College lacrosse really took off this weekend, pleasing fans with phenomenal ESPNU games like Denver-UNC, Princeton-Hopkins and, to a lesser degree, UVA-Syracuse. Additional live streams were everywhere as well, showcasing some of the best freshmen in the country and providing intriguing results, whether it was the little guys or tournament titans of Division I.
In this week’s edition of Rookie Watch, a number of newcomers are highlighted, from Durham to Detroit. As they did in last week’s piece, attackmen continue to take the spotlight, though highly touted midfielders and defensemen have also emerged early on.
As always in this feature, mentions of rankings refer to Inside Lacrosse’s Top 20 Classes and Power 100 Recruits, lists I put together late in the summer before leaving to launch this site.
The nation’s No. 20 recruiting class for Georgetown came to life in the Hoyas’ first win of the year, a 13-11 home win this weekend over Hofstra, the alma mater of head coach Kevin Warne. An offensive class that combines elite athleticism at the midfield with underrated talent at attack, it’s led by Long Island’s Craig Berge, an outstanding dodger and feeder who notched three assists on Saturday and is the No. 5 freshman recruit. Coming in without much fanfare, Pittsford (N.Y.) alum and hard-nosed dodger Stephen Quinzi scored a hat trick against the Pride and now has six goals and one helper so far. He played club for SweetLax and high school and also strongly considered Yale and Cornell during the recruit process. The big story, however, was the play of former Duxbury (Mass.) keeper Nick Marrocco, one of the better goalie recruits in the country. The athletic, quick-handed lefty has racked up 34 saves through three games and received his first collegiate win by corralling 17 shots. Once choosing the Hoyas over Cornell, Brown, Colgate and Dartmouth, he’s a kid who will gain confidence as time goes on and is a strong communicator with a knack for a huge save in close. Georgetown faces a young Mt. St. Mary’s team on Wednesday before hosting Hobart on Saturday.
Duke attackman Justin Guterding was written up in the first Rookie Watch two weeks ago but considering the fact that he’s leading the nation in goals (26), not writing him up this week would be silly. On back-to-back days, Guterding put up six goals against Harvard and Providence, respectively, adding a trio of assists in their 21-14 win over the Crimson. I was able to watch some of the Providence game live (both matchups are available on ESPN3) and was pretty blown away at how easy dodging and shooting came to him. On one play, he caused a turnover in the ride, accepted a feed from fellow Long Islander Jack Bruckner and buried it. In general, Guterding is a crucial piece of the puzzle since teams devote so much attention to Myles Jones and Deemer Class. Once Kyle Keenan and Case Matheis are back in the lineup, that will only help his cause. For now, Mitch Russell (Fort Mill, S.C.) got the start and put up a goal and an assist on Saturday, while No. 3 recruit Greg Pelton (Malvern Prep, Pa.) was penciled into the starting defense and took advantage of the opportunity. Pelton had six GB’s in the Blue Devils’ two games and was a nuisance as a cover man, also helping greatly in the clearing game with his athleticism and superb stick skills. Another kid who will have a fantastic career, former hockey standout Peter Welch (No. 11 recruit – Delbarton, N.J.) pitched in an assist and got some burn at LSM.
Holy Cross made a massive statement when they went to Loyola and upset the Greyhounds. A week later, however, the No. 19 Crusaders hosted Rick Sowell’s gritty Navy squad and faltered, falling 7-6 after an EMO goal by plebe attackman David Little with 2:26 remaining to give the Midshipmen their first win over a ranked team since they shocked Hopkins back in 2012. Little, a fleet-footed NoVa native who has started on the attack since thriving in the fall, is certainly well traveled, going from Woodberry Forest (Va.) to Hill Academy (Ont.) to Navy Prep in Rhode Island. Fellow attackman Jack Ray, a 6-foot-6, 255-pound behemoth out of Mike Springer’s Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) program, led all scorers with a hat trick plus an assist to T.J. Hanzsche late in the game. The No. 7 PG according to IL’s Geoff Shannon, he’s got excellent hands and mobility for a player of his stature and often takes advantage of his large frame with a bevy of bull dodges. Navy will host Towson on Tuesday night before heading to Homewood Field on Saturday to try and top a 2-3 Hopkins that will be playing angry.
