NXT Philly Freshman Showcase 2015: Standouts

NXT Philly Freshman Showcase 2015: Standouts (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)
NXT Philly Freshman Showcase 2015: Standouts (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

The NXT Philly Freshman Showcase, held the weekend before Thanksgiving at the United Sports complex in Downingtown, Pa., lived up to expectations as the fall’s most exciting recruiting event with lots of talent on hand and plenty of colleges coaches there to see it.

We spent the entire day Saturday trying to see as many of the 16 teams as possible so we could see as many players as possible — those teams represented a mix of players, more than 300 in total, who were all invited to the event for 2019s.

Green Fab 40 All Stars (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

We saw about two-thirds of the teams, and then later in the day we watched the King of the X competition and then, after that, the Fab 40 All-Star game, which most certainly featured some of the best players competing that day.

White Fab 40 All Stars (Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Particular props should be sent out to Lance Tillman (Valor Christian, Colo./3d Colorado, FCA), who was named MVP of the event and then committed to North Carolina not long after, and to Conor Calderone (Smithtown West, N.Y./Laxachusetts), a Maryland commit who battled his way to victory in the face-off competition.

Below is a look at some of the players who stood out at the event. This isn’t meant to include every “standout player,” but a sampling of those who we saw perform well. We will have another big report from the second day of the NXT event in the coming weeks.

Alex Slusher, Attack, Oregon Episcopal (Ore.)/3d Oregon

Slusher showed well over the course of both days, but particularly on the first day of competition at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase. An ambidextrous attackman who can make decisions very quickly and is a threat in a variety of ways, Slusher is aggressive and asserted himself at the event as a creator who can score off of different dodges. Like we saw over the summer, Slusher will ride hard through every opportunity. His athleticism is increasing and that helps him in all aspects of his game, especially his dodging, which is noticeably more developed than the last time we saw him. He can piece together two, perhaps even three, dodges on a take and looks mechanically sound doing it. In his first game of the event, Slusher scored something like four times, including the first goal of each half right off the bat — again showing no hesitation in going to the cage when he likes the matchup. One of his goals saw him use a roll dodge at X, then get topside, roll back inside and finish. One of his other goals saw him get topside, highlighting that as a strength for him. Another saw him grab the rebound off one of his own shots and use his quick hands to slip it past the goalie with little room or angle. In the All-Star game, Slusher scored three times that we saw, including finishing a pass through the middle with time and room. He scored on a drive to the interior that saw him get through with a defender getting all over him, and he finished with an improvised low-to-low flick to finish the play. Another goal saw him push the ball over the goalie’s shoulder after driving hard to his left. He would go on to have a good showing the next day with the 3d National team.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Peter Davies, Attack, Dover Sherborn (Mass.)/Laxachusetts

Davies put on yet another big time performance at the NXT event, again standing out for his mix of size and awareness as a player who dominates the low post against defenders in this class. Davis stands at about 5-foot-11 and has a big, thick frame, and he uses that to his advantage. As we’ve written already this fall, the lefty’s stick skills are very refined and he handles it like it’s a fiddle stick. He can pull out shots from low angles, uses his body to get separation or an angle as he leans into his man and almost uses the defender’s weight against him by rolling off and dipping underneath. Like most good attackman, Davies appears to have his eyes up and on the play at all times, including on the ride, where he is aggressive and opportunistic. He can fight for loose balls and whips the ball to teammates right off the bat or used his somewhat surprising burst to immediately make his defender play him outside. A couple times, we saw him end up with the ball way outside of the box with his defender out there too, and it gave him the chance to show that he could exploit that situation by quickly sprinting to the cage and essentially forcing the defender to check him. He can shield the stick well thanks to his height and reach, and again, always keeps his eyes up. His shot is authoritative and accurate, with him burying a high percentage of the shots we saw him take at the event, including in the All-Star game, where he had at least three goals and an assist. He scored his team’s first goal, tucking his stick and dodging from the wing, getting his way inside and scoring with his right. He scored his next goal by catching and immediately face dodging, getting his big body quickly into the interior and finishing with ease. He scored a short time later with an inside roll. I recorded lots of notes on Davies from the earlier part of the day, including observations from at least one other multi-point outing that saw a defense struggle to account for him. What I keep coming back to is the way I saw him hustling play after play to make things happen by sprinting up the field to meet the ball on the clear, going right at his man and finishing every shot with authority. He also sold out completely to race to a loose ball and a shot off the pipe to keep possession for his team. Those are parts of his game that will keep him in the upper echelon even if others in his class might be able to close the gap on his size and power in the next four years.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Garrett Nilsen, Attack, St. Mary’s (Md.)/Annapolis Hawks

