A huge talking point this summer has been the notion that this Class of 2019 isn’t anywhere close to as strong in comparison to the previous classes. It’s controversial, but it’s a sentiment that isn’t crazy by any means – it became apparent as the summer went on that there just aren’t as many “can’t miss” prospects, or at least that’s how it appears halfway through their high school careers.
There’s plenty of high-end talent below, but these 17 recruits stand out as being the very best at the time. We’ll be watching as things change going forward, which is why a handful more five-star juniors will be named leading up to the beginning of the season in March. For now, have a look at the Class of 2019’s five-stars and check back next week for our RR’s complete Top 100.
RR’s No. 1 Recruit
Connor Shellenberger, A, Bullis (Md.) | Madlax | Virginia
It would have required an awful lot for another player to grab No. 1 honors from Shellenberger, who recently left St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.) for IAC power Bullis. Drawing comparisons to Matt Danowski, he does the majority of his damage from the top of the box and from the wings, showing the total package of explosiveness, shooting ability and the necessary intangibles. He’s a presence who shoots the lights out, but more importantly, makes the players around him better and doesn’t try to force anything. The US All-American is smooth and confident with the ball in his stick, developing significantly as a feeder over the past year, as he finished the spring with 70 goals and 51 assists. It’s not easy living up to the expectations that come with being named the top recruit in the class, but he’s done that, turning in phenomenal performances at places like the Naptown Challenge, Crabfeast and Under Armour. Constantly working on his game, Shellenberger will benefit tremendously from seeing top competition day in and day out.
The Best of the Rest
Scott Bower, LSM/D, Episcopal Dallas (Tex.) | Texas Mustangs | Virginia
To put it simply, Bower has many of the qualities that ACC coaches look for when it comes to a defenseman. He’s big with long arms, pressing out to attack ball carriers before getting the ball back over to his offense. Picking up All-State honors this past spring, he’s excellent off the ground and carries the ball with confidence. The Wahoos need a boost defensively and Bower is not only someone who can shut down opposing attackmen, but can make things happen in transition.
Kenny Brower, D, Massapequa (N.Y.) | Team 91 | Duke
A lefty with a mean streak, Brower had an excellent summer as 91’s defensive leader, thriving both 1-on-1 or away from the ball. He’s a technician who flips his hips and blankets his man at X thanks to excellent footwork, sneaky athleticism and awesome fundamentals. Coaches rave about his work off-ball, as Brower is constantly calling out slide packages and putting his teammates in the right spots. Young for his age (the Duke commit doesn’t turn 16 until before Christmas), he’ll transfer from Kellenberg Memorial to one of Long Island’s top public programs, where the coaching he’ll receive will only help.
Jake Caputo, M, Middle Creek (N.C.) | Team 91 | Duke
A well-rounded player who put up 51 goals and 19 assists for the state champs, Caputo’s IQ sets him apart from the rest of the players in his class. He’s able to contribute from the wings, at the top of the box on defense and as a smooth dodging midfielder who shoots accurately. Like any other young player, he’ll need to continue to work on his consistency, but there’s no doubt that he’s an extremely effective player at the club level.
Payton Cormier, A, Oakville Trafalgar (Ont.) | Mimico | PG, Virginia
Making a name for himself in Jr. A box, Cormier excelled with Mimico against players several years older, also thriving outdoors with the Edge program at the Naptown Challenge. He’s a big target who shoots accurately and is seemingly unfazed by anybody trying to stop him, making up for his lack of quicks with innate toughness and stick control. The first commit in the class, the senior will postgrad during the 2019 season — word is he’s strongly considered Hill Academy and IMG.
Connor Drake, A/M, Wilton (Conn.) | Team 91 | Duke
The only sophomore to make All-State in Connecticut, Drake largely played attack due to an injury suffered in hockey, finishing with 45 goals and 24 assists on the year. He’s an explosive, slashing dodger who projects as a two-way middie in college, making a number of beautiful plays this summer due to a strong shot on the run and great vision. A kid who is so impactful for his high school team, Drake does a fantastic job playing within himself at a high speed, so that has certainly translated well to club ball.
Ben Finlay, LSM/D, Gonzaga (D.C.) | SweetLax | Uncommitted
Arguably the most in-demand 2019 still out there, Finlay is considering schools like Notre Dame, Virginia and some Ivies after de-committing from Hopkins during a breakout sophomore season. While he’s somewhat undersized, Finlay compensates with a level of tenacity and relentlessness that jumps off the page. He’s consistently putting the ball on the ground at either position on defense, even helping offensively when the opportunity is there.
