College lacrosse is back and freshmen are turning heads everywhere, both at Top 20 programs, middle-of-the-road schools with needs after graduation and new Division I programs.
In a new feature that will run a few times a month, Recruiting Rundown will be highlighting impact rookies throughout the landscape. This post will be complete with stats, quotes and as often as possible, video from both from past games and their high school action.
For the spring of 2015, I will be using Inside Lacrosse’s Power 100 as a reference, which was put together by yours truly before my departure from the magazine and subsequent launch of this website. Incoming freshman rankings will, of course, be performed here on RR.
Check back next week for an update on more impactful freshmen in Division I. I’ll be up in New Haven for a matchup between Yale and Maryland. In addition to that, I know I’ll be checking out the stat sheet and Twittersphere to see if the freshmen from Air Force, Boston U., Penn and a few others were able to keep up their early success.
New Jersey native Baptiste dominates in Denver’s debut
A big catalyst behind Denver’s 9-1 second half run to knock off Duke, Morristown-Beard School (N.J.) alum Trevor Baptiste was an absolute monster in his debut for the Pios, winning 25 of 34 face-offs with a whopping 14 groundballs. Sharpening his craft in the offseason with the Face-off Academy crew, the freshman simply had his way with the Blue Devils’ draw takers and put the ball wherever he wanted, goosing it out to his wings or going forward. A 5’10, 215-pound beast of an athlete with excellent hand speed and upper body strength registered a goal to make it 5-5 in the second quarter.
Interestingly enough, the former Building Blocks Lacrosse standout was at one point committed to Division III program Franklin & Marshall. Baptiste, who accumulated over 600 groundballs in his final two years of high school, was ranked as IL’s No. 78 overall recruit and No. 3 face-off man behind Hopkins’ Hunter Moreland and Villanova’s Luke Palmadesso.
Touted young attackmen lead the way for ACC dynamos
With plenty of known commodities returning on offense this year, 2014 finalists Notre Dame and Duke may not have expected such monster performances from fresh faces in their respective openers. However, a pair of former top five recruits backed up the hype that they garnered during high school at perennial powerhouses and put up multi-goal performances to start their careers in proper fashion.
Filling for the departed Johnny Scioscia as the Fighting Irish’s crafty inside finisher, St. Paul’s (Md.) grad Mikey Wynne registered six goals on 11 shots for a wildly impressive day in ND’s 14-12 home win over Georgetown. The No. 4 incoming recruit in this past fall’s Recruiting Issue, Wynne broke the Crusaders’ program record with 69 goals during his junior year (after transferring from Glenelg High) then followed that up with 72G, 20A and 60 groundballs. Perhaps the best crease finisher I’ve ever had the pleasure of covering, he’s a player who makes things happen in tight windows and is not only unselfish but is one of the better riding and groundball attackmen in recent memory. I’d been chomping at the bit to see him mesh with Matt Kavanagh for two years: along with senior Conor Doyle this year, those three will be quite the excitable attack unit. Opposing defenses will certainly have to pick their poison, especially when you consider how strong the midfield has become with the prowess of Sergio Perkovic and his linemates.
Despite all of the talent waiting in the wings for the Blue Devils, it would’ve been fair to assume that a freshman would step in after Josh Dionne and Jordan Wolf’s graduation left some question marks. Enter Justin Guterding, the No. 1 ranked postgrad, who spent last season at Salisbury School (Conn.) after an awesome career at Long Island power Garden City. A sharpshooting lefty with athleticism and IQ, Guterding is now second on the team with 14 goals and a pair of assists, sitting behind fellow LI native/Salisbury postgrad Myles Jones and his phenomenal start to the season with 23 points.
The Blue Devils have had to be creative with their offense in the early goings, taking into account the aforementioned graduation losses (Christian Walsh left a hole as well), Kyle Keenan’s indefinite suspension that lacks a public timetable and an injury to Case Matheis, who still pitched in two assists in Saturday’s loss to Denver. Jack Bruckner’s been running attack, Chad Cohan’s gone back and forth and, of course, Jones attracts a significant amount of defensive attention from up top. Guterding provides a shooting threat who can successfully dodge against talented longpoles and be a threat on the EMO. In high school (he won two state championships during his GC days), the two-sport standout dabbled at midfield as a sophomore, so don’t be surprised to see him line up there in the future. Opposing coaches would perhaps be forced to put a shortstick on him at times which, given his success through three games, probably wouldn’t end well. Take a gander at the highlight reel made after his PG year at the ‘Bury.
Loaded freshman classes classes dazzle at Hopkins-Villanova
When the Wildcats and Blue Jays took the field on Saturday amidst a snow storm, it was not only a rematch of a hyper competitive game in 2014, but a showcase of two top six recruiting classes that have contributed significantly to their teams already. Playing on their home turf, the Wildcats came out strong but weren’t able to keep up with Hopkins’ shooters and their superior depth, falling 13-10 at the hands of the Blue Jays.
For Villanova, their Power 100 members – No. 8 ranked Sean Cerrone (Chaminade, N.Y.), No. 42 Christian Cuccinello (Mountain Lakes, N.J.) and No. 100 Danny Seibel (Belmont Hill, Mass.) – combined for seven goals and three assists on the day. Cerrone, a powerful middie who proved himself as a clutch player as a Flyer senior, led the charge with two goals and two assists. Cuccinello, named the NJ State POY, was able to dodge effectively from different on the field and use his thick frame to his advantage. The least unheralded of the three, Seibel definitely showed what he can do in game action (his hat trick can be seen below) after blowing away the coaching staff during fall ball. Do-it-all middie Luke Palmadesso scooped two GB’s and went 6-for-13 at the face-off X before suffering a minor injury. All in all, the Wildcats’ heralded freshman class will need to make a pivotal impact this year and got off to quick start.
Hopkins, meanwhile, continued to receive excellent help from their young bucks on offense. Though that class of freshmen played like freshmen in their upset loss at Towson, they were back at it on on the road and. On Saturday, top-ranked recruit Shack Stanwick actually got the starting nod at midfield, while also rotating with breakout sophomore Wilkins Dismuke at the third attack spot. Shack racked up 2g & 1a, including a nifty quick stick after accepting a gorgeous cross crease pass from older brother Wells in the third quarter.
No. 2 recruit Joel Tinney, a lefty Canadian out of Culver Military Academy (Ind.), has started all three games. Though he’s just 2-for-11 shooting, he has still shown flashes of brilliance. 2014 natty champ and No. 28 recruit Hunter Moreland (Boys’ Latin, Md.) has made an impact as expected, rotating at the face-off X with senior Drew Kennedy and winning 58% of the nineteen draws that he has taken through three games. A surprise on paper but not to the people that saw him play extensively in high school, Patrick Fraser (Dexter School, Mass.) is a key cog on the EMO unit for the Hopkins. The 3d New England alum was never ranked but is fourth on the team in points with two each in goals and assists. Freshmen middies Tal Bruno, Sam Lynch and Brinton Valis have also performed well early on and will be players to watch going forward.