Nilsen emerged as one of the most effective attackman at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase: a skilled lefty with a quick first couple steps, excellent carrying and dodging abilities and a relentless approach that made him a part of a great many plays. Nilsen carries the ball with his head up and gets his hands back into passing or shooting position fluidly in his dodges. His style feels like a quarterback, as he can have a stick on him and keep the stick back and look to pass or dodge. But then you see how he attacks once he closes in and he has the slasher feel to him. He can finish and though he’s not necessarily the bulkiest player, he looks fearless and determined when he does turn the corner or get that inside positioning on his man and then bolts to the cage. In the All-Star game, Nilsen scored a great looking goal, catching a pass, taking it into a face dodge and then tucking the ball in the top left corner as he fell past GLE. Earlier in the day, he shined in a game that saw him score at least twice and assist on at least one goal. He is dangerous from the wing spot and below GLE, as he can get his speed up and dodge inside, or he can pressure to topside. His first step can be pretty explosive and before you know it he has a step and separation to get his hands up. He easily scored driving to his left from GLE with a sidearm shot from little angle. He then carried and pumped a good feed inside for an assist. On EMO, he slid up top and was a threat to shoot and pass. After the EMO, he ended up swinging high to get the ball, stepped in, stepped back to get space, lost his man, and then stepped back down to yank a sidearm blast to the top shelf. Nilsen has really got a lot of tools to make him a bright attack prospect this early in his high school career.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

JT Stirpe, Attack, Vestal (N.Y.)/Orange Crush

Stirpe showed himself as a high-IQ, skilled and quick attackman who can feed and score off the dodge and has an excellent stick that’s hard to keep up with. He carries with an intensity and he moves the stick fast in his hands. And one thing that’s noticeable is that he can change hands effortlessly, which helps him makes the most out of the most basic of dodges. He’s very slippery and he goes hard to the cage and looks to feed before he commits to getting to the cage. And he does consistently find ways to break down a defender, with a quick change of direction, a split and the ability to release the ball from low angles on the run. We saw him put together a multi-point game early in the day, first assisting on a goal in front by carrying with his head up, going hard at his man and rifling a short pass on the money. He scored a goal by bursting to his left off a hitch, jumping and banging the ball inside the far post just a couple yards above GLE. Stirpe rides like crazy, and he helped make life tough on a number of clears for the opposing team. He helped break up one that to a goal because of his efforts. He is slippery, good off the ground and can make plays rapidly in set offense and unsettled scenarios. He sees the field and anticipates the action. He makes a lot of plays, some of them without the ball in his stick, to help his team.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Lance Tillman, Attack, Valor Christian (Colo.)/3d Colorado, FCA - North Carolina

Tillman, who has shined as far back as 3d Blue Chip last January, had another strong outing at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase, garnering MVP honors that were handed out just before the Fab 40 All-Star. The ambidextrous, slippery attackman is a matchup problem thanks to his strong stick skills, his quick change of direction and, like a few other standout attackman in the class, a rapid-fire approach to dodging and working his defender. We didn’t get to see him leading up to the All-Star game, but he performed well in the Fab 40 event. Tillman scored a goal that displayed his shiftiness, as he got himself into a close shooting spot and beat the goalie with overhand bounce shot to end the first half.

