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NLF High School Coverage from Last Week
Culver 12, McDonogh 7 – Game story and standouts.
Haverford 15, St. Sebastian’s 3 – Video highlights.
Episcopal Academy 10, Avon Old Farms 9 – Game story and standouts.
Malvern Prep 12, St. Sebastian’s 5 – Video highlights.
La Salle 9, Radnor 5 – Game story and standouts. Video highlights.
Declan Monahan started to figure out that his Gonzaga (D.C.) team had the makings of something special midway through its preseason scrimmage slate.
The goalie, who backstopped MadLax DC Dogs to the 2023 NLF national championship at UMass last summer and subsequently committed to Penn in the fall, knew that the Eagles had modest outside expectations coming into the season. It didn’t bother him or his teammates, and they wasted no time in establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the country.
Under new coach Jeff King, Gonzaga downed Loyola Blakefield (Md.), 9-4, before cruising to an 11-7 win over preseason No. 5 McDonogh (Md.). They’ve since racked up a 7-0 record, their most recent triumphs a 10-9 overtime win over Paul VI (Va.) and Sunday, an 11-10 win over previous No. 4 Culver (Ind.). That résumé has them checking in at No. 5 in the second NLF high school rankings.
“We actually had a ton of confidence going into the Loyola game based off our last scrimmage against St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes (Va.), and when Loyola punched us, we kept punching back,” Monahan said. “We knew what our potential could be if we played as a team. We play hard and a full 48 minutes.”
Monahan’s been a big part of the Eagles’ success in his first year as a starter. He’s had to learn how to harness his energy in the right way before big games, but he feels much more confident now. That’s bad news for opposing shooters.
“I had some anxiety going into the Loyola game, but I’ve learned how to cope with it and use the nervousness for excitement and confidence,” Monahan said. “I started playing to my potential once I started gaining that confidence.”
Provided that Gonzaga and No. 2 St. John’s (D.C.) can hold serve in their early games this week, the two will have a showdown of undefeated teams in their WCAC battle Friday at St. John’s. You won’t find Monahan or the Eagles looking ahead to the Cadets, nor will they treat their rivals any differently than they would any other team.
“We’re trying to have a, ‘no big games,’ mentality,” Monahan said. “We go into every game with the same mentality.”
NLF No. 20 James Matan (North Carolina) has been the go-to offensive guy for the Eagles. The future Tar Heel gives defenses fits with his ability to score goals from anywhere. Sophomore Johnny Gardiner has been a revelation since moving from midfield to attack, while Ryan Splaine (Rutgers) is one of the most dynamic LSMs in the country. Austin Cunningham (MadLax / Army) drew praise from Monahan for his coverage, too.
NLF High School Top 25
1. St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) 2-0
The top-ranked Friars cruised in their first two games, dispatching Cardinal Gibbons (N.C.), 15-6, and Charlotte Catholic (N.C.), 17-7. They’ll welcome Ohio power St. Ignatius and perennial New Jersey titan Delbarton this week, as well as travel to Ward Melville (N.Y.), annually one of Long Island’s top public programs. Four-star senior Michael Leo (Syracuse) popped off for seven goals and two assists in two games, while NLF No. 40 ’23 Jack Speidell (Team 91 LI / Harvard) fired home six goals and added an assist.
2. St. John’s (D.C.) 7-0
Wes Speaks’ group secured another signature win, this time by fending off Ontario’s Hill Academy‘s furious comeback for an 11-10 win. They now have three wins over top-13 teams with another major opportunity on Friday against WCAC rival No. 5 Gonzaga. NLF No. 60 ’22 Luke Rhoa (Crabs), a Syracuse commit, led the offense with a hat trick. Fellow Orange signee NLF No. 51 ’22 Riley Figueiras and NLF No. 11 ’23 Caleb Fyock (Crabs / Ohio State), “have been special,” according to Speaks.
3. Brunswick (Conn.) 0-0
David Bruce‘s incredibly talented team finally gets its 2022 slate underway this week, and there’s no dipping toes into the shallow end for the Bruins. They welcome Georgetown Prep (Md.) on Tuesday and travel to No. 9 Deerfield (Mass.) on Saturday.
“On paper, I’d say it rivals 2018, and 2018 and 2017 were our best two years,” Bruce said in the preseason top 25. “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.”
