With Annapolis acting as a rare summer circuit host, the first ever Naptown Challenge was a massive hit to all attending clubs, hosted by former Division I coaches Dave Cottle and Matt Hogan at multiple high schools in the vicinity of Maryland’s capital. South River HS (2018), Annapolis (2019) and Kent Island (2020) all hosted pool play on Monday and Tuesday, while championship participants were lucky enough to play in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on Wednesday evening.
In addition, games were broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet with commentary from Evan Washburn and Quint Kessenich. FCA Maryland ’20s, Team 91 ’19s and Annapolis Hawks ’18s captured titles, with Long Island Express, Hawks and Duke’s LC also making appearances in the title game.
Acting as one of the last team tournaments of the summer, the event is expected to take off in the coming years, though the pool of teams was incredibly impressive in year one. I attended for two of the days and put together a list of the top players in the classes of 2018 and 2019.
Danny Maltz ’19, A, SweetLax / Riverside (Va.)
Jack Brennan ’19, A, SweetLax / Irondequoit (N.Y.)
Along with two other future Terps on the SweetLax 2019 roster, this pair will productive working together for years to come. What’s impressive is that they’re equally adept at carrying the ball or working off-ball, and play off each other well whether they’re working at X or from the wings. Brennan set himself up nicely with some nice cuts, question mark dodges or other crafty moves to get to the island. Maltz, meanwhile, was a calming presence and could pick apart defenses with key feeds but was ample in the riding game and with textbook catch-and-shoot finishes as well.
Chase Cope ’18, M, Annapolis Hawks / Severna Park (Md.)
It was my first time evaluating Cope’s play and I walked away extremely impressed, as did a number of local Division I schools hoping to lock down his services. He’s able to shoot the lights out and demonstrated a crafty, savvy dodging style, even sending home a beautiful ‘hockey’ goal in the championship game on TV. Cope almost always went right-to-right down the alley but even so, opposing defenses had trouble stopping it, specifically because of his outstanding vision and knack for throwing skip passes for assists.
James Shipley ’19, M, Team Carolina / Weddington (N.C.)
With an elite first step, Shipley had tremendous shake and a split dodge that longsticks had trouble keeping up with all throughout Tuesday’s games. In addition, he’s athletic enough to be a key cog in ‘punt return’ clears, thriving in transition offensively to boost his team’s play. There’s no doubt that he’s a player who could fit into a Top 20 program, especially as he continues to work on his shot mechanics and commits himself to the weight room.
Michael Grogan ’19, LSM/D, Madlax / Episcopal (Va.)
The 2019 class is full of outstanding LSMs and Grogan, who is still uncommitted, is towards the top of the list. Though slightly undersized, he put on a great display at Naptown with a noticeable motor, precise checks and interceptions in clutch situations and strong wing play. Though Grogan does his best work in between the lines, he could also bump down low to make an impact, putting the ball on the ground with a pretty over-the-head check or two. Expected to find a collegiate home soon.
Logan Falconetti ’19, A, Annapolis Hawks / Salesianum (Del.)
Garrett Nilsen ’19, A, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s (Md.)
Guiding the hometown Hawks to a championship berth, Nilsen and Falconetti impressed working together on the attack end. A future Buckeye, Nilsen is still working on his ability as a carrier but was remarkable off-ball and finishing, displaying soft hands inside and shot accuracy. The lefty was impactful, also using his frame to his advantage to do the dirty work when the ball was on the ground. Falconetti had the ball in his stick more and turned the corner incredibly well, driving the right side to put up a bevy of points throughout. Once he works on some decision-making, I’d imagine he’s a guy that coaches in the upper half of Division I will continue to give some attention.
Bradley Simas ’18, M, 3d New England / Berwick Academy (Me.)
Seeing what Simas was bringing, there were a number of college coaches disappointed to find out that he’s a Hobart commit. Possessing a strong and athletic build, he was a tough kid between the lines and at times, manhandled shortsticks and longsticks alike with his ability to put his shoulder down and create offense. Though productive, there’s no doubt he’s rough around the edges in some ways, but will only continue to develop as he plays two more years before heading off to play for Greg Raymond.
Christian Mule ’19, A, Team 91 / Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.)
Sam Lutfi ’19, A, Team 91 / Massapequa (N.Y.)