Canyon Birch, Attack, Manasquan (N.J.)/Upstate

Birch showed himself to be a dangerous attackman who has more explosiveness than it might appear. It allows him to get a step on defenders thanks to a nasty burst and he has a quick release and hard shot to make him a threat immediately when he goes to the goal. In the All-Star game, he used that approach to take it from X, easily slicing a top-shelf shot from a low angle as the defense had to collapse to him. Birch pulled off one of the nicer looking dodges, using a hard jab to go right at his man, accelerate and then pull back just as he got past GLE, smashing the pipe with his heavy right-handed shot. It was still a great looking move that showed how hard it can be to cover him. It looks like his shot might have some range too. He knows how to use his body to get his hands safe and into shooting position and let it fly. Birch goes hard on the ride and after ground balls and when he dodges he doesn’t shy away from the contact, instead using his body to protect the stick as he redodges into open space.

Mitchell Moyer, Attack, Archmere Academy (Del.)/NXT

Moyer stood out at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase event not only as a big, right-handed attackman who can overpower a defender, but also for his skills with the stick and scoring abilities. The big man shined in the early goings of the round robin games, scoring his first goal we saw on a take from X that saw him burst to top side. He then scored a great looking goal by sprinting from the back corner at his man and then rolled to his right, taking it right into a jump shot that smacked inside the far post. You don’t see attackmen of his size pull off moves like that all the time, so it speaks to some upside he has a mobile dodger. He moves really well, and mixing with his good size, it makes him a matchup challenge for any defender in his peer group. But he also can body up and his stick skills make him hard to cover.

Konrad Knaus, Attack, Sandwich (Mass.)/Laxachusetts

Knaus has emerged this fall as a skilled, good sized right-handed attackman who can score in creative ways with his high level stick skills and willingness to make a play. He showed some soft hands on a few feeds from teammates inside. But yet Knaus showed his physical toughness and abilities by dropping a big hit on one of the larger, more athletic midfielders at the event. He scored a gorgeous goal in the Fab 40 All-Star Game, pushing his way in from near the island, seeing the double, swimming through it and then pushing the ball into the top left corner, nearside, for a great finish. He also came up with a groundball, showing hustle and then the common sense to protect his hands and turn out of the pressure, keep his head up and reset the play. Knaus intrigues as a good sized attackman who plays with a high IQ and generates plays thanks to his determination, use of his body and stick skills.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Henry Rentz, Midfield, Thayer Academy (Mass.)/Laxachusetts

Rentz really shined at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase as a two-way midfielder with an incredible motor and sense for making plays on defense and in the open field, along with more frequently occurring examples of excellence on the offensive end. An athletic midfielder with good speed and a nose for the ball when it’s not in his stick, and a nose for the cage when it is, Rentz is able to stand out by helping cause turnovers through good short-stick defense or getting it off the ground and then creating transition the other way. We saw the righty put up at least a hat trick in an early game, while also playing short-stick defense. One of his goals saw him tip-toe with speed down the alley and keep his stick up and out for a big release on the run. Another saw him come up with the ball high in the box, sense the goalie and defense were unsettled and then stepped down with a blast. The other we saw in that game was an odd one-timer-like shot inside the far post off a feed inside. He showed he can score in a lot of different ways thanks to skill and athleticism and confidence. We saw him come up with a one-handed groundball and push the stick out in front away from pressure as he sprinted up the field. In the all-star game, Rentz’s array of talents were on display, including playing some of the best short-stick defense in that game, matching feet with dodging or sweeping middies up top. He scored on a one-timer, finding the lower left with a quick finish. He also had an assist in that game. From where we stand, has proven himself as one of the brightest two-way midfielders we’ve seen at recruiting events so far in this class.

