It’s time for the first NLF high school rankings of the season!
Long Island Catholic powerhouse St. Anthony’s takes home the top spot to start us off, but the difference between the Friars and St. John’s (D.C.) is splitting hairs right now. Brunswick (Conn.), Culver (Ind.) and McDonogh (Md.) round out the top five, and there’s an in-depth breakdown of all five of those teams.
Make sure to keep it locked here throughout the year as we’ll be bringing you game stories, interviews, highlights, photos and more!
NLF Top 25
1. St. Anthony’s Friars (N.Y.) – Schedule
When we last saw the Friars, they put the finishing touches on a thrilling 12-11 win over rival Chaminade in the CHSAA Class AAA championship game. NLF No. 1 ’21 and Team 91 Long Island alumnus Andrew McAdorey is now plying his trade at Duke, where he’s arguably the top freshman in the country. Despite that, the Friars are loaded to the gills.
Offensively, it’s NLF No. 3 ’23 Owen Duffy (North Carolina) and four-star ’22 Michael Leo (Syracuse), a pair of Team 91 products, who are the headliners. Leo put up 40 goals and 10 assists last year and Duffy was balanced with a 25-24-49 stat line. Duffy is an athletic QB type who can beat you as a passer and a shooter, while Leo is a lefty slasher capable of playing attack and midfield. They’re joined at attack by another 91 guy in NLF No. 40 ’23 Jack Speidell (Harvard), whom coach Keith Wieczorek thinks can be the perfect complement to Duffy and Leo and a terrifying option to cover with your third defenseman.
“I think he’s going to have a great year,” Wieczorek said of Speidell. “He’s a smart player and doesn’t try to do too much.”
Offensive Depth For Days
St. Anthony’s features all juniors in its first two midfield lines, led by NLF No. 72 ’23 Jackson Greene (Team 91 / Harvard), Pat Carragher (LI Express / Penn State) and lefty Jack Ponzio (Team 91 / Navy). All three bring something different to the table, but one thing’s for sure – it’s going to be really hard to cover all three as they can all score in bunches. Junior Jordan Naso (Holy Cross) will handle the bulk of the faceoffs.
It’s hard not to be enamored with the offensive talent, but Wieczorek also loves the fact that he’s got a pair of rock-solid goalies in the cage in Will Snyder (LI Express / Fairfield) and Kevin Barrett (Team 91 / Boston University). The pair split games last year and held up very well, and it’s entirely possible that they’ll do the same unless grabs the job outright.
“Both of them were battle-tested last year and both improved a lot, and that’s a big confidence builder for me,” Wieczorek said. “I don’t have any questions with them.”
Stingy Defense for the Friars
Guarding the cage in front of them will be a strong, seasoned group. Seniors Max McCarthy (LI Express / Harvard ’23 after a PG year) and Colin Langton (LI Express / Army), along with juniors Luke Martin (Team 91 / Johns Hopkins), Kevin Kearns (Team 91 / Michigan), Jaiden Jenkins (LI Express / Penn State) and Glenn Platania (Team 91 / Quinnpiac) make up a very solid group. NLF No. 47 ’23 Cole Aasheim (LI Express / North Carolina) had a spot cemented in the starting lineup, but he’s out for the year after tearing his ACL.
“Losing Aasheim hurts a little bit, but we’ve got a lot of bullets back there and nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Wieczorek said.
The Friars get underway March 18 and 19 with a North Carolina road trip that features games against Cardinal Gibbons and Charlotte Catholic. There are a pair of dates with Chaminade on April 13 and May 3 – probably safe to pencil them in for a third one in the CHSAA Class AAA title game again – with a ridiculous nonleague schedule highlighted by a battle with No. 2 St. John’s (D.C.) on April 22. If they make it to the end of the season at No. 1, they will have absolutely earned it.
