2019 Standouts From Saturday’s Big 4 Champions League

CTYZ0vkWsAAg3xsAfter a wildly successful weekend in 2014 that saw dozens of freshmen raise their stock, the Big 4 program grew this year’s event by a handful of teams and moved it north to Hill School in Pottstown north of Philadelphia. Between the 2017’s and 2018’s (highlighted on Monday night here) plus the freshmen on Sunday, a total of 79 coaches attended Champions League this year. Have a look below for 12 members of the Class of 2019 that impressed, as well as additional names that deserve mentions.

Alex Breschi, M, FCA Maryland / Loyola Blakefield (Md.) `
I was looking forward to evaluating Breschi (the nephew of UNC head coach and Blakefield alum Joe Breschi) after his commitment to the Tar Heels and came away extremely impressed after Saturday. He’s a horse in the middle of the field, consistently scooping up contested groundballs and then chugging upfield to spark his team in transition. Had some nice swim moves in traffic as a strong overhand shot on the run.

Connor Drake, M, LI Express / Wilton (Conn.)
According to his club coach, “the whole world wants Drake” and based on his performance at Champions League, it’s particularly easy to see why. He can go right-to-left and left-to-right with equal propensity, creating separation with an elite first step and an awesome shot on the run. He has excellent body control and even did the dirty work, picking up contested groundballs between the lines.

Gavin Tygh, F/O, HHH / Penn Charter (Pa.)
It’s a phenomenal group of 2019 face-off men, though Tygh proved on Saturday that he’s likely the best. Bound for Virginia, he popped it forward to himself with relative ease and just as impressively, showed a great knack for scoring goals off the face. Tygh has deceptive upper body strength to gain leverage on his man and terrific hand speed. This kid will be a nightmare of a matchup in the Inter-Ac the next four years.

Nicholas Fulgenzi, LSM/D, Edge / Hill Academy (Ont.)
This Canuck was a joy to watch. Fulgenzi has a considerably active stick, allowing him to put it in the passing lanes, snag interceptions and push the ball upfield to a plethora of Edge’s offensive options. Defensively, he pressed out to make life difficult for opposing midfielders, using his body well when the ball was on the ground. Fulgenzi got a little overzealous at times carrying into traffic but is a really polished LSM overall who did a lot of things well.

Robert Schain ’19, M, Madlax / Bullis (Md.)
What I appreciated most about Schain’s game was that he was routinely willing to go through the teeth of the defense to finish scoring opportunities. When smoothly dodging the alleys, he demonstrated an accurate and hard shot on the run that goalies had issues reading. He was incredibly impactful between the lines and also showed a prowess with time and room shots.

Brett Mallee, LSM, HHH / La Salle (Pa.)
Reminding me a bit of Maryland longstick midfielder Matt Neufeldt, Mallee had arguably the most impressive showing of the 2019’s that I evaluated at Champions League. Stalking midfielders from sideline to sideline executing hard and precise checks, his motor was fantastic and allowed him to be a critical part of HHH’s success. Headed to College Park in a few years, he scored several times on Saturday after a GB on the wing, including a beautiful shovel shot that drew a big reaction from the crowd.

Christian Mule, A, Team 91 / Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.)
Set to visit Duke and UNC this coming weekend, Mule played excellent lacrosse on Saturday to boost 91. His stick work and IQ are superior, as it’s easy to tell that he has a high understanding of the game and where to be. In the riding game, he worked his tail off and also picked up GB’s in all sorts of situations. On a few occasions he’d catch a pass, rapidly switch hands and score all in one fluid motion in front of the cage.

Daniel Kelly, A, FCA Maryland / Calvert (Md.)
It may sound crazy to highlight a 2020, however it would be just as crazy to leave him out due to how dominant of a scorer he was. Currently an 8th grader at Calvert School, he’s the next up in the well renowned Kelly family to stand out for the Calvert Hall lacrosse program that his father runs. More of a crafty off-ball finisher Daniel is slightly different from the rest of his cousins (and older brother, Jacob), relying on superb play in the two-man game and an innate understanding of offensive spacing. Tallied three goals against HHH, including the game-winner.

Tyler Sandoval, F/O, LI Express / Chaminade (N.Y.)
Yet another prodigy of the Face-Off Academy, Sandoval came into the weekend with a great reputation, further cementing it by controlling possession for Express in a major way. He boasts really strong technique, uncanny hand speed and the ability to put the ball just about anywhere he wanted. After the face, Sandoval showed great stick skills and made proper decisions with the ball. From what I hear, his recruitment has picked up significantly recently.

Zach Lee, D, HHH / Penn Charter (Pa.)
Lee’s size is what catches everyone’s eye at first and then you watch him more and more, realizing how much he brings to the table. Standing at least 6-foot-3, he’s rangy and stays all over his matchup’s hands wherever he is on the field. In addition, his footwork was second to none, allowing him to keep up with attackmen big and small playing strong position D. Loved how he’d just sit down in his stance and give his man fits.

Henry Rentz, M, Laxachusetts / Thayer Academy (Mass.)
An outstanding athlete, Rentz floats between the lines with his speed and endurance, making critical plays for a Laxachusetts squad full of high Division I prospects. I enjoyed some of his hustle plays as well as his exceptional stick work on his way to the rack. Rentz demonstrated an explosive first step and a great reportoire of dodges to beat longsticks and d-middies alike. He played strong lockdown defense and was also a force in the clearing game.

Frankie Ciniglio, D, Team 91 / Ward Melville (N.Y.)
Ciniglio is one of several standouts on the defensive side of the ball for Jim Mule’s Team 91 team. Tough as nails, he was able to lock down touted opposing attackmen by playing his angles well close to the cage, using his stick impeccably and ultimately thriving while clearing the rock upfield. There were some times he tried to do too much in transition so he’ll have to tone that down but jumped off the page otherwise.

OTHERS WHO IMPRESSED
Ethan Grandolfo, M, Express North / Wilton (Conn.)
William Godine, M, FCA / Gilman (Md.)
Matthew Gunty, F/O, FCA / Sidwell Friends (D.C.)
Jack Sawyer, M, FCA / Calvert Hall (Md.)

James Cipolla, M, HHH / Parkland (Pa.)
Chad Cannon, M, HHH / Salesianum (Del.)
Cameron Magalotti, M, HHH / Wilson West Lawn (Pa.)
Deven Varney, G, Laxachusetts / Roxbury Latin (Mass.)
Will Frisoli, LSM, Laxachusetts / St. Sebastian’s (Mass.)
Peter Blake, LSM/D, Laxachusetts / St. Sebastian’s (Mass.)
Christopher Kirschner, M, Leading Edge / Hunterdon Central (N.J.)
Stelio Kanaras, G, Leading Edge / Pingry (N.J.)
Harrison Berke, D, Leading Edge / Johnson (Tex.) – Johns Hopkins
Sean Derby, D, LI Express / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.)
Dylan Pallonetti, M, LI Express / Ward Melville (N.Y.)
Colton Teitelbaum, G, LI Express / Locust Valley (N.Y.)
Will Cory, A, Madlax / Episcopal (Va.)
Tucker Wardell, M, Madlax / Georgetown Prep (Md.)
Jack Brennan, A, SweetLax / Irondequoit (N.Y.)
Logan McAnaney, G, SweetLax / Corning (N.Y.) – Maryland
Ben Finlay, D, SweetLax / Gonzaga (D.C.) – Johns Hopkins
Jake Caputo, M, Team 91 / Middle Creek (N.C.)
Greg Campisi, LSM, Team 91 / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.)
AJ Galassi, G, Team 91 / Port Washington (N.Y.)

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