Ridge Point OL Sharp makes U18 USA lacrosse team
It was during his eighth-grade year at Quail Valley Middle School that Evan Sharp decided to go all-in on lacrosse. His future was set.
"I was on 'A' team for football, but I wasn't really a star offensive lineman," said Sharp, a senior at Ridge Point High. "But I'd get out from football and go straight to lacrosse practice, and I was just killing it, even playing with the high school team in eighth grade. That's where I found my passion. I still enjoy football, but my mind was on lacrosse during football practice and that's when I knew it's what I wanted to do."
Sharp's inclination paid off. Still a formidable force on the football field as a starting left guard for the Panthers, Sharp is a verbal commit to Jacksonville University in Florida, one of two NCAA DI lacrosse programs in the south, and recently was named to the U18 USA lacrosse team.
The 6-foot Sharp is one of only two goalies named to the forty-four-man team, and is the only player south of Maryland to make the team.
Sharp found out the news after receiving an email during a pregame chapel session the Panthers had before the football season-opener two weeks ago.
"It was so cool," Sharp said. "I got to share it with the team."
After applying to try out for the U18 team, Sharp was invited to a regional tryout in Georgia. He did well, selected as one of 150 to advance to the national tryout out of 2,000 players, and also starred at the national combine in mid-August.
"I was very nervous, but I also feel like I play well when I'm nervous," Sharp said of his national tryout performance. "Your adrenaline's pumping and everything. But it's a lot like football, where you settle in after the first snap. After that first shot on cage, I'm good to go and flowing."
Sharp started playing lacrosse in the third grade. Initially, it was a way to keep him in shape and preoccupied during the spring, when the offseason for football takes place. Sharp found that playing lacrosse had a lot in common with playing the offensive line, with similar use of lateral foot movement and punching hands.
"But it eventually became my first love," Sharp said. "It's so fast-paced, such an interesting game. There's a fluidity to it. There's just so many aspects to it. One of my favorite things is as a goalie, you don't have to be the most athletic guy, but hard work off the field really correlates onto the field for lacrosse."
In the sixth grade, Sharp moved from defender to focus more on playing goalie. He had unique gifts that made him stand out.
"A big part of it is my size," Sharp said. "Obviously, I'm bigger than most other goalies and can take up a lot more space in front of the goal. But it's also hand speed. I've been gifted with really fast hands that I've homed in on a lot. I think that's what makes my game so good. I'm able to get to those shots that maybe a lot of other goalies can't get to because they have slower hands."
Ridge Point senior goalie Evan Sharp.Photo courtesy of Evan Sharp.
Sharp has excelled playing for Ridge Point's lacrosse team. He was named team MVP in 2019 and 2020. In 2019, he compiled 171 saves with a 67.0 save percentage and 4.2 goals-against average. Sharp's 3.2 goals-against average in 2020 was the lowest in the state when the season was canceled after six games due to COVID-19. He posted a 77.0 save percentage.
Sharp credits Ridge Point lacrosse coach Ed Torriero for emphasizing the IQ and work ethic necessary to be successful at a high level in the sport. Last September, Sharp committed to Jacksonville, impressed by the coaching staff (head coach John Galloway is considered one of the best goalkeepers to ever play lacrosse) and its culture.
Sharp was adamant about staying south when continuing his lacrosse career. The north is a hotbed for the sport, but Sharp was intent on representing southern lacrosse, being recruited and making a name for himself in an area of the country where lacrosse is not popular.
"Being a proponent of a non-hotbed lacrosse area is important to me, so I can show younger kids who love the sport in the south that they can make it too," Sharp said.
Evan Sharp 2022 Jacksonville Goalie Commit: Spring 2021 Junior Year Highlights youtu.be
The U18 USA team will play a pair of exhibition games in mid-October in Maryland. Sharp is looking forward to it, and sometimes is amazed at how far he has come. But he hasn't done it alone.
"I want to give a shoutout to all the shooters that shot on me to help me get where I am," he said. "All the guys I worked out with, all my teams. I really appreciate them."
In the meantime, Sharp is football-minded for now. The Panthers are off to a 2-0 start this season against a considerably tough non-district schedule, and there is a sense 2021 could be their year.
"Obviously being an undersized offensive lineman, I'm not in the spotlight all the time or getting all the glory," Sharp said. "But I just want to block my tail off and give my quarterback the best shot that he has. This is one of the tightest teams I've ever played with, be it football or lacrosse. We play for each other, and that's really made this year so good."