MASSACHUSETTS — The Independent School League consists of 16 of the top academic private high schools in the country, with 15 schools residing in Massachusetts, along with St. George’s School (Rhode Island). Along with being some of the top private high school education high schools in the country, the ISL has become a hotbed of high school lacrosse, since its inception in 1989.
Traditional league power, The Belmont Hill School (Belmont, Mass.) (13 ISL Championships – most in league history) and 2017 & 2019 ISL champion, St. Sebastian’s School (Needham, Mass.) have battled for the top of the ISL for the past five seasons, and this past weekend’s matchup was a much-anticipated event, that had the lacrosse community in Massachusetts buzzing.
Friday’s game lived up to all the early-season hype, coming down to the final minute of play with Belmont Hill leading by a goal with 48 seconds remaining in the game. Belmont Hill made one final defensive stand, executed a perfect clear – against Seb’s 10-man ride, and take the first of a two-game, home-and-home series, by a score of 9-8.
“They do a lot of stuff well, including their 10-man ride, and it took us a while to figure out their stuff – into the second half,” Belmont Hill 11th year head coach Tim Sullivan said. “When it counted, we got that big clear at the end with (senior midfielder) Brooks Rayment (Colby) to ice the game.”
Rayment was an important piece in Friday’s win as a two-way game and especially excelled in the clearing game. The Arrows’ difficult 10-man ride, and Belmont Hill improved against it throughout.
Defense Doesn’t Rest
The Belmont Hill defense was the story in the first half, holding Seb’s to three goals, behind the strong play of senior Mike Marinello (Fighting Clams/St. Lawrence) Marinello dueled sophomore Seb’s goalie Ryan Williamson ’23 (Laxachusetts) – as both stood on their heads at times in front of two of the best defenses in the ISL.
Belmont Hill senior attackman Zach Travaglini (Laxachusetts / Boston University) provided three goals in the first half of play, and Belmont Hill received a balanced effort offensively from their midfield and attack units.
“It was a knock-down, drag-out, big boy ISL battle,” Sullivan added.
After missing the 2020 season due to pandemic restrictions, the 2021 ISL season has arrived and in splendid fashion. With an unorthodox 2021 ISL schedule, which features numerous home-and-home matchups against league rivals, Belmont Hill made a loud statement on Friday.
Friday’s Box Score & Statistics
Box Score (Friday, April 23, 2021) at St. Sebastain’s – Needham, Mass. 4 pm
Belmont Hill – 3 3 2 1 – 9
St. Sebastian’s – 1 2 3 2 – 8
Zach Travaglini – 3 Goals, 1 Assist
Adam Figler – 2 Goals, 2 Assists
Braden Reilly – 1 Goal, 2 Assists
Ethan O’Neil – 1 Goal
Brooks Rayment – 1 Goal
Charlie Cave – 1 Goal
Eli Goldstein – 1 Assist
Michael Marinello – 14 Saves
Ted Harrington – 2 Goal, 1 Assist
Tommy Armstrong – 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Aidan Maguire – 1 Goal, 1 Assist
Sam Frisoli – 1 Goal
Cormac Wright – 1 Goal
Tim Blue – 1 Goal
Matt Swirbalus – 1 Goal
Jack Rideout – 15-of-19 faceoffs won
Ryan Williamson – 15 Saves
Check out some additional highlights of Friday’s game – courtesy of First Scout.
@stsebslax v. Bel Hill highlights: https://t.co/c6jqZYBru1
— First Scout (@FirstScoutFilm) April 27, 2021
Saturday’s rematch between the two squads saw a similar start to Friday’s game, as Belmont Hill got out to an early lead while earning a 6-3 lead at the half. Timely strikes and defensive execution were the stories early, as both teams looked to gain a deciding advantage.
In typical Seb’s fashion, however, the Arrows drew to within one goal in the second half, but Belmont Hill proved to be too strong – and the veteran leadership and experience of Travaglini, defenseman Grant Litchfield (Lehigh), defenseman Trey Brown (Boston University) Marinello, and company withstood the Arrows’ final run, holding off their league rival and earning the 13-9 win in Saturday’s rematch.
Travaglini scored five goals to lead Belmont Hill’s offense, while Seb’s faceoff midfielder Jack Rideout (Michigan) ’22 owned the faceoff X, as he did all weekend long.