Connor Mitchell, Midfield, Buford (Ga.)/Thunder - Ohio State
Grant Mitchell, Midfield, Buford (Ga.)/Thunder - Ohio State

The Mitchell Boys were again the buzz on the sideline at times throughout the weekend. The play of these 6-foot, 180 pound twin brothers appears to continue to improve, as these twins grow into their big frames and their lacrosse skill develops. With that, their confidence has improved and it’s helping them do things on the field most of the other players in this class probably cannot. Both of them had their moments on Saturday at the Philly Freshman Showcase, and both of them rose to the occasion after being selected to the Fab 40 All-Star Game. Grant let go of a tremendous shot on the run going down the right side of the defense, popping the top left with startling accuracy and power. He later broke up a fastbreak for the other team. Connor pulled off one of the most head-turning plays of the All-Star affair, getting the groundball after a one-handed caused turning and then rumbling down the lane to beat two slides and get close to the cage for an easy goal. He also scored on a heavy-duty step-down bounce shot. At times, these two have appeared unstoppable among their peers in the 2019 group. They would go on to tear it up on Sunday during the NXT Philly Freshman team invite as well.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Jack Howe, Midfield, Pleasantville (N.Y.)/LI Express

Howe, who shined as an eighth grader on varsity last spring, had a strong showing in the play-in rounds based on what we got to see. The athletic, right-handed midfielder brings a lot to the field as a dodging/shooting midfielder and when coming off the face-off wings. You had to like how he looked coming out of the box too when his team subbed out and he came onto the field and immediately drew attention given his presence atop the box with his speed and size. One of the goals we saw him score came as he caught a pass across the top of the defense, hitched and then went to his right and took into a big winding jump shot that bounced and beat the goalie high. The combination of his build and fluid dodging, along with his year of varsity experience, makes him a prospect for some of the top college programs at this early stage.

Collin Almeida, Midfield, Falmouth (Mass.)/Laxachusetts

Almeida was selected to the All-Star game and then shined there. He scored his first goal by catching a feed inside, handling the stick even with one hand to pull back and score in tight quarters. He would later score a goal by driving hard from X, getting a step to get free and scoring on the move as he crossed above GLE. Almeida is a smaller player than some of the other middies in the class at something like 5-foot-8 and probably 150 pounds. But he is skilled, fast and executed when he started a play. He gets really low when he dodges and then rolls smoothly out of it back to his right and keeps his head up to feed after drawing a slide or a show thanks to his quick burst on the dodge. He also can shoot on the run or pull up to use his quick release with more momentum if he’s got a little bit of room.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

John Schreiber, Midfield, Iona Prep (N.Y.)/Long Island Express

Schreiber continues to show that he is a tough midfielder who can get his job done on both sides of the field — a tall, strong player among his peers and one who’s shown better skill throughout the fall. What might make him so effective is that he’s unselfish, and when he’s carrying, he looks more often to be passing. We’ve been able to see over the course of the last few weeks that, even in that short time frame, Schreiber has gotten better and dumping the ball off when dodging to his right up top. He forces defenses to honor him because his size is a tough matchup for most midfielders in this class, and he gets his hands up high and flicks it back inside. He did this numerous times in one game, setting up his teammates. But he will go to the rack when he gets his momentum going, and that’s hard to stop because of his big long legs and broad build. We saw him score more than once by overpowering a defender down the alley. He’s got to be close to 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 now. And the fact he will roll back to his left makes him more dangerous; he went to his left and scored with a hard-snapping bounce shot earlier on (his second in that game). The one play that maybe sums up Schreiber so far for us: when one of the best LSMs at the event knocked the ball out of his stick, Schreiber battled for it to get it back and set the team back up on offense. He’s one of the hardest working kids on the field every time we watch him. He made numerous plays on defense and in the middle of the field to get the ball to his team.

