The list of defensemen in the 2021 class better than Colin Mulshine isn’t a very lengthy one.
Mulshine, a Brunswick senior, Prime Time standout and Princeton commit, has been a known commodity for quite some time on the circuit. He quickly carved out a reputation for himself as one of the elite shutdown guys in the class, earning the No. 24 spot on NLFRankings.com list of top 2021s in the country.
He knew that his performance in Wednesday’s game against Taft, a battle of two of the top 10 teams in the country, would be crucial to the Bruins’ success. He knew he’d be seeing a lot of Rhinos’ star attackman Chris Kavanagh, a Notre Dame commit ranked No. 6 class by NLFRankings.com.
Consider it a success, both for Mulshine and Brunswick. The 6-4, 200-pound defenseman led a stingy Brunswick defense that kept an explosive Taft offense to single digits as the Bruins doubled up the Rhinos, 14-7.
Mulshine Clamps ‘Em Down
“It’s very difficult to cover Kavanagh,” Mulshine said. “I’ve played him a couple times before, so I knew I was getting into, and it’s always fun to have a battle like that. He was the guy we were keyed in on. It always comes down to great team defense and sticking to the gameplan.”
Rare are the times where a defense can keep a player of Kavanagh’s talent off the scoresheet. Despite that, holding the Long Island Express star and brother of Notre Dame Tewaaraton nominee Pat Kavanagh to two assists is about as good a performance as you can ask for.
Mulshine had help in the form of NLF No. 4 ’22 Charlie Johnson (Prime Time / Duke), LSM Will Donovan (Notre Dame) and defenseman Hunter Spiess. Short-stick defensive midfielders Owen Guest (Army) also had an incredible day, his performance punctuated by a beauty of a coast-to-coast goal. Lucas Delgado (Eclipse / Michigan) also put forth a great day. The Bruins switched off of picks and swarmed the ball when they could, particularly when Kavanagh initiated. The Irish commit showed deft stickwork and good vision on a day where his shot wasn’t falling,
Mulshine, though, was the catalyst behind it. He’s got elite size, but it’s his fluidity and ability to move that makes him so difficult to get around. It seems like he covers a third of the field when he takes one lateral stride, and he excels on approaches and keeping his man away from the cage. His play helped the Bruins get back to their winning ways with a signature victory over one of the nation’s best.
“This is such a big win for us, especially after the Deerfield and Lawrenceville losses that we had. This is huge for our confidence,” Mulshine said. “We knew they were great offensively and one of the things is that they really like to force feed the crease. They love to make the extra pass and feed the crease, so we made sure to focus on that.”
Eight is Great for Mackesy
For as good as Mulshine and the defense were, Coulter Mackesy and the offense were equally as brilliant. Another Princeton commit, Mackesy torched the Rhinos’ defense for four goals and four assists, including a four-point first quarter that sparked Brunswick’s 5-2 lead.
The lefty has been a dynamic force at attack for Brunswick this year, which lost NLF No. 10 ’22 Henry Caponiti (Prime Time / Georgetown) to a season-ending injury in the preseason. It took some time for the Bruins to come together offensively, but if Wednesday’s any indicator, the rest of their opponents are staring down a real bad time.
“This was huge for our confidence, especially against a goalie as good as (NLF No. 14 ’22 and Notre Dame commit Thomas) Ricciardelli,” Mackesy said. “Our shooting percentage was probably the best we’ve had all year. At the start of the season, we weren’t playing our best, but we’ve been playing better. Our game was pretty selfish with a lot of 1v1 scoring, which won’t do you well against these big teams. To play a full game of team offense was amazing. I trust every guy on our offense because each player can do it all.”
Ricciardelli did what he could for Taft, denying eight shots sent his way, but the Bruins were routinely able to get inside the defense and get high-quality looks. The five-star goalie had a couple of really impressive stops, including a brilliant 1v1 denial of Mackesy. Ultimately, though, Brunswick’s array of weapons overwhelmed the Rhinos.
“It started with their O-mids and the firepower that they had there,” Ricciardelli said. “They were able to create separation and get shots off of that. I was having a hard time saving the ball and we were less physical than we should have been. It’s definitely a wakeup call. We had a lack of energy, and we got down early and that didn’t help us. It was our first game against an elite team and we weren’t prepared enough emotionally.”