Check out some additional highlights from Saturday’s rematch, courtesy of bBigBroadcast
@BelmontHillLax remains undefeated with back to back wins against St. Sebastian's last weekend. Tune in to @bBIGBroadcast this Friday at 4:30 for their game against @roxburylatin. @BelmontHill pic.twitter.com/BDqeOe44qv
— Jeff Lane (@jefflane90) April 28, 2021
Top Standouts from Belmont Hill-St. Sebastian’s
Zach Travaglini ’21, attack, Belmont Hill /Laxachusetts/Boston University (game one highlights vs. Seb’s)
Travaglini was spectacular all weekend, as he continued his torrid start scoring three goals to go with an assist in Friday’s 9-8 win, followed by five more goals in Saturday’s victory. The BU commit now has 10 goals and four assists through three games to start 2021. Travaglini is finding success generating offense scoring chances from both the wing and from X, as he has shown off his relentless motor, to go along with his fearless and calculated play.
Mike Marinello ’21, goalie, Belmont Hill / Fighting Clams / St. Lawrence
Marinello shined brightest on Friday, making 14 saves, amid an impressive team defensive effort. He was at his best stopping balls, reading perimeter shots, and adjusting to the different looks that Seb’s threw at him. Marinello, a St. Lawrence commit, has opened a lot of eyes early in the season with his standout play.
Grant Litchfield ’21, defense, Belmont Hill /Laxachusetts / Lehigh (opening game highlights vs. Rivers)NLF No. 19 ’21
Litchfield, who starred in Belmont Hill’s opening game win over Rivers (see highlights above), stood tall again last weekend as a vocal leader and physical presence in Belmont Hill’s varying defensive looks. The most impressive part of Litchfield’s game was his constant motor and willingness to lay his body on the line for his team. On multiple occasions, the Lehigh-bound defender dove for endlines and sidelines, while saving numerous balls from going out of bounds.
Jack Rideout ’22, faceoff, St. Sebastian’s / Laxachusetts / Michigan – NLF No. 26 ’22
Rideout was dominant all weekend in all facets of the faceoff game, as he was nearly perfect on Friday and again gave Belmont Hill fits at the X on Saturday. He battled talented faceoff men, long stick midfielders, and multiple schemed efforts – to secure valuable possesions. Rideout combines his excellent faceoff skills with speed and strong stick skills, which make him one of the most dangerous weapons in the ISL.
Ryan Williamson ’23, goalie, St. Sebastian’s / Laxachusetts
Williamson shined bright in Friday’s 9-8 loss, as the sophomore made 15 saves and several key stops in the second half. Williamson is the complete package in net, and he showed off his immense talent, keeping Seb’s in the game throughout Friday’s game. He displayed timely and accurate precision in the clearing game and started multiple transition goals for Seb’s with his lightning-quick release of the ball. His athleticism, size, and ball-stopping ability made it very difficult for Belmont Hill, especially in the second half of Friday’s game.
Other Standouts from the games
Adam Figler ’22, attack, Belmont Hill / 3D New England
The junior attackman had a coming-out party this weekend, as he showed his versatility as a quarterback from X, a distributor, and attacking dodger from X. He worked well with Travaglini, rotating positions and giving the Seb’s defense multiple looks.
Adam Figler! What a move and finish. 9-7 Belmont Hill with 8 minutes left on the clock. @bostonlaxnet pic.twitter.com/lwonxDGEYG
— Ryan Kilian (@masspreps) April 23, 2021
Charlie Cave ’22, midfield Belmont Hill / 3d New England /Brown
The speedy lefty was aggressive in both games, as he used his explosive first step to attack from the top of the box. Cave can finish on the run with the best of them – he loves the alley dodge – and had success with deceptive shot placement.
Trey Brown ’21, defense, Belmont Hill / Laxachusetts / Boston University
Brown is one of the top poles in the ISL, and he showed off his complete game this weekend, working with Litchfield and Tom Goguen ’22 in the stout Belmont Hill close defensive unit. The future Terrier also excelled off the ground and in the clearing game.
Jimmy Freehill ’21, defense, St. Sebastian’s / Fighting Clams / Denver
The four-year starter and Denver commit is coming off an exceptional preseason. He is a steadying force, who provided Seb’s with leadership and strong play all weekend.
