DEERFIELD — No. 2 Deerfield Academy (Mass.) entered Wednesday’s pivotal showdown against New England West rival Taft (Conn.), looking to keep its perfect season intact heading into the final week of their season.

With two games remaining against nationally-ranked programs, No. 8 Taft and No. 11 Belmont Hill (Mass.), it was certainly going to be a tall task, beginning with a hungry Taft program, who were dealt their first loss of the season, at the hands of the Brunswick School, 14-7 last week.

Following No. 1 ranked McDonogh’s (Md.) MIAA A state semifinal loss to Boys’ Latin (Md.) on Tuesday, the No. 1 ranking in the National Rankings Poll was potentially on the line for the Deerfield Big Green on Wednesday. 


The Big Green built a five-goal lead at halftime and withstood a furious second-half comeback from Taft to finish with a 7-5 win.

“We Know How Good We Are”

 “We know how good we are,” senior captain George Panagopoulos said after the game. “When we play as a team, it’s a pretty special thing”.

Deerfield’s unselfish play was evident all game, especially on a beautiful man-up sequence,. where NLF No. 3 ’21 and Virginia commit Griffin Schutz finished off a sequence where every player on the Deerfield offense touched the ball in a five-second span. Schutz netted two goals for Deerfield, as there were four other goal scores in the win.

Harvard commits Liam Griffiths and Joe Dowling also punched goals in from a distance, early in the contest to help pace the Big Green offense.

 “Coming into this season, it was a big question mark how we were going to fit everyone on the team into their roles,” Panagopoulos said.

 He credited their ability to adjust to legendary, 28-year head coach Chip Davis, who has led the Big Green to a 12-0 start.

Trailing  6-1 heading into the 2nd half, Taft began to spark their offense. Elijah Cohen (Eclipse / Harvard) put up back-to-back goals early in the second half, setting the tone for Taft out of the break. Fellow senior and NLF No. 6 ’21 Chris Kavanagh (LI Express / Notre Dame) followed with back-to-back goals of his own to help spearhead the comeback.

Deerfield’s Christian Ramsussen (West Coast Starz / Brown) came up clutch for the Big Green down the stretch as he extended the lead back to two goals on a man-up snipe shortly after the Taft run. There was still life for Taft down the stretch, following a two-man penalty by Deerfield late in the fourth quarter of play. Panagopoulos and the Deerfield defense stepped up and provided the key response, killing the penalties and giving the ball back to Deerfield’s offense. Schutz ran out the remaining time on the clock, securing the win for the Big Green.


Griffin Schutz ’21, attack, Deerfield / 3d New England / Virginia – NLF No. 3 ’21

The third-ranked player in the Class of 2021 provided much more of an impact than his two-goal day suggested. He scrapped on loose ground balls, absorbed contact from every direction and still stayed on his feet. His grit and toughness showed in the final two minutes, when Deerfield went man-down and was pressed out by the Taft defense. He used his speed and athleticism to run around multiple defenders and solidify his team’s win.

George Panagopoulos ’21, defense, Deerfield / Igloo / Tufts

In a low-scoring affair where both defenses played in tight, Panagopoulos managed to make his presence known. The Tufts commit was a menace on the ball. A stocky pole was laying checks all over his matchups including a highlight reel maneuver, he stripped his matchup and just when the Taft player scooped it up, Panagopoulos threw an over-the-head check and then pushed it in transition. His mixture of fundamentals and flash will make an immediate impact player in the NESCAC.

Thomas Ricciardelli ’22, goalie, Taft / Eclipse / Notre Dame – NLF No. 14 ’22

Both goalies were on their A-games, as Ricciardelli kept Taft in the contest when Deerfield came out red-hot. Ricciardelli’s highlights in the game include a huge save, as time nearly expired in the first half. Deerfield was given several doorstep opportunities, but Ricciardelli was poised throughout, showing an extreme attention to tracking the head of the opposing player’s stick on the crease.

Michael Scharfenberger ’21, goalie, Deerfield / LI Express / Georgetown

The Big Green captain and the backbone of the defense, Scharfenberger was spectacular in the Deerfield win. Posting 11 saves and yielding a mere five goals against the Rhinos’ explosive offense, Scharfenberger’s ability to control his defense along with communicating with his team’s offense while they had possession showed why he is an exceptional team leader and captain. “The best goalie in the country,” his teammates mentioned after the game, a universal sign of respect for the future Hoya.


Deerfield (12-0) 2 4 0 1 – 7
Taft (7-2) 1 0 3 1 – 5


Griffin Schutz (3d New England / Virginia / NLF No. 3 ’21) – 2 goals
Liam Griffiths (Eclipse / Harvard) – 2 goals
Christian Rasmussen (West Coast Starz / Brown) 1 goal, 1 assist
Joe Dowling (3d New England / Harvard) 1 goal
Antonio Topouzis (Laxachusetts / Cornell) 1 goal
Kade Goldberg (3d New England / Georgetown) 3 assists
Matis Cole (3d New England / Michigan) 1 assist
Billy Curtis (3d New England / Middlebury) 1 assist
Michael Scharfenberger (LI Express / Georgetown) 11 saves


Chris Kavanagh (LI Express / Notre Dame / NLF No. 6 ’21) 2 goals, 1 assist
Elijah Cohen (Eclipse / Harvard) 2 goals
Jeffrey Ricciardelli (Eclipse / Notre Dame / NLF No. 34 ’21) 1 goal
Ben Spinelli (SweetLax / Notre Dame) 1 assist
Thomas Ricciardelli (Eclipse / Notre Dame / NLF No. 14 ’22) 8 saves