Ethan Costanzo ’22, faceoff, Taft / Long Island Express / Penn
Blink and you’ll miss Costanzo winning the faceoff clamp. His hands are ridiculously fast and winning the clamp against him should come with some sort of prize besides just a faceoff win. He came on strong in the second half, winning 10 of 14 draws in the back half of the game. That included a stretch of nine in a row that coincided with Taft’s best offensive run of the day. He looks like he prefers defensive exits and did a nice job of handling the ball under pressure most of the time.
Will Donovan ’22, LSM, Brunswick / 2Way / Notre Dame
There aren’t many players who have improved their stock more in the past year or so than Donovan. He should pay rent for the amount of time he spends on ball, constantly pestering ball carriers and never passing on an opportunity to throw a check. The disruptive lefty had a gorgeous goose to an open teammate off of the third quarter’s opening faceoff. He was also able to slow Costanzo down at the faceoff X by putting immediate pressure after Costanzo would win clamps, and he threw an impressive shoulder check on Costanzo in the fourth quarter for a big Brunswick faceoff win.
Sean Fox ’21, LSM, Taft / Eclipse / Cornell (Highlights)
Fox wasted no time in making an impact for the Rhinos. He got the ball off of a Ryan Levy (Team 91 Carolina / North Carolina) forced turnover at the midline and hammered it home to give Taft a 1-0 lead off the ensuing restart. After that, he showed an ability to get his stick on the ball and disrupt the offensive flow quite a bit. He took the ball away a couple of times and never shied away from throwing checks. Fox was a constant playmaker for Eclipse’s vaunted 2021 team and that ability to change the game has carried over to Taft.
Owen Guest ’22, midfield, Brunswick / Predators / Army
It’s hard to have a better day as a short-stick defensive midfielder than Guest did for the Bruins. Guest looked every bit the part of a future Black Knight, bringing a ton of grit and sandpaper to the SSDM spot. He was constantly targeted by the Rhinos’ superb offensive playmakers and came away with lights-out defense. Guest got rewarded for his great play on one sequence where he blocked a shot, grabbed the ground ball, ran it down the field, worked a perfect give-and-go with Mackesy and snapped it home while taking a hit. His performance was crucial to the Bruins’ win.
Charlie Johnson ’22, defense, Brunswick / Prime Time / Duke – NLF No. 5 ’22
Having Charlie Johnson as your No. 2 defenseman in high school lacrosse is downright ludicrous. He’d be the unquestioned No. 1 on 99 percent of other teams. The future Blue Devil more than held up his end of the bargain in coverage and made a couple of nice stick plays. In the second quarter, he did a great job of getting his stick on hands to force a bad pass, then later matched feet with Kavanagh sweeping across the top to force a low-angle shot. Johnson plays hard all the time and he doesn’t shy away from the physical end of things.
BRUNSWICK 14, TAFT 7
Taft 2 1 2 2 – 7
Brunswick 5 1 4 4 – 14
’21 Jeff Ricciardelli (Eclipse / Notre Dame / NLF No. 32 ’21) 2g
’22 Isaac Korus (Prime Time / Penn) 2g
’23 Ethan Rubenstein (SweetLax Florida) 1 goal
’21 Ryan Levy (Team 91 Carolina / North Carolina) 1 goal, 1 assist
’21 Sean Fox (Eclipse / Cornell) 1 goal
’21 Chris Kavanagh (LI Express / Notre Dame / NLF No. 6 ’21) 2 assists
’22 Thomas Ricciardelli (Eclipse / Notre Dame / NLF No. 14 ’22)
’21 Dash Sachs (Express North / Brown) 2-for-5 faceoffs
’22 Ethan Costanzo (LI Express / Penn) 14-for-20 faceoffs
’21 Coulter Mackesy (Princeton) 4 goals, 4 assists
’21 Luke Waters (Eclipse / Duke) 3 goals, 1 assist
’21 Tommy Quinson (Denison) 3 goals
’21 Blake Borges (Prime Time / Syracuse) 1 goal, 1 assist
’21 Lucas Delgado (Eclipse / Michigan) 1 goal
’23 Tomas Delgado (Prime Time / NLF No. 3 ’23) 1 goal
’22 Owen Guest (Army) 1 goal
’23 Leo Hoffman (Team 91 LI / NLF No. 2 ’23) 1 assist
’21 Blake Burchill (Eclipse / Bucknell) 2-for-6 faceoffs
’23 Andrew Greenspan (Prime Time / NLF No. 16 ’23) 3-for-9 faceoffs
’22 Will Donovan (Notre Dame) 4-for-7 faceoffs
’23 James Shannon 0-for-3 faceoffs