Immanuel Brown, Midfield, St. Vincent Pallotti (Md.)/Baltimore Breakers

Brown was one of the more athletic players on the field, fast in the open field and quick when initiating from atop the box. He turned a lot of heads with some really powerful shots — he pulled back and released with ferocious snap and got serious velocity. He hit the side of the cage twice and had everyone watching making noises as he displayed what had to be one of the hardest shots at the event, and he was bringing it from pretty far out. But then he pulled back and put a wicked shot right by the goalie’s feet with that same velocity. Coaches noticed. When you think about the speed he showed, and then the shot and the power and the placement, it was easy to see him as a prospect to explore in this early stage of the game for the 2019 class.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Cooper Higgins, Midfield, Lovett School (Ga.)/Thunder

Higgins had an excellent weekend at the NXT event, showcasing his speed and ability to make plays in the middle of the field and create transition. But he is also a scoring threat on offense thanks to his athleticism and shooting abilities. Higgins is fast and showed it by coming up the field with the ball a few times and pulling away from other players. Higgins also has a really hard shot, something he displayed by pulling back and scoring on an off-hip blast from out on the wing. In the All-Star game, Higgins showed his speed was as good as any at the event.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Conor Calderone, FO/Midfield, Smithtown West (N.Y.)/Laxachusetts

Calderone was our favorite to win the King of the X contest at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase, and he ended up winning it. His hands are extremely quick and he can win it to himself out front and show off that burst to make defenses immediately respond to him. He won his draws by other means though, as we observed over the course of the day. He can use more than one approach or at least can improvise in those dusty battles at midfield to squirt free with the ball. The Maryland commit is just explosive and low to the ground and it allows him to win races to a loose ball if he doesn’t win it himself. He sprints, he scraps, and he comes away with the ball in a lot of the open field battles between him and other draw men. He had to do that on a few attempts in the King of the X contest. Calderone is one of Greg Gurenlian’s face-off athletes and had maybe his best weekend of a strong overall November at the NXT event.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Andrew Tyeryar, FO/Midfield, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Va.)/MadLax

Tyeryar stood out in the round robin games at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase and then went on to make the Fab 40 All-Star Game, where he also showed well. He’s a gritty, relentless draw man who we saw win a bunch of draws throughout the day. He showed that he was a threat out the front door if he successfully pushed the ball to himself, and that could lead to an instant numbers advantage for his team. He might not have looked blazing fast carrying down the middle, but he persevered and really made the defense react to him. He tended to bounce his right-handed shot on the run, which made it harder for goalies to deal with him. Tyeryar was one of the last four guys battling during the King of the X event at the event too, proving he was among the top draw men there in terms of skill at the position.

Ryan Niggeman, LSM, Haverford School (Pa.)/Mesa Fresh

Niggeman showed himself to be an aggressive, fast and relentless presence in the middle of the field, especially coming off the wings during face-offs. He’s got a likable, thick, low-to-the-ground build that mixes well with his quick feet to make him an ever-present pest in between the lines. His shoulders make him appear one of the stronger, meatier LSMs we are seeing so far in the class. We watched him throw a long-distance clearing pass on the money out of his own zone. We watched him fly down to help double a skilled attackman coming from X who had a step, putting the ball on the ground and coming up with it himself. We watched him send a player to the turf with an aggressive forearm shiver, highlighting his physical strength and the power on his checks — also the hard-nosed way he plays. In that same game, he collected what might have been his third or fourth caused turnover and/or groundball, pressing out up top, checking the ball to the turf and then going after it like a wild man to scoop and sprint up the field. He also has a motor to go with an athletic and, again, more sturdy build than some of the other fleet-of-foot LSMs running around in this class. In the Fab 40 game, we watched him accelerate to an opposing player who got the ball off the draw and hang him up to stop the break. He will hunt the ball down on the field and try to make a play in those scenarios. Niggeman had an excellent overall showing at the NXT Philly Freshman Showcase as a high-intensity player who is constantly working to get the ball from the other team.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Will Frisoli, LSM, St. Sebastian’s (Mass.)/Laxachusetts

Frisoli continued an impressive fall run with an excellent showing at the NXT event as a smooth, athletic long stick who is just so hard to beat and a fluid, reliable presence in the middle of the field in groundball scenarios and coming off the wing. He is so balanced and quick moving his legs and running at angles of pursuit. He keeps his stick up and ready to chop and it’s as ball carriers simply cannot get rid of him. Add that he looks like has strong legs and a strong core based on how he moves and you can see him as a highly sought after LSM prospect in this class. He has a good handle on the stick, displays hockey-like characteristics in ground ball scenarios and has a nose for the ball, whether its on the ground or in another player’s stick. He had coaches buzzing most times he made a play. In terms of pure one-on-one skills, Frisoli is one of the more difficult LSMs to dodge against for the most athletic players we’ve seen try it out. He will simply glide on an arch up top, heckle and run them out of space or hang them up.

