I mentioned last week that with only a single Senior on the roster this year, underclassman production was going to be a must for success for this year's squad. This was doubly true this weekend as Coach Michael Walker had a number of starters suspended for the first half because of violation of team rules in the past week.
(A little info on Coach Walker: Orignally from Pennsylvania, Michael moved to San Diego and accumulated most of his lacrosse experience on the West Coast. In 2000 and 2001, he was a San Diego County All-Star for Juniperro Serra High School. From there, he attended Cal State University and then Chico State University in 2002. At Chico State, Michael made the WCLL All-Conference team and helped lead Chico to a berth in the MCLA Division 1 National Tournament, where they lost in the 2nd round but finished #13 in the MCLA final polls.
After his career at Chico State, Michael joined the Varsity coaching staff at Monte Vista High School in San Diego (2004). He then left Monte Vista for a coaching position at Collierville High School in Memphis, TN (2005-2007). Michael spent 2008 & 2010 playing for TSG Heidelberg, a German lacrosse team that competes in the Division 1 Bundesliga, while in 2009 he spent on active duty for the U.S. Army in Iraq. Coach Walker served as the Defensive Coordinator for Alabama last season and has been promoted to Head Coach for the 2013 season.)
It seems that Coach Walker is bringing that military dicipline with him, and no doubt that is helping these underclassman transition to producing roles. In fact, 8 of Bama's 13 goals and ALL 11 assists were from Freshman or Sophomores.
Although some torrential downpours left the field in question, the game’s outcome was never in doubt. Junior attackman Chris Palasek (Rocky Point, NY/ Rocky Point H.S.) led the Alabama (2-0, 0-0) offense with 4 goals as the Tide rolled Kentucky (0-3, 0-1) 13-3 on Saturday night. Freshman Logan Burnett (Lake Worth, FL/ St. Andrew’s School) recorded 3 goals and 1 assist while attackman Chris Balla (Washington, DC/ St. John’s College H.S.) continued his stellar young career by adding 2 goals and an assist of his own. That gives Balla 6G,1A through two games.
When Alabama did get it in their offensive end they were able to get a lot of open looks at the goal but questionable shot selection combined with some good saves by the UK goalie kept the game scoreless for most of the 1st, when defenseman Teddy Manders (Potomac, MD/ Gonzaga College H.S.) took a clear straight through the Kentucky defense and found freshman Matt McCormack (Jacksonville, FL/ Fleming Island H.S.) for the score.
McCormack’s goal was the first of 5 straight for the Crimson Tide, as Joseph Bowker (Birmingham, AL/ Vestavia Hills H.S.), Danny Kaufman (Birmingham, AL/Spain Park H.S.) and Colin Kruger (Orlando, FL/ First Academy) all recorded their first goals of the season.
Kentucky’s offense would manage only one first half goal thanks to a rock solid performance from sophomore goalie Cam Weineke (Louisville, KY/ St. Xavier H.S.). Making his first start for Alabama, Weineke posted 7 saves and 3 groundballs. The close defense for Alabama was very aggressive and was able to put the ball on the ground on numerous occasions.
Leading 5-1 at halftime, Alabama would concede two early goals in the second half. From then on, the Tide’s offense controlled the pace of the game and Kentucky would not score again. Junior captain Chris Palasek recorded all 4 of his goals in the second half, coupled with multiple scores from Burnett and Balla.
For the second straight week, Alabama wore down their opponent and dominated the fourth quarter. All in all the team looked faster and stronger than UK and were it not for a slow start, sloppy field, and some mental breakdowns the game could have gotten out of hand quickly. The offense has plenty of weapons but still seems to be looking for an identity, which is to be expected this early in the season with so many new faces. The defense on the other hand is big, mean, and fiercely talented.
Manders had 2 assists that were from him single-handedly taking the ball away from his man and clearing it himself. He recorded 9 groundballs, 2 assists, and nearly scored at the end of the first half. Outstanding hustle from sophomore midfielder Davis Diamond (Atlanta, GA/ Norcross H.S.) and junior midfielder Craig Landru (Rochester Hills, MI/Eisenhower H.S.) were testaments to Alabama’s conditioning. Diamond recorded 7 groundballs and added 3 assists on the night.
The Crimson Tide are now 2-0 on the year. They have won both games by 10 goal margins, and have not trailed yet this season.
This coming week, the Tide’s schedule gets much tougher. Alabama will face the University of Tennessee Vols (1-3, 0-1) on Friday 3/1 at 7:00pm. On Sunday 3/3, Alabama will face the Ole Miss Rebels (2-2, 0-2) at 12:00pm in their first divisional game of the season. Both contests are home games and will be played on the Alabama Rec Fields.
Below is a little bit of film from the weekend. As always go to tidelax.com
for more info