2. St. John’s Cadets (D.C.) – Schedule
The Cadets are already staking their claim to No. 1 with a pair of very impressive wins over Georgetown Prep (Md.) and Boys’ Latin (Md.). NLF No. 60 ’22 Luke Rhoa (Crabs / Syracuse) has been unstoppable with nine tallies in two games, including a five-spot against the Lakers. St. John’s has so much offensive talent around him, though, that it makes it impossible to key on Rhoa. Seniors Mac Haley (Navy) and Gavin Kelly (Drexel), as well as five-star sophomore Ryan Duenkel, are a formidable attack line. Kelly’s an elite shooter, Haley will likely lead the team in assists and Duenkel can do both, but coach Wes Speaks raves about something besides their offensive gifts.
“We put a considerable amount of focus in the riding game in 2021 and those guys saw the return almost immediately,” Speaks said. “We talk about being defense-focused and for us, that starts with the ride. Those guys work very hard on the ride and they’re thinking, ‘let’s get the ball back right now.'”
Running alongside Rhoa on that first midfield are sophomore John Draley and senior Mount St. Mary’s commit Kevin Whitty. Speaks is enamored with Draley’s two-way ability and relentless motor, while, “the offense runs better whenever Kevin’s out there because he always makes the right look.” NLF No. 34 ’23 Jackie Weller (MadLax / Michigan) will make sure that the Cadets frequently have the ball with his dominance at the faceoff stripe.
Elite Defense for the Cadets
The Cadets might be even stronger on the back end. NLF No. 11 ’23 Caleb Fyock (Crabs / Ohio State) is a big stopper and an even bigger personality. He started as a sophomore and played beyond his years. Now, he’ll be tasked to take the SJC defense to even greater heights.
“Caleb is a lot of fun. He’s a free spirit and a wonderful kid, and we’re very fortunate to have him,” Speaks said. “I think that having a big personality only helps him. He has a strong relationship with so many kids in our program.”
NLF No. 51 ’22 Riley Figueiras (Syracuse) and Richard Checo (Lehigh), the latter of whom won’t be unranked in the final ’22 rankings, are excellent. Junior Riley Chai-Onn (Crabs) slides in to that third spot, while Vincent Trujillo (Syracuse) might be the best SSDM in the country.
That date with St. Anthony’s on April 22 looms large as part of a stacked schedule. Will the Cadets’ strong senior class put them over the top?
3. Brunswick Bruins (Conn.) – Schedule
There might not be a more talented team on paper in the entire country.
It’s actually downright comical how skilled the Bruins are. There really aren’t any discernible weaknesses, and there’s so much star power at every level. The list of Bruins commitments reads like the U.S. News & World Report rankings. There’s depth in every class.
So, is this the year that they can put it all together? Last year was supposed to be one of the Bruins’ best teams, but they tripped up to then-unranked Lawrenceville and couldn’t quite topple a pair of top-5 teams in Deerfield (Mass.) and Malvern Prep (Pa.).
But man, looking at this team…
“On paper, I’d say it rivals 2018, and 2018 and 2017 were our best two years,” coach David Bruce said. “We have a lot of depth. There’s not a player on the roster that you can’t put in there and that wouldn’t be starting for a lot of other teams. They’re great kids who want to learn, and it’s really fun to coach them.”
The defense is loaded to the gills. NLF No. 5 ’22 Charlie Johnson (Prime Time / Duke) and NLF No. 35 ’23 Hunter Spiess (Princeton) are locked in to spots down low, with NLF No. 71 ’23 Luke Michalik (Prime Time / Yale) and five-star sophomore Luke Hublitz (Eclipse) gunning for that third spot. LSM Will Donovan (Notre Dame) would be a five-star if ’22 rankings were updated today. The lefty pole is so dynamic and so influential in the middle of the field that he makes teams rethink their offensive strategy. Georgetown commit Luke Schlank (Prime Time) is steady in the cage and should be even better in his second year as a starter.
