Recap Of The Top Players At Naptown Challenge

NaptownChallenge-logo-LEXUS2017.pngAfter just two years of existence, it’s safe to say that Naptown Challenge has turned into one of the most coveted opportunities on the summer club lacrosse circuit. Between putting the championship games on Comcast SportsNet and hosting them in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, it’s hard to top.

With so many outstanding summer tournaments out there, it’s all about what sets each one apart. Launched by former Division I head coaches Dave Cottle and Matt Hogan a year ago, Naptown Challenge took place close to the attractive Annapolis waterfront and had an unique format. On the first day, teams each played two games to determine seeding (Quint Kessenich hosted a seeding dinner that night) before a bracket was unveiled for the next day. With that said, nobody was out after the first day, creating a phenomenal Tuesday at Naptown before Wednesday’s championships on Navy’s home field.

In the end, the Annapolis Hawks 2018’s, Madlax 2019’s and Team 91 Crush 2020’s took home titles under the bright lights. Even days after, people raved about the experience.

“I think the opportunity for kids from all over – especially the ones from the Annapolis area who grew up going to games at Navy – to play in that stadium at 16, 17 and 18 years old sets it apart,” said Pat Hutchinson, the head coach of the Hawks, who helped them to back-to-back Class of 2018 titles. “It’s such a cool aspect and separates it from other tournaments. There’s so much talent at this event, so the fact that everybody’s alive on the second day makes for such a competitive tournament.”

Summer intern Reece Belcher and I were hand for all three days, spending a few hours watching the 2020’s before focusing mostly on the two oldest grades. Here’s who impressed:

Robert Schain ’19, A/M, Madlax / Bullis (Md.)
Schain added another stellar performance to his résumé, as he played the part of hero in the Class of 2019 championship game. While his play was impressive throughout the event, Schain saved his best for when it mattered most after being relatively quiet for the majority of the game. Down 9-7 to a stacked Edge team, he started the heroics by tallying on a Madlax EMO opportunity. Then, with under 10 seconds remaining in the game, he dodged from X, miraculously avoided a triple team and scored an unbelievable one-handed shot to send the game to OT. He capped the performance in storybook fashion, scoring the overtime game-winner before being swarmed in celebration by his teammates. There’s no doubt that he’ll be one of the marquee names that schools go after come September 1st.     -R.B.

Russell Maher ’20, A, LI Express / Mt. Sinai (N.Y.) – Syracuse
In a very lopsided 2020 championship game, Maher was the bright spot for his LI Express Terps squad. He makes his living from the wing, where he is a deadly time and room shooter and excellent feeder to boot. The lefty sniper primarily used a speed dodge from X to get above GLE and either sting a corner on a wraparound or find cutting teammates with pinpoint skip passes.      -R.B.

Connor Shellenberger ’19, A, Madlax / St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.) – Virginia 
Ranked No. 1 in the class, Shellenberger has continued to grow as a high IQ and dynamic dodger that constantly puts pressure on opposing defenses. A lot of teams have played the known commodity very well this summer, but he still makes things happen. Switching from Hopkins to hometown UVA back in the fall, he’s not your prototypical attackman who will dissect the D from behind, instead often sweeping across the top or beating his man off the dodge from the wings. Most importantly, he has a stellar shot (and has improved as a feeder), putting up three goals and an assist in the first half alone to help lead Madlax to an OT winner.      -T.X.

Kenny Brower ’19, D, Team 91 / Kellenberg Memorial (N.Y.) – Duke 
I tweeted earlier this month that college coaches have almost universally been underwhelmed by the 2019 class. Well, that’s not exactly the case when they watch Team 91’s squad and their 17 Division I commits, though they surprisingly went down in the quarterfinals. Brower’s the defensive leader (ranked 7th in the class), constantly showing a mean streak, ability to collapse on ball carriers as well as fundamentally sound play across the board. Most notably, the Duke commit had a takeaway to seal the deal in an one-goal battle with Thunder as time expired.     -T.X.

