Interview w/ Nick Merrell, Q&A w/ Waterford Freshman Spencer Reagan

Issue 58

  
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Good morning lacrosse fans. Thank you for taking time out of your day for the Utah Lax Report. Don’t forget to forward to a friend, it’s the best way for the newsletter to grow.

Interview with Olympus Head Coach Nick Merrell

My podcast interview this week is with Olympus Head Coach Nick Merrell. Merrell played at West and the University of Utah. After graduation, he coached at West with his brother, Corey, and then moved to Olympus in 2017. In the podcast we talk about when Utah went to Colorado in 2008 and beat CU and CSU in the same weekend. Here’s my recap from that weekend.

Olympus Head Coach Nick Merrell

Merrell (2) at the Pac-12 Shootout at UCLA in 2011

You can listen to the latest podcast above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe and leave a rating!

While you’re out and about at games, stop by Vessel Kitchen. Vessel Kitchen has locations in Midvale, Sandy, 9th + 9th and Kimball Junction.

Week 4 Coaches Polls

Before we dive into the polls, I want to set the stage for the postseason. To be 100% clear, the UHSAA RPI is the sole source for playoff position. The first update will be released this Friday, April 9, at 9 a.m. on the UHSAA website. The coaches poll is a fun poll that I conduct to get the coaches’ opinion of where teams stack up. After all, they are the ones on the field, not the computer.

No. 1 Corner Canyon - The Chargers went 2-0 last week against Region 4 foes Pleasant Grove (20-5) and Westlake (20-0). Corner Canyon is off this week and will take on Skyridge on 4/15.

No. 2 Farmington - The Park City losses meant Farmington moved up one spot in the polls despite not playing last week. The Phoenix will head on the road this week for a 4/7 showdown against Northridge and a sneaky good game on Friday at Wasatch. Two Wasps (Josh Nokes and Cam Horner) played for Farmington in 2019.

No. 3 Olympus - After a week off (in Hawaii1), the Titans will host Box Elder on Friday.

No. 4 American Fork - The Cavemen beat Region 4 opponent Lone Peak on Tuesday, 9-5 (Deseret News Recap), then followed that win with a 10-6 win over Pleasant Grove. American Fork will take the week off and then travel to Skyridge on 4/13 and host Westlake on 4/15.

No. 5 Mountain Ridge - A 15-0 trouncing of Timpanogos on Tuesday is a great way to head into Spring Break. The Sentinels are in action again on 4/13 against Mountain View.

No. 6 Park City - The Miners fell four spots in this week’s poll which is the pollsters correcting the results from two weeks ago when Corner Canyon and American Fork beat the Miners. Last week, the Miners beat Region 8 opponents and newer programs Springville and Provo, 30-1, respectively. A follower on Twitter asked if the 30 goal limit was the new 20 goal limit and I’m here to say that no, it’s not. If we look at the box score from that game, 11 Miners tallied at least a point. The leader had 10 points which isn’t unheard of in a lacrosse game. The Provo box score shows the Miners were leading 20-0 at the half then went 5-0, 5-1 to finish the game. Park City will take on No. 8 Davis on Tuesday in Kaysville.

Say or think what you will, but I think it’s a good time to bring up the fact that we’ve seen a ton of blowouts this year and it feels like it’s been more than normal. One coach thinks it’s a goalie problem with the hypothesis being there are only a handful of great goalies and no one is stopping shots. I’m okay with that theory. Goalie is a tricky position and we certainly don’t have a ton of goalie coaches out there coaching up the goalies. In my experience, it’s the position most coaches know the least about. I personally think this is one of many manifestations of sanctioning growing pains. Springville is an offshoot of the old Spanish Fork Warriors so only a handful of players at most have played before. Provo was a first-year program last year and has a new coach this year. I think we’ll continue to see these types of scores for the next 2-3 years as teams/programs become more established. I think if we ran a poll, most would say that 30 goals is too many.

No. 7 Timpview - A 19-0 win over Mountain View on Monday and an 8-7 loss to Brighton (Highlights) on Friday is a tricky way to head into Spring Break with a 4/14 matchup with No. 3 Olympus on the horizon.