Sean Derby, LSM, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.)/Long Island Express

Derby probably deserved to be highlighted prior to now, as he’s been someone we’ve noticed and taken notes on numerous times. He’s already showed himself to be a hard-nosed longstick midfielder who can scrap in the middle of the field and has the athleticism and effective stick to make some impressive plays. He is tenacious and physical and he just has a look about him; you could tell us he works construction or security at a scrap yard and we’d believe it. He seems pretty tough, and his play supports that but also speaks to a player who is usually in control of his stick and his body when he’s making plays in the open field or helping in a scrum. His checks aren’t wild, but placed well and he’s using his body at the same time so it helps him in a variety of ways. He makes a lot of plays off the wing, and he can be a tough defender to beat to the inside because he’s tough to budge. He’s another low-to-the-ground long pole who can be a nuisance for a ball carrier and is fearless in the open field. He is still raw in some ways, but he has quietly put together an outstanding 2015 at a number of events we’ve attended.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Scott Bower, Defense, Episcopal School of Dallas (Texas)/Texas Mustangs, 3d - Virginia

Bower’s athleticism and size continues to make him one of the brighter defense prospects in this class. At 6-foot-2 and possessing excellent speed in the open field, Bower is a rare find given how athletic he really is and that was on display at the Philly Freshman Showcase against many of the best 2019s we’ve seen so far. Bower’s size and balance allows him to press out on ball carriers, which he does particularly well at GLE and below, where many players have a hard time getting topside on him. What tends to happen is he will back down a player, the player will try to redodge or roll away and Bower will basically just stay draped on him, hang him up and the ball will be on the ground. When the ball is on the ground, Bower’s reach and long legs help him goose it to space and he’s generally pretty smooth scooping through and taking that into momentum to go up the field. We saw him pull off the caused turnover/groundball combination numerous times Saturday. Maybe one of his best moments came when one of the more dominant, large attackman tried to drive topside, and Bower — who plays football down in Texas — turned him back. Off the ball, Bower got his stick up to stop a couple of passes on Saturday.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Frankie Ciniglio, Defense, Ward Melville (N.Y.)/Team 91

A fundamentally sound, gritty, athletic and skilled defender, Ciniglio had an excellent showing in the Fab 40 All-Star Game after being selected to compete among the best at the event. He made a number of plays to send the ball back to his team’s offense, including breaking up a pass on a fastbreak. He would later show a good handle on the stick through traffic while clearing out. Ciniglio is good on his feet and showed that by doing a good job of staying with some of the talented attackmen in the All-Star Game. He got a little aggressive out near the edge of the box a couple times, but you could see that his speed allowed him to recover to some degree. He created transition more than once in that game, both collecting a caused turnover or two and also at least a couple ground balls.

Edward Lynch, Defense, Deerfield Academy (Mass.)/Fighting Clams

Lynch stood out as a tall, strong and controlled defender who used his height, reach and strength to tie up the ball carrier, especially if the offensive player slowed his feet. Lynch could quickly neutralize most ball carriers by swarming the player and then smothering and forcing him to move the ball on or lose it. Lynch can develop better speed and on-ball footwork versus faster, more explosive dodging attackman. But he was skilled in getting the ball off the ground and up the field, where you could see his legs moving pretty quickly. With his size, he was hard to stop when he came up with a groundball and got his momentum going.

