Froccaro Steals the "Show" for Team Freedom
by Brian Logue | LaxMagazine.com
Jake Froccaro scored three of his five goals in the fourth quarter to lead Freedom to the championship of the 2012 Champion All-American Showcase.
© Scott McCall
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Jake Froccaro came into the Champion All-American Showcase with perhaps the biggest reputation among the nearly 100 high school stars competing in the four-team tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Suffice to say, the Princeton recruit from Port Washington (N.Y.) High School, backed up that reputation.
Froccaro took over the game in the fourth quarter to lead Team Freedom to an 11-9 come-from-behind victory over Team Spirit in the championship game. Froccaro scored back-to-back goals just 15 seconds apart to give Freedom an 8-7 lead with eight minutes to play. With less than two minutes to play, Spirit trailed by one and had the ball, but Froccaro intercepted a pass and fed Ryan Hollingsworth to give Freedom a two-goal lead with 1:27 left.
Froccaro wasn’t done. Spirit’s Brock Ghelfi won the next faceoff and then ripped home an outside shot with 57 seconds left to pull Spirit back within 10-9. Froccaro came back on to win the next faceoff and then scored the clinching goal with 40 seconds remaining for the 11-9 win for Freedom.
Froccaro finished the game with five goals and won 10 of 13 faceoffs on a blistering hot day with temperatures on the field soaring over 100 degrees.
“Completely exhausted,” said Froccaro after the game. “At halftime I was exhausted, and now I feel even worse. I tried to conserve myself in the third quarter and then put it all on the line in the fourth. Fortunately it worked out for me.”
“It’s definitely a game-changer,” said Freedom coach Chris Cos of having a player like Froccaro on his team. Froccaro and Sam Llinares were among the biggest stars on Freedom, but there were plenty of others players that led the team to the championship.
“(Nick) Kilkowski was one of our real workhorses,” said Cos of the Rutgers’ recruit that scored two goals and two assists in the championship. “(Stephen) Polsinelli… that kid might not be the biggest kid out there, but he’s the guy you want on your team. “
The Champion All-American Showcase provides the opportunity for players from all over the country the chance to shine. Players from 31 states participated, including guys like Spirit defenseman Jon Dryke. The burly Minnesota native with a thick blonde beard earned the nickname “Icebox’ from his teammates and had two great takeaway checks in the championship. He’ll play club lacrosse at Minnesota-Duluth next year.
Spirit’s leading scorer in the tournament is also headed to club lacrosse next year. John Blackman, from Spartanburg, S.C., had three goals in the championship game and led his team with 12 goals in the tournament, second only to Froccaro’s 15. He’ll follow family roots to Wofford College next year to play club, but not before taking away some great memories.
“Unbelievable,” said Blackman. “I’ve been to a couple of tournaments like this, but not this high quality of play. These guys are good and the biggest guys I’ve ever played against. I was happy to be a part of it.”
But even the star players marveled at the talent on display.
“It was unbelievable to play with players of this caliber and do as well as I did,” said Froccaro. “It was a special tournament. Hopefully that’s not my best lacrosse and I have that ahead of me in college.”
In the consolation game, Dan Muller scored 36 seconds into the first overtime period to lift Liberty to a 10-9 victory over Pride. Liberty closed the tournament with two straight wins for a 2-2 overall record. Muller, Jibran Ahmad and Kevin McNally all had two goals for Liberty. Liberty goalie Kris Alleyne made seven saves while holding Pride scoreless for the fourth quarter and the overtime period. Brendan Caputo and Sam Becker each had two goals for Pride while William Ryan (12) and Connor Peaks (8) combined for 20 saves.
Following the championship, US Lacrosse Men’s Game Director Stephen Berger presided over the awards ceremony with each team’s coaching staff presenting a Team MVP and Sportsmanship Award. The honorees were:
Sportsmanship: Brendan Caputo, Chaminade High School (N.Y.) – Brown
MVP: Ray Mastroianni, Bridgewater-Raritan High School (N.J.) – Lehigh
Sportsmanship: Alexander Spring, Western Reserve Academy (Ohio) – Bucknell
MVP: Jabron Ahmid, Hackley School (N.Y.) – Dartmouth
Sportsmanship: Chandler Kirby, Corning High School (N.Y.) – Cornell (verbal)
MVP: Tanner Scales, Regis Jesuit (Colo.) High School – Virginia
Sportsmanship: Scott Davis, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Kans.) – Augustana
MVP: Jake Froccaro, Port Washington High School (N.Y.) – Princeton
Freedom 11, Spirit 9
Goals: Freedom – Jake Froccaro 5, Nick Kilkowski 2, Ryan Hunter, Scott Davis, Will Walter, Ryan Hollingsworth. Spirit – John Blackman 3, Brandon Phinny 2, Joe Baker, Ryan Fairman, Brock Ghelfi, Chris Wolter.
Assists: Freedom – Nick Kilkowski 2, JJ Ntshaykolo, Jake Froccaro. Spirit – Shane Fee 2, Troy Haefele, Ian Seale, Carson Clough, Jakob Woodhouse.
Goalkeeping: Freedom – Jack Kelly (8 saves, 5 GA), Thomas Gilligan (10 saves, 4 GA). Spirit – Jack Connelly (12 saves, 3 GA), Matt Sigmund (5 saves, 8 GA).
Liberty 10, Pride 9 (OT)
Goals: Liberty – Dan Muller 3, Jibran Ahmad 2, Kevin McNally 2, Ed Lubowicki, Will Pilat, Jeff Desko. Pride – Brendan Caputo 2, Sam Becker 2, A.J. Fish, Jacob Fuller, Ray Mastroianni, Anthony Ciammaichella, Colin Massa.
Assists: Liberty – Blake Dutton, Ed Lubowicki, Chris Pauzer. Pride – Anthony Ciammaichella, Brendan Caputo.
Goalkeeping: Liberty – Colin Delea (6 saves, 5 GA), Kris Alleyne (7 saves, 4 GA). Pride – William Ryan (12 saves, 6 GA), Connor Peaks (8 saves, 4 GA).