In our Behind the NLF Rankings Features, we will take a deeper look into what makes some of our top club programs, teams, and student-athletes achieve their elite-level success.
The Annapolis Hawks are the first National Lacrosse Federation Rankings No. 1 ranked team in the Class of 2022.
Hawks club Director Matt Hogan and 2022 head coach Tom Ripley shared with us how this group has risen to the top of the ranks.
What makes this group such a special group on and off the field?
Ripley: The best thing about this group is that we have 24 of the best teammates. We have a group of guys who are willing to do whatever it takes to help their teammates succeed. They take incredible pride in their work ethics and for their brothers on their left and their right.
What are some of the distinguishable attributes that make the 2022s stand out?
Hogan: We have been together for a long time. Five of our players have been on this team since the third grade and 15 since the fifth grade.
We focus intensely on the fundamentals. The kids have exceptional stick work, and that is the foundation of our team.
We take great pride in our ability to ride and to clear the ball. Both disciplines require all 10 players to work as a single unit.
Most memorable moments, and any signature games that stand out?
Hogan: As a coach, talking to each of my guys as they prepare to make their college commitment has been incredible. I have known some of these boys for more than 10 years. They are like family.
It’s special time that you can watch a young man deal with adversity and work through. It could be winning from behind, overcoming an injury, or developing a new skill. Those are the memories that I cherish.
Any time we have a chance to play a top team it is special. We love to compete and getting pushed by our competition.
Naptown is our hometown tournament. Playing in front of your family and friends is special.
When did you know you had a special group on your hands?
Hogan: In fifth grade, we won Young Guns, a regional event in Maryland hosted by the Crabs. In the finals, we beat a team, from behind, that historically had beaten us in prior years. That set us on a course for the future years.
As you look to the future, what are you looking forward to most about working with these guys?
Hogan: We are headed to Lake Placid this year at the end of our summer. It will be our last major event as a team and that will be a special moment.
Watching all 23 of my guys play at the next level will be exceptional. Twenty-two of them are already committed.
Ripley: This will be our last summer with this group and I am excited to see them for one last run. We have a committed group of committed guys, who I have watched grow from boys to young men.
I started coaching this team in third grade. It was the first third-grade team the Hawks had.
(Ripley’s son, Race – NLFRankings.com’s No. 28 ’22 – is committed to the United States Naval Academy.)
It has been a wonderful experience with this group and it has been fun to watch them have the success that they have had.
Toughest opponents and rival clubs in the Class of 2022, and what makes these matchups so good.
Hogan: The talent in this grade on the field and in the coach’s box is exceptional. When we meet teams, it is commonplace that I’m coaching against a Hall of Fame player, an all-American, or someone I use to watch as a player or young man. That has made for a talented group of players, and a demanding set of coaches. Joe Spallina, Mark Millon, Sal LoCascio, Mike Chanenchuk, Brian Reese, Dave Cottle, Brian Wood – these guys make everyone around them (myself included) better.
- Team 91 Long Island Smash
- Team 91 Maryland Fire
- DC Express
- Long Island Express
Ripley: The 2022 group is stacked. The players and coaches are unbelievable. They force us to be the best team and coaches we can be. I have a ton of respect for our opponents, and the games against these teams are so tough – you always have to be ready, and bring your A-game, when you go head-to-head with these fantastic clubs.
Top College Recruits
NLF No. 3 Dom Pietramala, attack/midfield, Boys’ Latin (Md.) / North Carolina
NLF No. 9 Billy Dwan , defense, Loyola Blakefield (Md.) / Syracuse
NLF No. 21 Alex Ross, defense, Archbishop Spalding (Md.) / Penn State
NLF No. 28 Race Ripley, attack, Archbishop Spalding (Md.) / Navy
NLF No. 45 Paul Garza, midfield, St. John’s – Navy
NLF No. 47 Michael Weisshaar, midfield, Archbishop Spalding (Md.) / Towson
NLF No. 51 Riley Figueiras, defense, St. John’s (D.C.) / Rutgers
Under The Radar Player
Thomas (Barry) Strong III, midfield, Calvert Hall. 6-foot-4, 180 lbs.
“He is an absolute diamond,” Hogan said.
“It’s Barry’s time to shine, ” Ripley added.
Ripley further explained, “He has a great right hand. He is a North-South dodger. He is really long – and when you see him run, you are looking at an 18-year old Myles Jones. His stick continues to develop, and with all the work he is putting in with Bryan Kelly at Calvert Hall – he is making leaps and bounds. He has added a nasty split dodge to go with his already impressive size and speed, and all the pieces are starting to come together for him. We are really excited for Barry. Our kids are really excited to help feature his skills this summer, and college coaches are going to be amazed when they see him out there.
Annapolis Hawks 2022 Coaching Staff
Matt Hogan – Director
Tom Ripley – Head Coach
“Our sideline is a “Who’s who of 1980s lacrosse,” Ripley said of the 2022 team staff. “These guys are not only phenomenal coaches, but they are even better people. The chemistry and the bond our coaches have with our players is built on love, and they will do anything to help each other and our players – on and off the field.”
Dave Cottle – Assistant Coach
Brian Wood – Assistant Coach
Rob Fyock – Assistant Coach
Ripley: We will probably do four tournaments this summer, including the recruiting showcases that the boys do. We will be at Naptown, which is our hometown tournament. We will do the NLF Championships, which we are really excited about. That is always tough and features the best of the best teams. We will do the North America Lacrosse Invitational, and we will finish out with Lake Placid.
From the Coach’s Box
“This summer will be special since it’s our final run together as a group. It’s been a wonderful experience with these guys, as the boys have grown to be like a family. It’s a great group and the results that they’ve earned are a product of all the hard work that they’ve put into it.” – Tom Ripley