Will Frisoli, LSM/D, St. Sebastian’s (Mass.) | Laxachusetts | Ivy League
Though it’s easy to love his motor and playmaking between the ability, Frisoli’s ability to dominate at both close defense and LSM is what makes him such a high-end recruit. He’s physical and highly athletic with an active stick, either jarring the ball loose or plucking out of midair before darting upfield with the rock. Even as a sophomore, many ISL offenses wouldn’t go anywhere near Frisoli.
Owen Murphy, A, Avon Old Farms (Conn.) | SweetLax | Hopkins
One of the most skilled players in the class, Murphy recently switched club programs and has transferred from Medfield (Mass.) after a 90-point season. With an equal propensity for both scoring and passing, Murphy makes impressive plays on a regular basis thanks to an incredible feel for the game. He’ll need to add some bulk in the next two years and embrace contact, especially now that he’s in a rigorous NE West league full of grown men.
Liam Powderly, A, McDonogh (Md.) | Crabs | Uncommitted
Coaches have drooled over Powderly’s game over the years — unfortunately for them, he’s one of the best golfers on the East Coast and will likely play that sport in college. Intelligent and two-handed, he may not pass the eye test due to a lack of prototypical size, but knows how to run an offense and does nothing but make plays. In his first year as a starter, Powderly exploded for 54 goals and 31 assists as a sophomore.
Blake Rodgers, LSM/D, Bullis (Md.) | VLC | PG, Hopkins
Rodgers has progressed terrifically since committing to the Blue Jays, turning into a premier cover man that disrupts offense with his controlled aggression and precise checks. He showed no ‘off’ switch this summer, excelling at each event that he attended. Recently transferring from league rival St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Va.) for his senior year, Rodgers will provide the Bulldogs’ defense with a huge boost before leaving the region for a postgraduate year following graduation.
Bryson Shaw, M, Bullis (Md.) | Crabs | Maryland
If you’re on Shaw’s team, you probably love him. If you’re playing against him, you’re probably frustrated by his compete level and playmaking ability. A freak athlete, he may be raw from a lacrosse standpoint, though you wouldn’t know by looking at his 30 goals and 13 assists. Shaw likely projects at d-middie (think Will Haus, but bigger and faster) in the Big 10, though that’s only if he doesn’t accept a full scholarship offer from one of the many notable football programs pursuing him.
JJ Sillstrop, A, La Costa Canyon (Calif.) | West Coast Starz | Denver
A skilled left-handed scorer, Sillstrop helped the Mavericks to a San Diego CIF title and brought in US All-American honors in the process. He hasn’t played a ton of club ball after collarbone injuries, but is a highly effective wing dodger who will surely fit well into the Pioneers’ offense thanks to his crafty playmaking ability and off-ball play. Few young players out there are as important to their high school team as Sillstrop is, and the sky’s the limit as he continues to grow and develop.
Alex Slusher, A, Oregon Episcopal (Ore.) | 3d | Princeton
Another stud from the West who was named an All-American, Slusher is already extremely comfortable with the ball in his stick anywhere around the cage, often finishing with flair. He plays with a ton of energy and though he can be reckless at times, Slusher is deceptively athletic and essentially does whatever it takes to put the ball in the back of the net. Princeton’s putting together some great recruiting classes on offense, so the Oregon native won’t be asked to do everything when the time comes.
Jake Taylor, A, Regis Jesuit (Colo.) | Denver Elite | Denver
Plenty of spectators watching Taylor dominate this summer probably made the assumption that he’s Canadian, which isn’t totally crazy considering his skills in close. He may not have the ball in his stick for more than 30 seconds in a summer game, but that’s five goals to him, which he did in the Maverik Showtime ASG to snag MVP honors. A natural finisher, Taylor possesses unbelievable hands and has a general knack for scoring gained by playing gobs of box lacrosse throughout the year.
Gavin Tygh, FO/M, Penn Charter (Pa.) | Duke’s LC, Big 4 HHH | Virginia
The Class of 2019 is loaded with parity and talent at the face-off dot. While others may be more technical, it’s Tygh’s size, athleticism and well-rounded skill that puts him over the top. He’s always a threat to win the face-off (327 wins and 195 GB’s as a sophomore), but is constantly an active catalyst for the offense, finishing with 10 goals and four assists. Playing with the victorious Philly squad at the Under Armour, Tygh did a great job with draws but perhaps more notably, showed his complete game by doing a yeoman’s job at defensive midfield.
Dyson Williams, A/M, Hill Academy (Ont.) | Whitby Warriors | Duke
Most Canadians aren’t known for the wheels, and even more don’t have a NLL legend as their father. The son of six-time All-Star forward Shawn Williams, the Duke-bound scorer runs the field impeccably well and is almost always good for a multi-goal performance. The lean lefty doesn’t need the ball to score and is expected to put up big time numbers over the next six seasons with Hill, Whitby and Duke, especially if he puts on a few more pounds to prepare for the ACC.