By Chris Goldberg
TopLaxRecruits.com, Posted 1/5/14
Coach Keith Lohmuller didn’t know what to expect when he took his Checkmate Sharks (N.Y.) down to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Tournament of Champions to compete in the Rising Stars Division last week in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
“We had no idea what the competition would be like or how we would stack up against other top tournament champions,” Lohmuller said of his Long Island-based team. “I stressed that I wanted to stay competitive but also wanted them to have lots of fun, especially being in Florida in December.”
The Sharks indeed enjoyed themselves. They went all the way to the championship game before bowing to powerful Mesa Fresh 2016 (PA), 9-3.
But the trip to Florida was a grand success.
“Each game brought different levels of talent that, working as a team, we were able to keep chipping away at (before) advancing to the finals,” Lohmuller said. “Most of our goals were assisted all weekend, which showed me that we were playing unselfishly and the way we try to practice.”
The Sharks advanced to the finals after defeating Northern Lacrosse (Ontario), 10-6, in the semifinals and Copperheads (GA), 11-4, in the quarterfinals. Overall, the Sharks went 6-1.
Checkmate’s highlight of the tourney was the semifinal victory. The Sharks fell behind, 3-0, but Kyle Brattan (Garden City) scored off a skip pass from Gordon Purdie that found the corner on the off-stick side and reportedly went over 95 mph.
The Sharks took the lead before halftime thanks to a hat trick by Joe Barbato (East Meadow). Both goalies, Ryland Frost (North Shore) and Brendan McDougal (Lynbrook), had multiple one-on-one saves to fire up the team.
“The go ahead goal looked like a backyard display of two friends who have played together for years, which they have,” he added. “This individual play got the team pumped and they never looked back after this.
“Owen Daly was sweeping across the top to his right when he took what everyone thought was a weak shot. But it was tremendously off the mark to the goalie-side-right, as the ball was suspended in air going to no one. All we saw was Gordon Purdie coming full speed from behind the cage and grabbing the spot-feed and dunking it in the cage.
As a coach, I looked at both of the smiles on those two, who rehearsed that after practices at Lynbrook; as well as the awe-inspired jaw drop by their teammates and just knew that the boys were having fun and that was more important to me than anything.”
Lohmuller also had praise for Mesa Fresh, the officiating and the way the tourney was run.
“Reaching the finals was a goal of ours from the start,” said Lohmuller. “We were very pleased with the sportsmanship displayed by our opponent from both the coaches and players. We had the best referees in Florida officiating our game and everything was well organized. Coach (Gordon) Purdie and I look forward to possibly playing a team like that again in the future; and we both agreed that there was no shame in losing to a talented squad like Mesa Fresh 2016.”
Lohmuller said the entire Sharks’ team deserved recognition, and mentioned these players for their performance:
Defenseman Eddie Bouhall, Lehigh Commit. “He had numerous takeaways and countless ground balls as well as several assists at key times. When you want the ball back, put Eddie on the player and shut off adjacent passes and press out everywhere else.”
Kyle Brattan, Air Force commit. “He had a cannon of a shot on the run gave us an opportunity to change the focus of attack because of him. He was also over 80% on faceoffs and started many fast breaks.”
Nick Damaro: “This FOGO had many coaches scratching their heads. Most of them decided to concede the faceoff in the second half. Nick won over 90% of his faceoffs and (partnered) well with Brattan.
Gordon Purdie: “A very flashy attackman who is the real deal. He is a game changer and will wow most coaches with his disciplined approach and flawless concept of lacrosse fundamentals. He is the smartest offensive player on my team.”
John Neil: “This 6’5″ defenseman is my top cover guy with excellent footwork and a fantastic stick when clearing the ball. He is very composed with high side defense and is extremely strong. Off ball, he is always ready to slide and communicates well with his teammates. He moves like a gazelle and has excellent vision downfield.”
Checkmate Sharks Roster
Shane Clark (Oceanside)
Joseph Barbato (East Meadow)
Gordon Purdie (Lynbrook)
Michael Osmundsen (Hicksville)
Carter Morgan (St. George’s Academy, RI)
Anthony Corrao (Baldwin)
Kyle Brattan-Garden City
Philip Brady (Massapequa)
Michael Petty (Port Washington)
Owen Daly (Lynbrook)
Christopher Koester (Garden City)
Eddie Bouhall (Lynbrook)
John Neil (Port Washington)
Jack Thomann (Calhoun)
Peter Motley (Mepham)
Charlie Scharf (Port Washington)
Ryland Frost (North Shore)
Brendan McDougal (Lynbrook)
Michael Raver (Chaminade)
Nick Damaro (Eastport-South Manor)