No. 8 Davis - I’ve watched Davis play in-person twice and I’m convinced they have the pieces to be a top team in the state. The Darts host No. 6 Park City on Tuesday in a game that will surely boost the winners’ RPI. Davis also hosts Syracuse on Thursday.

Green Canyon @ Brighton - Full Gallery

No. 9 Green Canyon - The Wolves enter the polls for the first time this year after beating Brighton, 10-8, on Tuesday and Mountain Crest, 21-2, on Friday. I’ve talked to two coaches who have played the Wolves and one felt they were better than the score reflected and the other said they were the best team they’ve faced so far. The Wolves should coast through the remainder of its schedule and enter the playoffs with a lone loss to Corner Canyon. I’m just glad we have representation from Cache County. With the Wolves in the polls, we have three teams from Salt Lake County, three from Utah County, two from Davis County, one from Summit County, and one from Cache County.

No. 10 Lone Peak - The Knights lost to American Fork on Tuesday, 9-5, then beat Skyridge, 19-6 on Thursday. A week off will give the Knights time to prepare for a 4/15 showdown against Pleasant Grove.

Wasatch v. Bonneville Highlights

No. 1 Park City - The Miners opened Region 8 play with a 22-0 win over Springville and a 20-8 win over No. 5 Waterford (Deseret News Recap). A week off will lead to more region games against Payson and Spanish Fork. The Miners have 12 players who have tallied at least one goal this season. Senior Kendell Keblish is averaging 6.4 points per game.

No. 2 Brighton - The Bengals beat Jordan, 22-5, and will take on Copper Hills on 4/16.

No. 3 Mountain Ridge - The Sentinels face Herriman on Tuesday and No. 8 Riverton on Thursday.

No. 4 Alta - The Hawks beat Region 8 foe Lehi, 22-2, on Tuesday and will take a week off before taking on Orem on 4/13. Eliza Johnson continues to dominate for the Hawks while averaging 5 goals per game.

No. 5 Waterford - The Ravens had a chance to move up the rankings but Park City had other plans, sending Waterford home with a 20-8 loss. Waterford faces Highland on Tuesday and Olympus on Friday.

No. 6 Skyridge - Skyridge beat Westlake, 19-7, on Tuesday then beat Lone Peak, 13-7, on Thursday in a key Region 4 battle. The Falcons have the week off before taking in No. 8 American Fork on 4/13 and No. 7 Corner Canyon on 4/15.

Sky View @ Bonneville - Full Gallery

No. 7 Corner Canyon - The Chargers beat Pleasant Grove on Tuesday, 15-6, then trounced Westlake, 19-2, on Friday. Corner Canyon enters Spring Break this week then takes on Lone Peak on 4/13 and Skyridge on 4/15.

No. 8 Riverton - The Silverwolves will take on Olympus on Tuesday in a battle of unbeaten teams. Riverton will then travel to No. 3 Mountain Ridge on Thursday.

No. 9 American Fork - The Lady Cavemen picked up a key win on Tuesday against Lone Peak, 14-10, and a 19-9 win over Pleasant Grove on Thursday. A home game against No. 6 Skyridge on 4/13 will welcome the team back from Spring Break.

No. 10 Davis - The Darts have scored 85 goals and allowed just 16 in 5 games. I suspect the trend will continue until a May 10th affair with No. 2 Brighton.

Q&A with Waterford Freshman Spencer Reagan

Spencer Reagan (35, Waterford) wins a faceoff against Highland - Full Gallery

I’m always trying to find a hidden gem when it comes to telling stories about lacrosse in Utah. When going over the stats on MaxPreps2 I had to find out more about a Freshman at Waterford named Spencer Reagan who is leading the state at the faceoff X. I saw him live against Highland and he’s impressive. Here’s his stat line through six games:

  • v. Orem: 17/19, 1G, 1A

  • v. Payson: 9/11, 2G, 2A

  • v. Green Canyon: 22/27, 2G, 1A

  • v. Wasatch: 24/26

  • v. Juan Diego: 17/18, 1G

  • v. Highland: 24/25, 1G

The two faceoffs lost in the Juan Diego and Highland games were from violations. Reagan is currently winning 89.7% of faceoffs. I went back to the utahlax.org site to see how this compares to past years. In 2019, Christian Dimond finished 258/328 which is 78.66%. In 2018, the league leader was winning 78.72% of faceoffs. Jace Thomas (Bountiful/2014), who is regarded as one of the best faceoff specialists to come out of Utah, won 82.43% of faceoffs his Junior year3. Reagan should keep pace through the remainder of the Waterford schedule.