Speaking of the Blue Jays, their youth continues to thrive albeit in defeat. Freshman Patrick Fraser (Dexter School, Mass.), a former 3d New England standout who was more well known for his potential as a serious hockey prospect in net, has been terrific and was a force on Hop’s EMO unit (it was a penalty-ridden game) with four goals. Using his quick release on the catch and shoot, he’s finishing at a 54% rate and should be a candidate to see more PT than just the extra-man unit, especially considering the recent struggles of other Blue Jay midfielders. No. 2 recruit Joel Tinney broke through with a few pretty goals in the form of three goals and one assist, one of three Culver alums highlighted in Lax Magazine’s piece about the former Eagles’ weekend successes. He’s been an animal on groundballs, picking up 15 (including seven on Saturday) this season all over the field and acting as a key cog in transition. The Blue Jays will need to pick things up going forward: it’s hard to predict Petro sometimes, however there’s a possibility that he might give Brock Turnbaugh a chance. The Hereford (Md.) and Baltimore Crabs alum is the only other goalie to see minutes this year and might get the nod over Eric Schneider after the senior captain didn’t see the ball at all in their OT loss to Princeton. As for Fraser’s aforementioned goals, here they are courtesy of @LaxFilmRoom, a must-follow on Twitter.
The Tigers’ No. 10 recruiting class was on display in their exciting win, getting contributions from young bucks at nearly every position. With d-men Mark Strabo and Will Reynolds sidelined, San Ramon Valley (Calif.) grad Aran Roberts was inserted into the starting lineup and thrived against multiple matchups, getting two each in groundballs and caused turnovers. He fits the mold of an Ivy League defenseman with his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, uses his stick well and is rather impressive both on-ball and off-ball. I loved him in high school after some nice performances at Nike Blue Chip and with the Alcatraz Outlaws, putting him as a Top 40 defenseman in the Recruiting Issue, though admittedly was unsure about how much PT he’d get early on. On the other end of the ball, Culver product and Ontario native Riley Thompson had a huge assist to sophomore Gavin McBride on the game-winning goal and was a pleasure to watch with his two assists. Quick, crafty and intelligent, Thompson was the No. 59 recruit in August. At the face-off X, No. 19 recruit Sam Bonafede (Chaminade, N.Y.) used his tenacity and wings to win 13 of 23 despite being matched up against longpole Michael Pellegrino at times. He’s able to do a lot of things well, something that you’ll see in the highlight reel from his senior year for the Flyers in the video below. In addition, more from Lax Film Room: the two EMO plays that Thompson and McBride connected on.
A proven and productive pickup for Monmouth out of Southlake Carroll (Tex.), No. 38 ranked freshman attackman Bryce Wasserman pitched in a hat trick in the program’s first ever win, edging Rutgers 10-9. Three shots, three goals for the 6-foot-3 scorer coached in high school by Bart Sullivan, a former coach at Denver and Bellarmine (and another great follow on Twitter). He’s a player who could be a serious contributor at many different Division I programs but chose to do so on the shores of New Jersey to help build something under head coach Brian Fisher. Just take a look at some of the eye-popping goals that Wasserman, whose brother Casey is a talented 2017 commit to Furman, was able to put together as a senior for the Dragons.
At Detroit, former Gonzaga (D.C.) attackman Mark Anstead has been a big reason why the Titans have been able to win games over Ohio State, Robert Morris and most recently, Bellarmine. He’s now tied for third in the nation for freshman scoring with a team-leading nine goals and eight assists through five outings. On Sunday, he tallied three goals on assists (on five shots) and also caused a turnover. Anstead, who committed to Detroit over Monmouth over Mercyhurst, had a nice senior campaign, scoring 20 goals and 20 assists for the WCAC champions. A product of Blackwolf, he was sometimes overshadowed by then-juniors like Richie Petitbon and Timmy Monahan but was still a calming force at attack, showing off his high lacrosse IQ, vision and two-handedness. The Titans will host Mercer this week before a 10-day break leading up to a trip to Colorado Springs to play Air Force, led by freshman Chris Walsch.