10 Who Impressed At Last Weekend’s National Lacrosse Federation Summer Championships

nfl-logoA second year event on Long Island, the National Lacrosse Federation hosted a bevy of teams at Sachem North HS, effectively acting as many of the teams’ last tournament to cap the summer off. In addition to the NLF squads, several established programs made the trip to Suffolk County for a competitive two-day tournament that drew dozens of college coaches. Brackets were split into A and AA as coaches focused largely on 2018’s and 2019’s (we did too) as a final club evaluation for the summer. Have a look below at who caught our eye. 

Jack Ruddy ’19, D, Leading Edge / Hun School (N.J.) – Lafayette
There’s always a significant jump from rising sophomore summer to rising junior (yeah, shoutout to the new rules once again), and Ruddy is a posterboy for that in many ways. First off, he’s huge (somewhere around 6’4, I’d imagine) but his footwork doesn’t suffer because of his size, plus his long arms enable him to make an impact getting into the passing lanes. On top of that, he was brought up to the face-off X when called upon to tie guys up, doing just about anything asked of him as LE made it to the 2019 final.

Jack Monfort ’19, M, LI Express / Syosset (N.Y.) – Yale
Matthew Sluka ’19, M, LI Express / Kellenberg Memorial (N.Y.)
There are a lot of players on Express that have deserved credit over the last two years, but Monfort and Sluka are two highly capable and lesser known middies that impressed during both days. Monfort has some similarities to former Syosset and current Yale middie Lucas Cotler, but he’s more of a East/West dodger. His slickness was noticeable, executing some beautiful face dodges and undermoves to beat his man as he constantly made the right play. Sluka, who is reportedly a talented quarterback on the gridiron, can clearly shoot the hell out of the ball with range. There are some areas of his game he can work on (it wasn’t always pretty, but he was productive) but overall, he did a good job getting separation in addition to finding the open man coming out of his dodge.

Alex Gainey ’18, G, Laxachusetts / St. Sebastian’s (Mass.) – Holy Cross 
I was able to watch the LXC rising seniors a number of times and each half he played, Gainey looked superb. Coaches next to me commented on how he’s cleaned up his technique and generally looked more confident, and I’d tend to agree. He has ridiculous hand speed and robbed opposing shooters left and right (especially in a semifinal against Leading Edge), often keeping the Boston boys in the game. Don’t be deceived by the fact that he split time the last two seasons with another committed goalie – Gainey will probably be a multi-year starter once he arrives on the Crusaders’ roster.

Evan Zinn ’18, M, Express North / Staples (Conn.) – Hopkins
Declan McDermott ’18, M, Express North / Pleasantville (N.Y.) – Georgetown

Due to his size and ability to run the field like a gazelle, Zinn jumps off the page each time he steps onto the field, doing so once again with a stellar performance to lead Express North to a championship. He and McDermott each had two goals in the first half to build a strong lead, acting as constant offensive presences. The future Blue Jay is a load of North/South dodger who had no trouble getting his hands free for quality looks, unleashing hard and accurate shots. He has stellar hands, at one point pinging a shot off the pipe, catching it (and making it look easy) before dodging again. He put together a great summer and projects awfully well at the next level. McDermott played off of Zinn very well, and has a great concept of offensive spacing to set up his shots. He could take his man to the rack with ease, but was excellent without the ball in his stick. Georgetown’s done a good job with Section 1 offensive standouts over the years, so it would be safe to assume that McDermott is next up after switching his verbal from Holy Cross almost exactly a year ago.

Nick DeMaio ’18, A/M, West Coast Starz / Coronado (Calif.) – Boston U.
Playing on a WCS team that didn’t have a roster but consisted mostly of Under Armour West squad alums,  DeMaio is another player whose game has matured tremendously over the past year. He’s cleaned up the turnovers and has developed considerably as a feeder, leading the UA Highlight Division in assists a few weeks ago in addition to tossing a plethora of beautiful skip passes for dimes at the NLF event. Slick, crafty and always dodging with his head up, the Massachusetts transplant is part of a strong recent recruiting effort from Ryan Polley & company.

Connor Drake ’19, M, Team 91 / Wilton (Conn.) – Duke
Christian Mule ’19, A, Team 91 / Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.) – Duke
Ultimately winning the whole tournament, this pair of Blue Devil pledges really thrived offensively. Drake, ranked as the No. 3 player in last year’s class rankings, has somehow upped his game even more, showcasing himself as a fluid, cerebral and athletic playmaker who seldom erred. His outside shot is essentially unrivaled and there’s no drop off between his left and right, hammering it with elite wrists that allowed him to either ping corners with just a flick or throw fakes that made goalies move. Mule, meanwhile, has gained overall consistency. His best quality is his ability to create goals in the riding game or on groundballs, playing his tail off in the championship game. Duke has a ridiculous amount of talent in this class, and these two should help lead the way.

Michael Roche ’19, M, Laxachusetts / North Andover (Mass.) – Maryland
When you watch Roche, what sets him apart is how hard he competes – you can just plug him in and watch his motor go. He was often an one-man clear, flying down the sidelines or through the middle of the field and went hard to the rack. Roche has definitely worked on his offensive skill set, though he’ll have to continue to work on his right hand before he suits up for the Terrapins. I enjoyed just how hard he fought on groundballs and made other little plays that made a big difference.

HONORABLE MENTION
Jake Calnan ’18, D, Laxachusetts / Noble & Greenough (Mass.)
Jake Antonucci ’18, A, Laxachusetts / Westwood (Mass.) – Providence
Frank Marinello ’18, D, Team 91 / Chaminade (N.Y.) – Duke
Kyle Greenfelder ’18, D, Madlax / Paul VI (Va.)
Beau Pederson ’18, A/M, West Coast Starz / Park City (Ut.) – Princeton
Frankie Higgins ’18, LSM, Laxachusetts / Hingham (Mass.) – Bucknell
Brandon Meaux ’18, A, C2C / Episcopal Dallas (Tex.) – Villanova
James Ringer ’19, M, Team 91 / Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) – Rutgers
James Cipolla ’19, A/M, Big 4 HHH / Parkland (Pa.) – Ohio State
Cole Biggins ’19, D, Laxachusetts / Duxbury (Mass.) – Army
Jack Goller ’19, M, ADVNC National / Marin Catholic (Calif.)
Will Frisoli ’19, LSM/D, Laxachusetts / St. Sebastian’s (Mass.) – Ivy League
Chad Cannon ’19, M, Big 4 HHH / Salesianum (Del.) – Providence
Jake Engelke ’19, A, Leading Edge / Westfield (N.J.) – Holy Cross 
Sam Lutfi ’19, A, Team 91 / Massapequa (N.Y.) – Hofstra
Hudson Thomson ’20, A, Edge / St. Michael’s (Ont.) – Marquette
Kyle Stephenson ’20, M, Leading Edge / Voorhees (N.J.) – Rutgers
Evan Barr ’20, G, Leading Edge / Somerville (N.J.)
Jackson Bonitz ’20, D, Crabs / McDonogh (Md.) – Penn State
Brennan O’Neill ’20, A, Team 91 Crush / St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) – Penn State
Blake Erlbeck ’20, A/M, West Coast Starz / Torrey Pines (Calif.)
Miles Botkiss ’20, A/M, West Coast Starz / Torrey Pines (Calif.)
Henry Watson ’20, D, Texas Cowboys / Episcopal Dallas (Tex.)
Nick LiCalzi ’20, D, Team 91 Crush / South Side (N.Y.) – Navy
Jack Rigley ’20, D, West Coast Starz / Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Minn.) – Army

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