Quentin Matsui, Defense, Eden Prarie (Minn.)/Team Minnesota

Matsui is a strong, controlled and athletic defender with an intimidating look to him and good, solid position defense. In the All-Star game, Matsui displayed this by getting all over the hands and keeping his squared position against some talented attackmen. He’s got good reach and looks physically fit, strong and balanced. If you watch his approach, you’ll notice he gets his hands really low, as well as his body, so he’s right under the player’s hands. Even though he looked like he was close to six feet tall, he got really low and kept attackmen off their desired angle on my takes. He was clearly focused on his fundamentals and his approach and that made him really effective against some of the best players at the event. His reach helps him easily get a stick out on the hands while keeping his hips square to the ball and while still keeping that low stance.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Treyton Schug, Defense, Cazenovia (N.Y.)/Orange Crush

Schug had a good weekend at the FLG in 3d event and then really shined at the NXT Philly Freshman showcase a weekend later. A tall, physical and skilled defender, Schug can cover ground and harasses the ball carrier with his size and ability to get the stick all over them. He has good hands and easily scooped through on a few ground balls and got himself moving up the field. He showed good anticipation on one series, intercepting a pass to a cutter on the interior. He is reminiscent of another longstick midfielder/defenseman who came out of Cazenovia within the last year. He’s got a lot of upside thanks to his long, rangy build but with some strength and grittiness to go along with it. He can still enhance his on-ball footwork, but already looks like a strong defensive prospect early on.

(Photo: Casey Vock, 3d Rising)

Henry Bethel, Defense, Gilman (Md.)/Baltimore Breakers

Immediately standing out for his imposing size, Bethel also projects as a high-level athlete who looks like he’d be a prospect in a variety of sports, standing something like 6-foot-4 already and able to take long, bounding strides that would make anyone want to turn back the clock and be young again. His span — on par with some of the biggest defenders in college at the moment — makes it an immediate challenge for any attackman to dodge on him. Because he is nimble, he does a good job of keeping with a hard-dodging, fast attackman by keeping his stick out there. Trying to pull back for room to pass was even tough as Bethel can just get in their face. He did get himself into trouble a few times against attackmen who are larger and could work from a post-up position. But that was only because the opposing players got him hung up inside. He was very, very hard to beat out on the perimeter. He caused a turnover in the all-star game and took the ball up the field himself, which led to a quick goal for his team.

Stelio Kanaras, Goalie, Pingry School (N.J.)/Leading Edge

Kanaras had one of the better single-game performances we witnessed at the event. The unassuming righty made about a half dozen saves (maybe more) in one half we saw, which would have been good enough for Fab 40 honors in our opinion — and he was selected for that engagement. He was outstanding, showing his quick reflexes to pop to the ball even when on the opposite side of his body. He’s on the small side, but we’ve seen some others with a similar build already recruited by colleges. While the smaller, young goalies are typically good on low shots (somewhat naturally), Kanaras tends to stand pretty tall on the high shots too, and his hands just sort of accept the ball. In the morning games, one of his best saves saw him turn to his left just in time to meet a shot from the door step from a wide open cutter, a bounce shot from just a yard away. It was his third or fourth save of the game that was really impressive. He ate up two powerful high shots from the opposing team’s better midfielders. In the Fab 40 game, he turned aside a low twister shot that came from close range.

 

Hailing from Upstate New York, Casey Vock is the manager of 3d Rising. Before joining 3d Rising, he spent three years at Inside Lacrosse, where he was a full-time writer for Inside Lacrosse Magazine, InsideLacrosse.com, ILIndoor.com and ILGear.com covering all facets of the game. He was named the editor of ILGear.com in November 2012 after helping launch the site a year earlier. Prior to joining Inside Lacrosse in Baltimore, Casey was a freelance writer in Upstate New York covering professional, college and high school lacrosse for Inside Lacrosse, as well as writing for the Press-Republican newspaper in Plattsburgh and other media outlets. Casey played lacrosse in high school at Indian River and went on to play at Jefferson Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and business from SUNY Plattsburgh, an MBA from Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management and an MS in media management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse. Reach him by email at cvock@3dRising.com and follow him on Twitter @cvock.