“I can't say enough good things about Spencer,” said Waterford Head Coach Jack Matthews. “One thing that makes him so dangerous as a faceoff guy is his plethora of moves that he can use. He can win it to himself forward or backward and he can win it to either wing guy. This makes him really hard to defend against and it all comes from his hard work outside of practice. He goes home and does reps, he studies film, he plays in as many tournaments as he can, and so much more. He's also no slouch once he wins it either. He's making plays in transition and he even stays and plays offense for us.”

After high school, Reagan hopes to play college lacrosse while studying business.

5 Questions w/ Spencer Reagan

  1. TH: When/why did you start playing lacrosse?
    SR: I became intrigued with lacrosse in the summer of my 5th-grade year and attended a camp put on by the University of Utah. Then, the coach of the Waterford IMLAX 5/6 team, Kelly Caroll, generously provided me the opportunity to play for Waterford in the Fall of that year. I am very appreciative of Coach Carroll for giving me my first chance to play this amazing game. 

  2. TH: What is your favorite part about lacrosse?
    SR: My favorite aspects of lacrosse are the friendships I make with my teammates/coaches and the ‘life lessons’ lacrosse provides me. 

  3. TH: What is your stick of choice?
    SR: My stick of choice is a StringKing Mark 2F stiff on a Maverik shaft, strung with Hero 3.0 strung by Lorenzo Velluto. Lorenzo is a stringing wizard.

  4. TH: What is your favorite field to play lacrosse on?
    SR: There are two fields that I love to play at: Waterford because the field and school are such beautiful places and Troy Park in Maryland because the fields there are very well maintained.  

  5. TH: How/why did you pick your jersey number? 
    SR: I chose my jersey number because there were only two extra-large jerseys left and of those two, I liked #35 the best!

College Update

Mens
If you weren’t watching the Utah v. Boston game on Saturday, you missed out. The Utes fell behind early, 2-0. It looked like it was going to be a long day, but the Utes held strong and traded blows with the Terriers in a game that needed two overtimes to find a winner with the Utes taking home an 11-10 win (Recap | Box Score).

Wilson is the smallest player on the field yet scored the biggest goal of his career. How? A great, hard, roll dodge, overhand shot, bounced in the right spot to hit the top shelf or in other words: fundamentals. Fundamentals win ball games.

The Utes head to Virginia on April 17.

Westminster fell to No. 18 Colorado Mesa, 16-6 (Recap | Box Score), on Friday. Herriman alum Dylan Checketts went 19 of 26 at the faceoff X for CMU. The Griffins go on a two-game road swing this weekend with a game against CSU-Pueblo on Friday and Adams State on Sunday.

BYU beat Concordia-Irvine, 14-6, on Thursday and Boise State, 12-3, on Friday. The Cougars will return the favor to the Eagles as they head to Concordia-Irvine on Saturday then take on Chapman on Monday.

UVU beat Dominican, 11-10, on Monday then lost to Concordia-Irvine, 11-10. UVU will also travel to Southern California to take on Concordia-Irvine on Friday and Chapman on Saturday.

Utah State will head to Boise State on Saturday for a showdown against the Broncos.

Womens
Westminster beat Fort Lewis on Thursday, 21-17 (Recap | Box Score), then took to the road beat Adams State on Saturday, 20-0 (Recap | Box Score). The Griffins will host UC-Colorado Springs on Friday.

BYU beat Utah State, 8-6, on Saturday. The Cougars will play UVU on 4/7 and Utah on 4/10.

Be sure to follow ULR on InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

— Tim Haslam

1

This is an inside joke from the podcast. Go listen!

2

A friendly reminder to please enter your stats on MaxPreps!

3

Senior year stats were kept by the UHSLL which doesn’t have stats online anymore.