortlieb G 12 Corona Del Mar 2 Brett Nelson M 11 Corona Del Mar 3 Kyle Sherburne M 12 Corona Del Mar 4 Brett Greenlee D 9 Corona Del Mar 5 Ben Palitz A 9 Corona Del Mar 6 Jake Priester M 9 Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic 7 Sean Rogers A 10 Loudoun County, Va. 8 Sherwin Gersten M 9 Corona Del Mar 9 Michael Keasey M 12 Corona Del Mar 10 Hoyt Crance G 9 Corona Del Mar 11 Kellen Loftus LSM 11 Chaminade 12 Chris Von Der Ahe A 11 Corona Del Mar 13 Keith Thomas M 11 Granada Hills Charter 14 Chase McElroy M 11 Corona Del Mar 15 Jay Damon M 10 Corona Del Mar 16 Daniel McCabe M 10 Corona Del Mar 17 Jack Ewles D 10 Corona Del Mar 18 Todd Kitzens A 11 Corona Del Mar 19 Jack Ortlieb A 11 Corona Del Mar 20 Casey Mix A 11 Corona Del Mar 21 Riley Robinson A 12 Newport Harbor 22 Hugh Crance LSM 9 Corona Del Mar 23 Rocky Feinberg A 11 Corona Del Mar 24 Jack Murrel D 12 Newport Harbor 25 Patrick Shea A 10 Charlotte (N.C.) Latin 27 Matt English D 12 Corona Del Mar
Team America 2
No. Name Pos '12 Grd High School 2 Kole Escher A 10 Newport Harbor 3 Mitch Kalkwarf A 8 Chaminade 4 Noah Howe A 9 Corona Del Mar 5 Nino Chavez M 9 Corona Del Mar 6 Logan Miller M 9 Corona Del Mar 7 Jack Lynch A 9 Newport Harbor 8 Kaveh Torabian D 8 Oaks Christian 9 Cole Campbell LSM 9 Corona Del Mar 10 William Cord A 8 Corona Del Mar 11 Stephen Von Der Ahe A 8 Corona Del Mar 12 Caleb Bozarth LSM 8 San Clemente 13 John Connelly D 9 Newport Harbor 14 John Harzan G 11 Orange Lutheran 15 Matthew Truninger D 8 Corona Del Mar 16 Jacob Flaxman M 8 Corona Del Mar 17 Skyler Hauck M 8 Corona Del Mar 18 Max Kline M 9 Corona Del Mar 19 Nick Vass A 11 Esperanza 21 Matthew Saucedo M 8 Corona Del Mar 22 Chasen Colter M 8 Newbury Park 23 Jason Simaan M 8 Corona Del Mar