Preston Deno (2018) Southlake - Attack/Midfield
Preston Deno out of Southlake is a versatile, slick, and clever player that can really make an impact anywhere on the field.
Defensively, Deno can match-up with most short sticks and play great on-ball defense. He also has a solid understanding of team defense and while on the defensive half, he communicates. When the ball is on the ground, his skill and toughness allow him to compete for every loose ball.
If guarded by a short stick, Deno is a match-up. While he has the ability to dodge down the alley and stroke it on the run, that's not really his game. He plays at many different speeds and has the ability to slow defenders down before beating them with an explosive first step. Deno is also completely comfortable carrying against pressure. He will lean on short sticks and then use his fakes and understanding of leverage to slip by defenders. He understands angles and spacing as a dodger and consistently gets underneath to the front of the cage. Once he's in, the ball is likely going to its home or the goalie will be forced to make a tough save as he is blessed with great hands and knows how to move the goalie before snapping it out. He is equally capable of carrying against poles and played his sophomore season at attack for the Southlake Dragons. This experience playing against some of the best close defenseman our state has to offer, will no doubt pay dividends in his junior season.
Preston is an effective threat off ball as well. The kid understands spacing and gets to the ball carrier's eyes. He is a talented cutter that sets his defenders up to be cut. He's a deceptive shooter that can bury it when given time and room from many different release points which makes it tough on opposing goalies to get a beat on it. If he's not shooting from time and room, he will make approaching defenders think he is by winding up and then beating them with a hard hitch or underneath move.
Preston is not just a scorer though. He possesses the touch, skill, and creativity to be a threat as a feeder as well. He draws a lot of attention with the ball in his stick and has the vision to distribute to teammates with a full repertoire of different passes. It's not uncommon to see him throw behind the back passes under duress, feed out of wind ups, or sling a side arm through pass to a shooter on the backside.
With two years of varsity experience under his belt, Deno will be a force for the Dragons this season. He has a well-rounded skill set that will certainly continue to improve. With his commitment to strength training over the summer and throughout the upcoming fall, he could have a major impact for Southlake this Spring.