Jets Out of the Midfield
The Bruins are gonna score some goals, too, and there might not be a starting midfield line that can rival Brunswick’s. NLF No. 2 ’23 Leo Hoffman (Team 91 LI / Penn) and NLF No. 7 ’23 Tomas Delgado (Prime Time / Duke) are incredibly explosive and give the Bruins a pair of dynamic scorers. Junior transfer Will Erdmann (Eclipse / Virginia) is another one who brings great speed and a hard shot on the run, while Owen Guest (Harvard) will be an exceptional SSDM. Seniors Myles Spiess and Chris Gaine, as well as sophomore Payton Anderson (Prime Time), Will O’Connor (Michigan) and Andrew Donovan (Notre Dame) help make Brunswick’s midfield arguably the deepest in the country.
Five-star sophomore Hudson Hausmann (Eclipse) is a gifted offensive presence who could reap the benefits of playing around those guys. NLF No. 38 ’23 Andrew Greenspan (Prime Time / Notre Dame) saw a ton of action last year and is the guy at the faceoff stripe. He’s an excellent technician who can also make plays after the win.
A Big Mystery
Henry Caponiti (Prime Time / Georgetown) is one of the most intriguing players in the country this year. A big, powerful lefty with deceptively good feet, he’s much leaner than he was early in his career, but still a lot to handle at around 215 pounds. On the down side, he’s been besieged by injuries throughout his career and hasn’t played for Brunswick since his freshman year. If the future Hoya and the NLF’s No. 10 ’22 can reclaim his scoring touch, look out.
Caponiti will be joined at attack by juniors Jackson Wolfram (Prime Time / Brown) and Will Coale (Eclipse). Only Wolfram was out there for the Bruins last year, but all three are significant threats from behind the cage and if they can mesh well, Brunswick’s attack production will match its midfield.
4. Culver Eagles (Ind.) – Schedule
It would be concerning to many, but it doesn’t appear that Jon Birsner has any qualms about it.
Whenever Michigan-bound senior LSM Jimmy Pisani is off the field to get a breather, Culver doesn’t have a senior on the field on the defensive end of the field. Most times, that’s cause for some uncertainty and discomfort for a coach. The Eagles are not most teams.
“There are times where we’ll have (NLF No. 27 ’23) Rowan Clay (Michigan), (junior) Zach Mesa (Lehigh) and (high-end sophomore) Nikolas Menendez out there in front of Colin Vickrey (Princeton), but it’s really not a problem,” Birsner said. “Those guys are really good.”
From the looks of it, Culver’s going to be a problem and not just this year. Usual starter Adam Blind (Resolute / Harvard), the NLF’s No. 6 ’22, is dealing with injuries. In steps Vickrey, who’s now backed up by ’24 five-star Tade Wynn (West Coast Starz). Goaltending is, uh, not a problem for the Eagles.
Explosive Offense Could Fuel the Eagles
You’ll see some magic at the other end of the field, too. Culver has an all-underclass Canadian attack with sophomore Aidan McDonald, the No. 1 pick in the recent British Columbia Junior A League, at X. No pressure, but…
“He’s the best high school feeder that I’ve seen in a long time,” Birsner said.
McDonald is surrounded by junior Nick Roode and Gabe Sorichetti (High Point) at attack, and that group will do damage. The Eagles’ biggest strength, though, might come in the form of their starting midfield line. NLF No. 30 ’22 Griffin Scane (Penn) is the headliner, but NLF No. 40 ’22 Haydn Sommer (Team 91 Maryland / Air Force) is a super-athletic movable chess piece. He also can let it fly with the best of ’em, while elite sophomore Luke Macaluso (Team 91 Maryland) is a very crafty attackman by nature who’s playing midfield after starting at attack as a freshman.
High-end sophomore Luke Warrington will see increased responsibilities at SSDM – expect him to get out and run a little more on offense – while a pair of talented underclassmen in sophomore Spencer Reagan (West Coast Starz) and freshman Tay Rodriguez will handle the faceoff duties.
True to form, the Eagles will be battle-tested with a very difficult schedule which includes a Baltimore / DC Eastern swing against McDonogh, Boys’ Latin, Bullis and Gonzaga, as well as a game against Hill Academy (Ont.) to highlight the regular-season.
