The first NLF rankings for the class of 2023 are here!
We’ve made a couple changes, too. Traditionally limited to players on NLF teams or who played at NLF events, the rankings are now open to anyone in the country. We’ll be unveiling the rankings in reverse order in groups of 10. It starts with this group of 60-51, for players 60-11. Then, we’ll be featuring the top 10 players with their own feature story. Who’ll sit atop the first set of rankings? You’ll find out soon.
We will also continue to assign star and numerical rankings to players, an industry standard for recruiting coverage of all sports. We’ve tweaked our numerical rankings since the last ’22 rankings to properly reflect how special players have to be to be ranked in the top 60 players in the country.
Ready? Here are players ranked Nos. 51 through 60. Click the links below to see the other lists.
Jersey Takeaway Artist
No. 60 Jake Melchionni, LSM, Delbarton (N.J.) / Leading Edge (Highlights)
Still trying to figure out whether Melchionni is a lefty or a righty because his stickwork with either hand is THAT good. The Green Wave sophomore is an elite on-ball pest with a knack for taking the ball away on seemingly every possession. He’s tenacious, persistent and aggressive, and ground balls anywhere in his zip code are his. Like a lot of LSMs these days, he can be a bit of a gambler when he goes for a flashy check, but the rewards far outweigh the risks with him. If he can add some size, he’ll be special.
No. 59 JJ Aiello, midfield, Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) / Team 91 LI Bandits (Highlights)
One of the biggest midfielders in the class at 6-2, 210 pounds, Aiello has the size and strength to bully any short-stick defensive midfielder in a 1v1 matchup. A starter at BBP since eighth grade, he does a good job of initiating contact and using his body control to create separation inside. The lefty also keeps his head up and often finds the open man. Giving him time and room is not an advisable strategy, either.
6-6 Midfielder with a Sick Handle
No. 58 Brody Upton, midfield, Noble and Greenough (Mass.) / 3d New England (Highlights)
It’s not hard to notice Upton, because 6-6 midfielders don’t exactly grow on trees. It’s not just his height that makes him special, though. He has a knack for scoring highlight-reel goals, which is in part due to his box background that has helped him protect his stick and unleash shots in tight quarters. He’s not the fastest middie out there, but he does a good job in the clearing game by often barreling his way through the ride.
Poised Between the Pipes
No. 57 Declan Monahan, goalie, Gonzaga (D.C.) / MadLax DC Dogs (Highlights)
A calm, poised goalie with plenty of big-game experience, Monahan doesn’t really seem to get fazed by much, and he’s really tough to beat on low shots, quickly and efficiently dropping to take them away. He tracks the ball well when it’s firing out of shooters’ sticks, and minimizes mistakes in the clearing game by mostly sticking to short, simple passes.
Lefty Mismatch at the X
No. 56 Jackie Weller, faceoff midfield, IMG (Fla.) / MadLax DC Dogs (Highlights)
A springy, athletic faceoff man who can get to any 50-50 ground ball and collect it himself, Weller scooped up an All-Star nod at the NLF at IMG while playing up with the ’22s after recently transferring to IMG. The lightning-quick lefty was also lights-out at the X for the tournament-winning DMV team at the Nike National All-Star Games last summer. He’s not a huge fast break threat, but he has a nice array of moves and counters, and he makes good decisions with the ball in his stick.
Two-Way Difference Maker
No. 55 Aidan Wooley, midfield, Westminster (Ga.) / Thunder LB3
Named the 2023 tournament MVP at the NLF at IMG event – he also ripped home a hat trick in the All-Star Game – Wooley is a do-it-all midfielder who can make an impact all over the field. He does a nice job of dodging with his head up and finding the open man, can score lefty or righty and also takes pride in his defense.
“I try to play two ways,” Wooley said after IMG. “I start on the wings and try to get a ground ball. If I get stuck on defense, I try to lock it up and maybe get a save and a clear. Get down the field, get my head up when I’m dodging or try to get inside off-ball. I like to push it in transition a lot. If I see a matchup, I’ll take it and 6 on 6, I’m always trying to find a seam and put the ball in the back of the net.”
No. 54 Andrew Kohlbrenner, attack, Christian Brothers (N.Y.) / Orange Crush
Kohlbrenner has the potential to score a whole lot of goals in college, particularly with his ability to score in a million different ways. The solidly-built righty can sting corners from the wing, get inside and score while taking hit and score just about any other way. He’ll really be dangerous if he can add a half step of quickness to complement his handle, finishing ability and deceptively good passing skills.
Brick Wall in the Cage
No. 53 Phillip Verdi, goalie, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Long Island Express (Highlights)
A thickly-built goalie with a knack for coming up with big saves, Verdi has shined at a number of events in the past six months, including when he was named an All-Star at the NLF Futures at IMG. Betting on a Chaminade goalie has worked wonders for college programs in the past, and Verdi should be no different. He’s excellent on low shots and does an outstanding job of cutting down angles and putting himself in the right position to make tough saves look easy.
Dynamic Two-Way Athlete
No. 52 Will Erdmann, midfield, Berkshire (Mass.) / Eclipse
Blessed with great speed and athleticism, Erdmann provides Eclipse with a mismatch between the lines with his ability to get up and down the field. He also provides solid defense. He has an excellent on-the-run shot and has the ability to consistently get separation from defenders to get his shot off. He’s a perfect shot-clock era midfielder at the next level.
Difference Maker at Two Positions
No. 51 Luke Michalik, LSM/Defense, Brunswick (Conn.) / Prime Time
At 6-2, 180 pounds, Michalik has a prototypical frame to grow into, and he has the ability to run with much smaller attackmen and midfielders. He can seamlessly play either position, earning an All-Star nod as an LSM at the NLF Futures at IMG event, showing the skill to easily vacuum up a ground ball off the carpet on one possession and flashing great footwork and physicality on another. You’d like to see him be more of a transition threat with the ball in his stick, but the raw tools are all there to make that happen.