Jack Ransom cut across the crease, deftly caught a feed from Team 91 South 2024 teammate Fletcher Curtis, and promptly snapped home a backhander.
It was a pure goal scorer’s goal and gave 91 South the first goal of the game in a battle against NLF founding member Leading Edge, but also lobbed an immediate salvo to anyone who had doubts about the team.
By the end of the game, Team 91 South had secured an 8-4 win, and by the end of the day, it had put the finishing touches on a perfect 3-0 day at the NLF Fall Invitational. That unblemished mark also included wins over Resolute and NLF National Championships finalist Eclipse.
“It’s definitely a great feeling, knowing that we can put together a team like this from the area and compete against a team that’s obviously really well-known across the country to be extremely good,” faceoff midfielder Ethan Kraske (Wakefield, N.C.) said. “To play them to a game where we win by four goals is a great feeling.”
Impressive Run at the Stripe
Kraske was a major driving force behind 91 South’s success. The younger brother of Team 91 Carolina 2022 faceoff middie and Ohio State signee Coleman Kraske, he split some early battles with Leading Edge’s Jordan Hernando (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) before pulling away for a 9-for-14 day at the stripe. It wasn’t just the nine wins, though, but also how Kraske strung them together. It was no coincidence that 91 South outscored Leading Edge, 5-0, in the second half with the way that Kraske controlled the dot.
“When you’re up against a FOGO that’s just as good as you, it’s really important to know what he’s doing, so as soon as I was able to figure out what he was doing, I was able to counter it,” Kraske said. “It made it a lot easier for me and it made it easier to get us the ball. I used a lot of rakes. If he would win the clamp, I would just come under and pop the ball out.”
When Kraske got the ball, the 91 South offense made the extra possessions count. Ransom and Brevin Wilson (Cannon, N.C.) each finished with two goals and an assist, while Brady Dolan (Cardinal Gibbons, N.C.) popped a pair of goals. Devon Christian (Hotchkiss, Conn.) tacked on a goal and an assist, while Jackson Spells (Green Level, N.C.) scored the other 91 South goal.
Holding Defenses Ransom at Attack
Ransom, in particular, bolstered his case to be a part of the first NLF class of 2024 rankings in January. The righty attackman recorded 42 points as a freshman for Charlotte Catholic, and while he’s an electric shooter, he also showed that he can get his teammates involved. He dished out a helper on Dolan’s second goal and had a handful of nifty pinpoint passes to his teammates.
Despite that, he’s really at his best as a finisher. His second of the game was a great play in traffic that he finished, and that spinning backhander to kick things off really showed the type of high-level skill set that he has.
“I just had a nice cut and I cut behind the defense,” Ransom said. “I got a pass and I didn’t know what to do with it, so I kind of just flicked it behind me and it went in. … In the second half, we kind of slowed it down, played our offense and put people in the right spots and we did what we can do.”
Elite Goaltending Duo
The goalie duo of Patrick Roelke (Delbarton, N.J.) and Graham Stevens (Pingry, N.J.), among the best goalie tandems in the class, kept Leading Edge in the game with a combined nine saves. Sean McCeney (Summit, N.J.), Rob Tyra (Arthur L. Johnson, N.J.)
Jack Sartorius (Delbarton, N.J.) and Charlie Sherman (Pingry, N.J.) supplied Leading Edge’s goals.
Team 91 South-Leading Edge Standouts
An all-state selection in South Carolina as a sophomore, Coombs has a Division I frame already at 6-2, 170 pounds. Combine that with his ability to run and you’ve got a very intriguing ’24 prospect from a non-traditional area. He covered everyone’s top scorer all day long and came away with high marks. Coombs also showcased a good stick and is very active in passing lanes.
An excellent midfield shooter who gets a ton of pop on his shot, Sartorius buried an alley rip to give Leading Edge its final lead of the day. He’s not a burner who’s going to explode past a defender all the time, but he’s really good at getting his hands free and transferring all of his weight into his shot. You have to press out on him, or else he’ll burn you every time he touches the ball.
Spells has the pure ability to be a dominant midfielder, and he showed flashes of that in 91 South’s win. His first step is too much for most defenders to handle, and he gets defenses to move because of it. Spells also showed some of his offensive handiwork when he pocketed a perfect low-and-away rip off of a Devon Christian feed. He’s also a willing defender who’s not afraid to get physical.
Team 91 South 8, Leading Edge 4
Leading Edge 2 2 0 0 – 4
Team 91 South 1 2 3 2 – 8
Leading Edge stats
Sean McCeney (Summit, N.J.) 1 goal
Rob Tyra (Arthur L. Johnson, N.J.) 1 goal
Jack Sartorius (Delbarton, N.J.) 1 goal
Charlie Sherman (Pingry, N.J.) 1 goal
Jordan Hernando (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) 5-for-14 faceoffs
Patrick Roelke (Delbarton, N.J.) 5 saves
Graham Stevens (Pingry, N.J.) 4 saves
Team 91 South stats
Jack Ransom (Charlotte Catholic, N.C.) 2 goals, 1 assist
Brevin Wilson (Cannon, N.C.) 2 goals, 1 assist
Brady Dolan (Cardinal Gibbons, N.C.) 2 goals
Jackson Spells (Green Level, N.C.) 1 goal
Devon Christian (Hotchkiss, Conn.) 1 goal, 1 assist
Colin Mendicino (Charlotte Catholic, N.C.) 1 assist
Fletcher Curtis (Myers Park, N.C.) 1 assist
Eric Mendenhall (Myers Park, N.C.) 1 assist
Ethan Kraske 9-for-14 faceoffs
Chris Schwartz (Middle Creek, N.C.) 5 saves
Hayden Leslie (Providence, N.C.) 2 saves