5. McDonogh Eagles (Md.) – Schedule
There have been some very good teams in McDonogh’s way over the years, but it’s still surprising to see that the Eagles haven’t climbed to the top of the MIAA mountain since 2016. Before that, they hadn’t triumphed since 2005. McDonogh seemed to be in place last year, but the Eagles fell to upstart Boys’ Latin, who completed an incredible run by taking home the title.
The pieces are there for Andy Hilgartner‘s group to change that this year, and if the Eagles are going to do it, it’s more than likely going to be led by McCabe Millon. The NLF’s top prospect in the ’23 class and part of a ridiculously loaded Duke class, Millon put up 52 points last year. With more games and a higher comfort level, it’s not hard to imagine that he could flirt with double that amount as a junior.
“He’s such a dynamic player and I don’t have enough words to talk about the skills that he possesses as a player, but it’s been really great watching him evolve as a leader and seeing him take charge,” Hilgartner said. “He does it in a great way where it’s not arrogant or condescending, but it’s just trying to help our team.”
Not Just a One-Man Show
Millon will have plenty of talent around him, too. High-end sophomore Luke Miller‘s got the lefty spot on lockdown after starting as a freshman. Hilgartner loves his skill level and toughness. In the other spot? It was supposed to be Millon’s little brother, Brendan, one of the top freshmen in the country, but he broke his foot and will be out indefinitely. In steps Jack Raley, a Bellarmine commit who plays midfield for the Crabs 2023 team. Raley’s finishing ability and understanding of where to be means that he should be very productive as the third attackman. Tre Moore, a junior Boston University commit, will also see time at both midfield and attack.
The midfield could be special, though. NLF No. 18 ’22 Matt McMillen (Crabs / Penn), NLF No. 54 ’22 Hugh Brown (Crabs / Loyola) and big-time sophomore Ben Firlie (Team 91 Maryland) are going to keep goalies busy. McMillen can dodge and shoot with either hand, Brown is a problem in transition and Firlie might be the best shooting middie in the 2024 class.
Good Luck Scoring On These Guys
The defense? Also loaded. NLF No. 23 ’22 Jonny Cool (Team 91 Maryland / Ohio State) is excellent at LSM, as is his understudy Paul McLucas (Team 91 Maryland), a lefty takeaway artist who’s also taking faceoffs until Zach Hayashi (Crabs / Navy) returns.
They’ll play alongside NLF No. 46 ’22 Malachi Jones (Team 91 Maryland / Virginia), NLF No. 18 ’23 AJ Marsh (Crabs / Navy) and Aidan Hurdle (Navy). That’s an absurdly-talented group that will make life miserable for offenses, especially with Jones’ footwork, Marsh’s size and game-changing ability and Hurdle’s stickwork. Senior Anthony Wilson (Crabs / Villanova) is a dependable keeper in the cage with great size.
“Anthony takes up a fair amount of space and he’s got good hands, clears very well and makes saves that he should and he’ll steal you a couple,” Hilgartner said.
A stacked senior class and some impressive talent across the board will make the Eagles a very tough out once again. Is this the year where they’re snapping their title drought?
Rounding Out the Top 25
6. Calvert Hall (Md.)
7. Haverford School (Pa.)
8. Mount Sinai (N.Y.)
9. Deerfield (Mass.)
10. Boys’ Latin (Md.)
11. Salisbury (Conn.)
12. Chaminade (N.Y.)
13. Darien (Conn.)
14. Taft (Conn.)
15. Lawrenceville (N.J.)
16. Archbishop Spalding (Md.)
17. Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)
18. Manhasset (N.Y.)
19. Hill Academy (Ont.)
20. La Salle (Pa.)
21. Malvern Prep (Pa.)
22. Garden City (N.Y.)
23. Belmont Hill (Mass.)
24. Ridgefield (Conn.)
25. Radnor (Pa.)