Pup Buono‘s position move to being a full-time long-stick midfielder didn’t come out of any elaborate plans.
The Malvern Prep (Pa.) senior defenseman and Penn State commit had been sticking at close defense The results were good enough that he emerged as one of the better defensive options in the 2021 class either way, but it wasn’t until a game at Seton Hall Prep that he found his new, permanent home.
“Coach just said, ‘Pup, you’re playing pole,’ and I was just, like, ‘what?’,” Buono recalled. “It kind of just happened. I’m getting time, having fun, doing what I can do. It’s working out.”
It certainly is. Buono is tailor-made for the LSM position as a bull in a china shop that is omnipresent around the ball. He’s so disruptive and finds a way to contest every play around him, and he’s incredibly adept at dislodging the ball from an opponent’s stick and finding it a new home.
The future Nittany Lion was all over the place in last Friday’s 16-3 trouncing of Lawrenceville (N.J.) at the second annual GEICO Showcase. He and the Friars were rather rude event hosts, jumping all over the Big Red by building a 10-2 halftime lead and cruising home. A few days after defensive mate Jake Brownley (Harvard) backed the Friars to a key Inter-Ac win over rival Haverford School, it was Buono leading the charge against the Big Red. It was hard for Lawrenceville to get to Brownley and the close defense because guys like Buono made it so hard to clear the ball.
Playmaker at Pole
Buono made his mark early, finding his way upfield and creating a turnover on the sidelines. He handed the ball to Colin McGill (Dartmouth) off the restart, and McGill uncorked a picture-perfect low-to-high rip into the near-side top corner. It was a part of a three-caused turnover, five-ground ball day for Buono, and his presence in the middle of the field always makes opposing midfielders very nervous.
“I think those plays help with momentum,” Buono said. “Getting the ground balls really helps the positive energy on the team. It gets the boys going. I started out at close, but my style of play is better up top where I can have a more creative style of play. I can do a lot more than the boring (close defense) stuff.”
Malvern Prep 16, Lawrenceville School 3
Lawrenceville 2 0 0 1 – 3
Malvern 6 4 3 3 – 16
Eric Spanos 5g
Colin McGill 3g, 1a
Will Peden 2g, 4a
Nick Potemski 2g, 1a
Dennis Udo 2g
AJ Nikolic 1g
Tucker Milhous 1g, 2a
Brian Ciarlone 2a
Jakob Voehringer 1a
Cooper Frankenheimer 1a
Joe Doherty 2 saves
Chris O’Grady 1 save
Justin Turley 4-for-9 faceoffs
Dylan Cabahug-Almonte 4-for-8 faceoffs
Joe Bucci 5-for-5 faceoffs
Hunter Chauvette 2g
Will Upchurch 1g
Christopher Matia 1a
Lucas Osborne 1a
Trevor Mackles 9-for-19 faceoffs
Hale Brown 0-for-3 faceoffs
Timmy Piacentini 18 saves
Waters’ Goal Knocks Off Haverford
Luke Waters almost didn’t believe what he was seeing.
The Brunswick (Conn.) and Eclipse lefty midfielder and Duke commit found himself wide-open with all day to step down and shoot off of a restart. Those opportunities are few and far between for a guy who can sling it like the senior can, so he wasn’t going to waste his chance.
Waters stepped into a Coulter Mackesy (Princeton) end line feed and hammered home a high-to-high rip from six yards out for what stood as the game-winning goal in Brunswick’s 9-8 win over Haverford (Pa.) in the GEICO Showcase opener. NLF No. 50 ’23 Ryan DiRocco brought the Fords to within one, but Luke Schlank (Georgetown) denied a last-second chance to bring Haverford even and cement Brunswick’s win.
“We try and draw something coming out of the crease there when the X attackman’s (Mackesy) getting it from the end line,” Waters said. “There, the defense just had a miscommunication and I happened to be open. Coulter always sees it and he got it to me. I was pretty excited when I got that and I was kind of surprised. I knew we all kind of knew they would come back, though. They’re a great team, so credit to the defense there. They were unbelievable.”