4. Boys’ Latin (Md.) 4-1
The defending MIAA champions are starting to look the part of the team that found its mojo last May. NLF No. 3 ’22 Dom Pietramala (North Carolina) has been absolutely electric since getting held off the scoresheet in the season opener. The future Tar Heel burned No. 6 Culver (Ind.) for three goals in a 9-8 win after torching Lawrenceville for five markers. Four-star sophomore Spencer Ford (Crabs) dished out six assists against the Big Red. Brian Farrell‘s squad opens up MIAA play on Tuesday against McDonogh.
5. Gonzaga (D.C.) 7-0
6. Calvert Hall (Md.) 7-1
Truitt Sunderland (Virginia) got held pointless in the Cardinals’ season opener. It would be foolish to expect that again with how he’s been playing. Sunderland’s been eviscerating everyone in his path, the latest a five-goal, two-assist day in a 12-6 win over Western Reserve (Ohio). He also put up six goals and two assists in a come-from-behind win against Lawrenceville. Senior goalie Luca Mercado (High Point) has been a rock in the Cardinals’ cage, too.
7. Mount Sinai (N.Y.) 1-0
The defending Long Island Class C champions got their season started off with a convincing 12-4 win over defending Long Island Class A champion Northport (N.Y.). NLF No. 1 ’22 Joey Spallina (Team 91 LI / Syracuse) picked up right where he left off last year, burning the Tigers for six goals and two assists, while junior Quinnipiac commit Cole Marsala (Team 91 LI) added two goals and two assists. Junior Brett Spallina (Team 91 LI / Syracuse) shut down Northport’s top scoring option, while NLF No. 43 ’22 Dylan Sageder (Team 91 LI / Syracuse) was a monster in the middle of the field from his LSM spot.
8. Culver (Ind.) 8-2
Culver’s East Coast swing started with a bang as sophomore Aidan McDonald dished out four assists and added a goal in a 12-7 win over McDonogh (Md.). The Eagles then fell to No. 4 Boys’ Latin (Md.), 9-8, and then dropped another one-goal decision to No. 5 Gonzaga after stomping Bullis (Md.) 17-8. NLF No. 27 ’23 Rowan Clay (Michigan) has been a force in his first year as an Eagle.
9. Deerfield (Mass.) 0-0
The defending NLF national champions get their season underway Wednesday with a visit from No. 24 Belmont Hill (Mass.) and follow it up by hosting No. 3 Brunswick. Deerfield has added some potent players, including NLF No. 15 ’22 Matt Lazzaro (Laxachusetts / Penn State). Senior Bryce Pang (Team 91 LI / Lehigh) takes over in the Big Green cage.
10. Salisbury (Conn.) 0-0
Trying to defend the Crimson Knights should be a real treat for teams this year. Salisbury returns a pair of slick lefties in senior Denver commit Ty Scott (SweetLax) and NLF No. 49 ’23 Trey Deere (SweetLax / Syracuse), both of whom helped the Crimson Knights’ powerhouse hockey team to a New England Elite 8 title. NLF No. 12 ’22 Brock Behrman (Team 91 LI), who will now join Notre Dame as a ’23, is an electric scorer who will likely play some attack and midfield this year.
Salisbury coach Tom Spinella has some elite-level talent at every position, and he’s excited about his team’s potential.
“(SweetLax defenseman and Notre Dame commit) Declan Cooke is a three-year starter and he’s a true leader for us,” Spinella said. “Will Delagarza (SweetLax / Boston University) has a ton of composure, really understands our offense and has a hell of a shot. Will Mangel (SweetLax) has an unbelievable work ethic, great grades and he’s 6-6.”
There’s plenty more talent – NLF No. 14 ’23 Brady Wambach (North Carolina) steps in at the faceoff stripe and Marco Wimmershoff (Rutgers) is the new starter in the cage – and the makeup for a great 2022 campaign is there for the Crimson Knights.
11. Chaminade (N.Y.) 1-0
12. Darien (Conn.) 0-0
13. Hill Academy (Ont.) 1-2
14. Taft (Conn.) 0-0
15. Archbishop Spalding (Md.) 4-1
16. Lawrenceville (N.J.) 1-2
17. Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) 0-0
18. Manhasset (N.Y.) 1-0
19. La Salle (Pa.) 1-0
20. McDonogh (Md.) 3-2
21. Garden City (N.Y.) 1-0
22. Haverford School (Pa.) 2-2
23. St. Mary’s (Md.) (5-0)
24. Belmont Hill (Mass.) 0-0
25. Ridgefield (Conn.) 0-0