The 91 attack unit started to click significantly more when this pair of hard-nosed lefties were out there pairing up. Headed to Duke and Hofstra respectively, Mule had an unbelievably productive Tuesday finishing during the playoff run, while Lutfi notched a hat trick in the championship game at Navy on Wednesday evening. Their chemistry was enjoyable to watch, as they both created scoring opportunities and deflected stick and body checks on the way to the rack.
Daniel Parker ’19, M, LI Express / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.)
Continuing his momentum from a weekend with the UA Long Island squad, Parker flourished with his explosiveness out of his dodges, becoming an important piece of Express’ offense throughout the tournament. He made things happen out of the invert and could score in bunches using physicality and strong footwork whether he initiated from up top or from X. There were times that he was overly flashy and lost the ball, but often made up for it with a gritty contested GB or big play during the ride.
Kyle Long ’18, A/M, Duke’s LC / Springfield-Delco (Pa.)
Headed for Maryland, it’s easy to tell that Long’s a kid who has been given a great deal of his responsibility during the spring, winning a state title with the Cougars in 2016. He’s one of the better midfield feeders that you’ll find on the circuit, so it’s no surprise that he lined up on the attack end at times to stay on the field and toss out pretty assists. When dodging to score, he was consistently effective and even showed a relentless on the ride.
Owen Murphy ’19, A, 3d New England / Medfield (Mass.)
MacGregor Peterson ’19, A, 3d New England / Taft (Conn.)
A strong 1-2 punch for Matt Rowley’s 3d NE squad, these two worked impeccably each other in the two games I watched them. I came over mostly to watch Murphy, a known commodity who verballed to Hopkins in September, and on his first touch he threw a gorgeous spot feed to a cutting teammate for a goal. He had an awesome field sense and IQ, impeccable hands and amazing footwork. Peterson, meanwhile, has impressed this summer with his off-ball play to set up his shots. I liked how he had bounce in his step during his dodges but also how he took the initiative to use his big frame to score while backing his man down.
Andrew Tyeryar ’19, F/O, Madlax / St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Va.)
Playing with the 2018s, the Michigan commit was crucial to the success of a team that was decimated by missing players competing with their HS teams in another event. He timed the whistle perfectly and used his rapid hand speed, seldom losing the clamp. There were times he made it look easy and took it to the rack, but was as steady as you can ask for in providing Madlax key possession advantages when I watched them on Monday.
OTHERS DESERVING A SHOUTOUT
Lance Tillman ’19, A, 3d Colorado / Valor Christian (Colo.) – UNC
Mark Hand ’19, M, 3d Colorado / Briarwood (Ala.) – UNC
Jack Ocken ’18, M, 3d Tri-State / Brunswick (Conn.) – Yale
BJ Burlace ’19, D, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s (Md.) – Maryland
Aleric Fyock ’18, G, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s (Md.) – Penn State
JQ Stramanak ’18, LSM/D, Annapolis Hawks / Spalding (Md.) – Cornell
Andrew Arth ’19, A, Blue Star / George School (Pa.)
Michael Carroll ’18, A, Blue Star / Christian Brothers (N.J.) – Bucknell
Griffin Aslanian ’19, D, Blue Star / Westfield (N.J.) – Georgetown
Peyton Jefferson ’18, D, C2C / Allen (Tex.)
Mason Marano ’18, FO/M, C2C / Greenhill (Tex.) – Delaware
Mike Sisselberger ’18, FO/M, Duke’s LC / Southern Lehigh (Pa.) – Lehigh
Hunter Jaronski ’19, D, Duke’s LC / Academy of the New Church (Pa.) – Hopkins
Declan McDermott ’18, M, Express North / Pleasantville (N.Y.) – Georgetown
Brady Keneally ’18, D, LI Express / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) – Hopkins
Emmett Barger ’19, A/M, Madlax / St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.)
Brian Wilmans ’19, F/O, Madlax / Bullis (Md.)
Will Sterrett ’18, G, Madlax / St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Va.)
Anthony Pezzimenti ’18, M, SweetLax / Victor (N.Y.)
Sean Donnelly ’19, A, SweetLax / IMG Academy (Fla.) – Syracuse
Larson Tolo ’18, LSM/D, 3d New England / Phillips Andover (Mass.)
Matthew Elder ’18, A, Team Carolina / Lake Norman (N.C.) – Hofstra
Greg Campisi ’19, LSM, Team 91 / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.)
Kenny Brower ’19, D, Team 91 / Kellenberg (N.Y.) – Michigan
Gerard Kane ’19, A, Thunder / Lambert (Ga.)
Cooper Higgins ’19, M, Thunder / Lovett (Ga.)