Brunswick sprinted out to a 5-1 lead late in the first quarter, but the Fords slowly chipped away. DiRocco scored his first of the game, Cornell-bound midfielder Michael Bozzi tallied once and Geordy Holmes (Maryland) buried four goals to draw the Fords even. Thirty-two seconds before Waters’ goal, Syracuse commit Blake Borges hit his second of the game on a rollback rip to put Brunswick up. Later, Bozzi tried one last shot at the buzzer, only to be turned aside by Schlank.
“We recognize that it was a one-goal game against one of the better teams in the country,” Bozzi said. “7-7 after the third. It goes to show that little things like clears and ground balls add up and they determine the outcome.”
Brunswick 9, Haverford 8
Brunswick 5 2 0 2 – 9
Haverford 2 3 2 1 – 8
Blake Borges 3g
Coulter Mackesy 2g, 1a
Luke Waters 2g
Tomas Delgado 1g
Chris Gaine 1g
Will Donovan 1a
Andrew Greenspan 1a, 6-for-8 faceoffs
Blake Burchill 8-for-12 faceoffs
Luke Schlank 6 saves
Geordy Holmes 4g
Ryan DiRocco 2g
Michael Bozzi 1g, 1a
Wills Burt 1g, 1a
Teddy Malone 2a
Chuck Cacciutti 8 saves
Adam Greenfield 6-for-16 faceoffs
Jake McCarthy 1-for-5 faceoffs
GEICO Showcase Standouts
Eric Spanos ’21, attack, Malvern / Rising Sons / Maryland (Highlights)
Surprise! The Terps have another legit scorer coming to College Park. Spanos, who was the earliest commitment in lacrosse recruiting history when he opted for the Terps as an eighth grader, was unstoppable for Malvern. He torched the Big Red to the tune of five goals, and he found different ways to beat Lawrenceville. Spanos took a feed from standout short-stick defensive midfielder Cooper Frankenheimer (North Carolina) and wired a low shot off the opening faceoff. Later, sophomore Quintan Kilrain had excellent positioning on Spanos, so the big sniper wrapped his stick around Kilrain and wired one to the far side.
The hat trick goal was an ankle breaker at X that turned to a dunk on the crease. He added another one on a BTB from a perfect Will Peden (Penn State) pass. The finale came on a smart, heady play, when he knocked down a Timmy Piacentini clearing attempt, picked up the ground ball and tucked it home. Malvern has a ridiculously deep array of scorers, and Spanos is right in the thick of it.
“Playing with guys like Will Peden, Nick Potemski (Duke), Colin McGill (Dartmouth), we all like to get each other,” Spanos said. “One day, I’ll have five, the other day, Will will have five. It just goes any way with all of us. We’re always looking for each other on the field and we play really well together.”
Chuck Cacciutti ’22, goalie, Haverford / Mesa / Penn (Highlights)
Cacciutti and the Fords’ defense shrugged off a cold start that saw Brunswick put up five first-quarter goals. The future Quaker stood tall in the final three quarters, finishing with 10 saves and giving Haverford a chance to win. His finest effort may have been when he stared down a 1v1 against Luke Waters (Eclipse / Duke) and took away the lefty bomber’s hard, high rip. Much like senior Geordy Holmes (see below), Cacciutti’s been a consistent presence for the Fords this year.
Will Donovan ’22, LSM, Brunswick / 2Way / Notre Dame (Highlights)
Playing against Donovan has to be incredibly annoying because that guy is EVERYWHERE and he loves to get right up on his man and never let him run free. The lefty Irish commit was a force at the inaugural Nike Nationals last fall, and his game has continued its upward ascent. He’s so aggressive and has an elite stick and is dynamic between the lines. Donovan had a really impressive sequence where he snared a ground ball, ran the length of the field and dumped it off to a waiting Chris Gaine on the back post for an easy dunk. He can take chances because he has such a good group of close defensemen behind him – Colin Mulshine (see below), NLF No. 4 ’22 Charlie Johnson (Duke) and senior Mario Rinaldi (Bucknell). When he does take those chances, the ball’s moving the other way.