Aidan Maguire ’22, midfield, St. Sebastian’s/Laxachusetts/Duke – NLF No. 19 ’22
Maguire is as dangerous as any midfielder in the ISL, as he showed off his ability to change speeds and use his strong, athletic frame – to get where he needs to go. The Duke commit is dangerous every time he touches the ball and is a threat from all areas of the offensive zone.
Aidan Maguire (video) and Matt Swirbalus go back-to-back for Seb’s to cut the Belmont Hill lead to 6-5 late in the third. @bostonlaxnet pic.twitter.com/QH1cNHZRnt
— BostonLax (@bostonlaxnet) April 23, 2021
Sam Frisoli ’21, midfield, St. Sebastian’s / Laxachusetts /Tufts
Frisoli had a couple of nice goals this weekend, showing his ability to make teams pay by unloading on stepdown looks when they give him too much room.
What a rocket from Sam Frisoli to cut the lead to 8-7 Belmont Hill to open 4th. @bostonlaxnet pic.twitter.com/prChsiEfkH
— Ryan Kilian (@masspreps) April 23, 2021
Around the ISL
Unbeaten Teams: Middlesex (Concord, Mass.), Noble & Greenough (Dedham, Mass.), Tabor (Marion, Mass.), and Governor’s (Byfield, Mass.) have all started their seasons with unbeaten records. Traditional powers Middlesex, Governor’s and Nobles – and league newcomer, Tabor – all have a great mix of veteran experience and young and exciting underclassmen talent, which should prove to be an exciting 2021 in the ISL season.
Highlight Worthy: George Fulton ’21, defense, Middlesex / 3D New England / Virginia
The Virginia commit helped lead Middlesex to a 3-0 start while showing off his versatility and unique skillsets for a 6-foot-6 athlete. Fulton has been a complete defensive standout, showing he can be aggressive (see highlight below) and also disciplined while leading the Zebras’ defense in front of star goalie and Ohio State commit Oran Gelinas ’22 (Laxachusetts / Ohio State)
We played Lawrence yesterday in our 1st game of the 2021 season and won 14-4. Clip #1 is of George Fulton ‘21 (@UVAMensLax ‘25) clearing and then scoring. Clip #2 is of Will McCarthy ‘21 (@middmlacrosse ‘25) scoring off the fast break.@Athletics_MX @bostonlaxnet #gozebras pic.twitter.com/h5pIF4nVkb
— Middlesex Boys Lacrosse (@MXSchoolBVL) April 19, 2021
Early Season Heroics: St. Mark’s midfielder Ryan Winters ’23 (Laxachusetts) scored the game-winning goal in overtime, as St. Mark’s defeated Groton School 7-6 last weekend.
Teamwork: Tabor Academy shows that strong goalie play, from Tim McNamara ’21 (Laxachusetts / Denver), can lead to positive results on the other end – in a hurry.
T. McNamara->S. McCarthy->E. O’Neil!! Defense was stout and Offense was opportunistic!! Great team win 12-2!! @taboracademy @taborathletics @EvanOneil12 @timmcnamara52 @shaymcc5 @bostonlaxnet @NELaxJournal pic.twitter.com/NOAbUJlVKG
— Tabor Academy Lacrosse (@TaborLax) April 27, 2021
The Elite 8: The ISL is loaded with senior long poles this season, which begs the question: Who is the top pole n the ISL? We have eight top senior poles listed below, with some highlights. You can’t go wrong with this special group.
Groton’s Ronan Doherty ’21, Laxachusetts/Notre Dame (Highlights) NLF No. 20 ’21
Seb’s Jimmy Freehill ’21, Fighting Clams/Denver
Rivers’ Greg Dennison ’21, Fighting Clams/Providence (Highlights)
Belmont Hill’s Grant Litchfield ’21, Laxachusetts/Lehigh (Highlights from Game 1) – NLF No. 19 ’21
Belmont Hill’s Trey Brown ’21, Laxachusetts/Boston University (Highlights)
Middlesex’s George Fulton ’21, 3D NE/Virginia (Highlights)
Nobles’ Tate Seeman ’21 BH ’22 – Fighting Clams/Air Force (Highlights)
Tabor’s Seamus McCarthy ’21, ’22 – Laxachusetts/ (Highlights)