Nick Rowlett ’18, FO/M, FCA Maryland / Robinson (Va.) – Lafayette
The younger brother of current UNC standout defenseman Jack Rowlett, the Virginia native dominated the X for the entirety of the tournament and was a big part of FCA’s run to the championship. A guest for FCA over the weekend, he uses a combination of freak athleticism and exquisite technique to man handle his opposition. Unlike some face-off specialists, Rowlett is a trusted stick and a constant threat to score in addition to being a scrappy groundball machine.     -R.B.

Henry Rentz ’19, M, Annapolis Hawks / Severn (Md.) – Navy
I’ve been really impressed with the development with Rentz, a lefty who plays primarily with Laxachusetts and will be transferring from Thayer Academy (Mass.) to Severn this upcoming year. A lefty who was the ISL’s leading point-getting midfielder, he’s an excellent athlete who makes a lot of offense happen by rolling back to his strong hand, but is also a force down the alleys when he wants to be. It’s his versatility and two-way play that sets him apart, so he should fit in well in the MIAA.     -T.X.

Aidan Danenza ’20, M, Team 91 Crush / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.)
Danenza is a high-motor throwback two-way midfielder blessed with size, speed, and a rocket of a shot. He’s able to shine in both transition and settled situations, playing aggressive and physical defense but also painting corners with power for a potent Team 91 man-up. Danenza was terrific in the 2020 Championship, scoring several goals and dishing a pretty no-look assist to a cutting teammate. We could highlight the attack unit of O’Neill, Spallina and Arline (who was the game MVP) every event, but Danenza’s play at midfield was a can’t miss at Naptown.     -R.B.

Payton Cormier ’19, A, Edge / Oakville Trafalgar (Ont.) – Virginia
This was my first time watching the first commitment in the Class of 2019 in person and to get right to the point, the left-handed UVA verbal was phenomenal. He’s not going to beat you with his athleticism off the dodge, but instead with a big frame that he uses to his advantage. It also helps to have ridiculous mitts and ever-present grit, as he often would scoop a big contested GB and finish in traffic. Cormier, who will PG after this upcoming season (Hill and IMG are the front-runners), finished the 2019 championship game with five goals to cap off an incredibly productive week.      -T.X.

Zach Green ’18, A/M, FCA Maryland / Calvert Hall (Md.) – Maryland
The future Terrapin was excellent in FCA’s semifinal victory over True National, scoring a whopping five goals along with a couple of helpers. Green operated primarily from X, using shifty change of direction and smooth stickwork to finish several wrap-around goals. Green’s unique combination of athleticism, speed, scoring ability, and terrific vision make him a very fun player to watch. A natural attackman, he’s also become increasingly comfortable creating offense running out of the box for both Calvert Hall and FCA.     -R.B.

Ryan Siracusa ’19, A, LB3 Thunder / Centennial (Ga.) – Maryland
Siracusa, who committed to the Terps during the winter, was impressive during the Naptown Challenge with his ability to get his hands free despite constant attention. The lefty was excellent without the ball, but could shrug off contact or hit time-and-room shots with a rapid release. He was able to be a key cog on LB3 Thunder’s EMO unit and seemed to have a knack for scoring big, timely goals for his team, taking his game noticeably higher in just a year’s time.     -T.X.

Stevie Jones ’19, M, Madlax / South Lakes (Va.) – Villanova
Short-stick defensive midfielders never get the credit they deserve, but anyone who has watched Jones play knows just how much of an impact he makes every single time he steps on the field. He’s is nearly impossible to get by one on one due to his ridiculous footwork and blistering speed, which he showed with numerous punt return clears throughout the week. The Villanova commit is a force to be reckoned with in the clearing game and is quite skilled in transition, which he demonstrated in the ’19 final by feeding Robert Schain the game-winning assist.      -R.B.

Aleric Fyock ’18, G, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s – Penn State
Fyock was essential to the Hawks’ championship run and overall outstanding summer. Due to the fact that their D guys committed to UVA and Cornell, respectively, were injured, he constantly bailed out his short-handed backline time and time again with big saves. if not for him, they may not have been in that position. With a large frame and a wide base, he takes up a lot of the cage and constantly made eye-popping saves before getting it up and out to breaking teammates.     -T.X.