“They’re unbelievable. There’s a safety net at all times and I feel so much more comfortable with them,” Donovan said. “To have those monsters behind me – they don’t get beat, either – it’s a lot of fun to play with. This game was probably our best competition all year. We have some good tests ahead of us, but it’s good to get a big win under our belt.”
Andrew Greenspan ’23, faceoff midfield, Brunswick / Prime Time – NLF No. 16 ’23
NLFRankings.com’s top-ranked faceoff man in the ’23 class and our No. 16 overall prospect in the class teamed with senior Blake Burchill (Bucknell) to give the Bruins a decided advantage at the faceoff X all day. Greenspan’s IQ and technique is very advanced, and he knows exactly what to do with the ball once it’s in his stick. He showed a bevy of moves and counters and did a nice job of putting the ball in a position for his wing men to get it. Greenspan went 6-for-8 at the dot and also showed his fast-break abilities with a good feed to set up Coulter Mackesey for a goal off the faceoff win for Brunswick’s second goal in nine seconds.
Geordy Holmes ’21, midfield, Haverford / Mesa / Maryland
He’s no stranger to NLFRankings.com writeups, but it’s impossible to ignore everything that Holmes did to give the Fords a chance to win. He put the squad on his back in the middle quarters, scoring four times to close what looked to be an insurmountable lead and turn it into a tie game. He got his scoring started with an alley dodge that finished with a high-to-high snap, then followed it up with a goal off of a lefty alley dodge. Holmes later finished a nifty backhanded feed from Michael Bozzi before making a man miss at GLE and finishing off a dunk. Holmes has been a constant force for the Fords all season long.
Colin McGill ’21, attack, Malvern / Rising Sons / Dartmouth (Highlights)
McGill has the best job on the team and he knows it, too.
“Hundred percent. Hundred percent. Off-ball shooter! I think Will Peden’s our best feeder and he makes it easy,” McGill said. “I’d say I’m a role player. I know my role. I’m not going to pretend like I’m some dodging threat. I have kids on my team who are a matchup problem and I just take advantage of it. I think we complement each other.”
The lefty Dartmouth commit took full advantage of the open space afforded to him. He got the ball off of a restart when Pup Buono caused a turnover, then absolutely annihilated the near-side high corner with a rip. He showed deft hands when he took a feed from Brian Ciarlone on the crease and dunked it home. The best one, though, came when Peden threw an absurd skip bounce pass on the man-up to McGill, who wired another one to the top of the cage.
Colin Mulshine ’21, defense, Brunswick / Prime Time / Princeton – NLF No. 24 ’21 (Highlights)
Even with a loaded back line for the Bruins, Mulshine is impossible to miss. First of all, he’s got to be close to 6-5 and 200 pounds, but it was also the future Tiger’s fleet feet, athleticism and angles that made him impossible for Haverford to get by. He didn’t throw a ton of checks because he’s always in the right spot, and the Fords realized early that dodging him was an exercise in futility.
Timmy Piacentini ’24, goalie, Lawrenceville / Tri-State (Highlights)
It’s unusual to have a goalie stand out when 16 goals get by him, but without Piacentini, Malvern could have named its score. The freshman was really good for the Big Red, finishing with 18 saves and enough quality ones to make up half of a new highlight reel. Piacentini is the backbone of a very young but talented defense that will be a problem for teams in the coming years. Piacentini confidently moves around the crease, and the lefty raised some eyebrows with a handful of really impressive saves. Perhaps none were better than a high 1v1 denial of Colin McGill on the crease.
Luke Schlank ’22, goalie, Brunswick / Prime Time / Georgetown (Highlights)
By the class of 2022’s ludicrous, breakneck fast pace of recruiting, Schlank was a “late” get for the Hoyas when he committed in January. The Hoyas got a good one, though, as Schlank has earned the Bruins’ starting job. He came up with a poised, steady save as time expired on a Michael Bozzi attempt. He had a big-time denial on Nolan Cooleen with 2:44 to play that helped seal the deal for the Bruins. Schlank has quick hands and looks very comfortable when taking away low shots.
“The defense in front of me, I think, is one of the best in the nation,” Schlank said. “They put me in a good position to make every save that I should. They just do a great job of getting kids where I want them.”