Recapping The LI Elite 80, A Highly Unique Showcase Experience

With so many recruiting events out there, it’s a point of emphasis for each new one to provide something unique that sets it apart from the rest of the pack.

For the second straight year, Long Island-based Elite 80 hired 15 of the most respected Division I head coaches to pave the way, ultimately providing an incredible hands-on experience to attendees. With four head coaches each from the ACC, Big Ten and Big East – in addition to representatives from Yale, Fairfield, Hofstra and Loyola – it was certainly revolutionary to have these guys coaching the teams against one another. They were highly engaging and focused, but also kept things light, so the kids were able to really get a good sense of each head coach’s personality and coaching style.

The day began bright and early with a middle school division, as the players stretched, did stick lines and a talk about the goals for the day. From there, they jumped into four rotations of 20-minute skill sessions with the head coaches before playing three 40-minute games each. Though far away from today’s recruiting age, it was something that the young players had likely never experienced. What 7th grader gets to work with household names like John Tillman, Kevin Corrigan, Dave Pietramala, Bill Tierney and John Desko in the same day?

Things cranked up for the 2020’s and 2021’s, who went through the same regiments that the younger guys got to experience. Though players from host club Igloo and other top Long Island programs made up a solid chunk of the rosters, there were a multitude of standouts from places like North Carolina, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maryland. It’s an event that’s clearly catching on in just a short time, and it was really enjoyable to see an event provide a “bang for your buck” experience rather than just rolling the ball out for hours of game play. Kudos to Igloo directors Mike Faraone, Tony Alexander, John Calabria and Keith Cromwell for putting together an outstanding event – have a look below at some of the players that caught my eye throughout the day.

Aidan Mulholland ’21, M, Manhasset (N.Y.) / Igloo
Mulholland – who verballed to Michigan around the time of the rule change – is remarkably polished and savvy for a young player, displaying a phenomenal feel for the game. It’s clear that he’s put in the hours to work on his shot, as he had a number of beautiful tallies on the run. On top of that, his hustle and two-way play consistently stood out. He’s a kid who I had been hearing about for a while, so it was enjoyable to watch him perform and there’s no doubt that he’ll be a top name as his game continues to mature.

Chris Cappelmann ’21, F/O, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / Team 91 
Another disciple of The Face-Off Academy, Cappelman seldom lost – in fact, I can’t remember seeing him lose a clamp all night. He was hard-nosed and persistent going for the ball, often showing solid stick skills and decision-making with the ball in order to prove a big boost to his team. Though he drove opposing coaches crazy with his dominance, those same coaches were jotting down notes in hopes of securing his talents down the road.

Tommy Drago ’20, LSM, West Essex (N.J.) / Building Blocks
Perpetually a standout on the showcase circuit, Drago put together an excellent day on in front of a who’s who of college coaches. His motor and tenacity are two attributes that set him apart, as he’s extremely reliable getting the ball from the wings and is just as capable executing his checks to put the ball on the ground. Based off what I saw in drills, he’s very coachable and used what he was taught throughout Saturday’s games.

John Maccarone ’21, A, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) / Igloo
A pure scorer with a handle that was off the charts, Maccarone was mostly automatic within eight to ten yards of the cage, even showing range at times. He shot a considerable amount (so vision will be something he’ll have to work on) but also rode his tail off to get his team the ball back. You can just tell that he’s had a stick in his hands a ton, and that’s something that will carry him a long way.

Joseph Todaro ’21, D, Carey (N.Y.) / Icon
This kid was an animal, which makes me think that he’ll have ACC/Big 10 written all over him when the time comes. Todaro is huge, but he’s not good just due to his size. With that in mind, he moves impeccably and was a field general out there, directing traffic and often leading the clearing game. He was excellent off the ground and successfully limited some of the event’s top attackmen.

Andy Demopoulos ’21, G, Darien (Conn.) / Eclipse
Teams had serious issues getting the ball past Demopoulos on Saturday. He has ideal size for the position (especially considering his age) and has a wide base with rapid hand speed, allowing him not only to read shooters all the way but the ability to often control any rebounds. Playing at a Blue Wave program that has had a lot of success producing high-level Divison I goalies, Demopoulos is certainly one to watch going forward.

Anthony Alexander ’21, A, Syosset (N.Y.) / Igloo 
A crafty playmaker, Alexander made a habit out of putting himself in the right positions, constantly keeping his feet moving in order to make things happen. He had a few absolutely beautiful BTB’s, assembling a particularly high shooting percentage throughout gameplay. His finishing ability was some of the best I saw in the 2021 class, and he’ll only get better as he continues to develop his range and other aspects of his game.

Freddie Amato ’20, M, Huntington (N.Y.) / Legacy 
Coming from the same school that produced the Bratton brothers, Amato has an incredible ability to get his hands free for either a long-range shot or the “one more” pass after drawing attention. In addition to innate athleticism, he possesses 6’1, 170-pound size along with a strong left-to-right split dodge that he often went to. Just about every time that he was out on the field, Amato was producing the right play.

Will Shipley ’21, M, Weddington (N.C.) / Team Carolina
To put it in simple terms, Shipley does the kind of things that you would expect to see out of a player a few years older. He’s a ridiculous athlete who dodges with confidence, showcasing excellent hands, body control and stickwork on his way to the cage. I loved his knack for making plays in the middle of the field in addition to his yeoman’s work as a gritty defensive midfielder who frequently gave opposing dodgers fits as he played them tough from up top.

Michael Lynch ’20, M, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Igloo 
While many would say that the crop of 2021’s stole the show, Lynch was certainly one of the more consistently impressive 2020’s out there. He was just solid across the board with strong two-way play, routinely helping his squad with a key contest groundball or a timely goal. Lynch’s shot looked fundamentally sound, and he wasn’t afraid to let it go from long range.

Joseph Bueti ’21, M, Syosset (N.Y.) / Igloo
Matthew Nunes ’21, G, The Woodlands (Tex.) / Iron Horse
Vincent Gandolfo ’20, F/O, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) / LI Express
Charles DiGiacomo ’21, M, Fairfield-Warde (Conn.) / Boneyard
Kent Sato ’20, M, Syosset (N.Y.) / Igloo
Holt Matheis ’21, A, Darien (Conn.) / Prime Time
James Osorio ’20, M, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / Turtles
Andrew DeGennaro ’21, F/O, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) / Igloo
Collin Krieg ’20, G, Ward Melville (N.Y.) / Legacy
Rory Connor ’21, A, Manhasset (N.Y.) / Igloo
Ethan Larson ’20, LSM, Ward Melville (N.Y.) / Legacy
Emmett Houlihan ’21, M, Marvin Ridge (N.C.) / Team Carolina
Ethan Insinga ’20, A, Wantagh (N.Y.) / Legacy
Caden Hawkinson ’20, LSM, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) / Team 91
Nicholas Davide ’20, D, Sachem North (N.Y.) / FLG
George Panagopulos ’21, D, Friends Academy (N.Y.) / Igloo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s