Honorable Mention
Evan Zinn ’18, M, Express North / Staples (Conn.) – Johns Hopkins
Garrett Leadmon ’18, M, Duke’s LC / DeMatha (Md.) – Navy
Sean Mooney ’18, A, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s (Md.) – Towson
Mike Sisselberger ’18, F/O, Duke’s LC / Southern Lehigh (Pa.) – Lehigh
George Walsh ’18, D, FCA Maryland / Calvert Hall (Md.) – Ohio State
Alexander Feldman ’18, A, Project Missouri / MICDS (Mo.)
Nick Williams ’18, A, Denver Elite / Conifer (Colo.) – Hofstra
Liam Bateman ’18, M, FCA Maryland / Loyola Blakefield (Md.) – Loyola 
Chase Cope ’18, M, Annapolis Hawks / Severna Park (Md.) – Navy
Patrick Burkinshaw ’18, G, Eclipse / Brunswick (Conn.) – Virginia
Kyle DeCrispino ’18, A, Zingos / Mt. St. Joe (Md.) – Drexel 
Jake Taylor ’19, A, Denver Elite / Regis Jesuit (Colo.) – Denver
Ricky Hoover ’19, M, True National / Wheaton-Warrenville South (Ill.) – Hobart
Andrew Stanzel ’19, LSM/D, 3d Denver / Highland Park (Tex.)
Christopher Perrino ’19, D, Express North / Yorktown (N.Y.) – Cornell
Alex Slusher ’19, A, 3d Denver / Oregon Episcopal (Ore.) – Princeton
Ian Krampf ’19, A, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s (Md.)
Ethan Grandolfo ’19, A, Express North / Fairfield Prep (Conn.) – Air Force
Graham Bundy ’19, M, Project Missouri / MICDS (Mo.) – Georgetown 
Angelo Petrakis ’19, F/O, Team 91 / Massapequa (N.Y.) – Lehigh 
Dodson Piotrowski ’19, D, Madlax / South Lakes (Va.)
Mason Reale ’19, A, Eclipse / Fairfield Prep (Conn.) – Villanova
Anthony Forziati ’19, A, Fighting Clams / Wakefield (Mass.)
Quintin O’Connell ’19, A, Eclipse / New Canaan (Conn.)
Ryan Haigh ’19, A, Edge / Etobicoke Collegiate Institute (Ont.) – Cleveland State
Gareth Haigh ’19, G, Edge / Etobicoke Collegiate Institute (Ont.) – Cleveland State
Sam Lutfi ’19, A, Team 91 / Massapequa (N.Y.) – Hofstra
Jack Neill ’19, M, LB3 Thunder / Pace Academy (Ga.) – Lafayette
Logan Falconetti ’19, A, Annapolis Hawks / Salesianum (Del.) – Lehigh
Vinny Mata ’20, LSM/D, 3d Denver / Regis Jesuit (Colo.)
Justin Brown ’20, M, Team 91 / Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.) – Michigan 
James Ball ’20, F/O, LI Express / Chaminade (N.Y.) – Navy 
Xavier Arline ’20, A, Team 91 Crush / Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.) – UNC
Ricky Amorim ’20, D, Duke’s LC / Academy of the New Church (Pa.) – Providence 
Liam Fairback ’20, M, LI Express / Iona Prep (N.Y.)
Jonathan Salamone ’20, D, Igloo / Mineola (N.Y.)
Gabe Goforth ’20, M, Freedom / Bishop Shanahan (Pa.) – Maryland 
Russell Melendez ’20, A, FCA Maryland / Archbishop Spalding (Md.)
Michael Mauricio ’20, A, Eclipse / Brunswick (Conn.)
Will Tominovich ’20, D, Annapolis Hawks / St. Mary’s (Md.)
Josh Carlson ’20, A, Denver Elite / Arapahoe (Colo.)

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