Mac Christmas was admittedly a little bit reluctant to stop playing the only position he’d ever known since he started playing U7 lacrosse with his friends.
Christmas was no stranger to scoring goals as an offensive midfielder, but at one point he, his dad and MadLax DC Dogs coach Matt Rienzo had dinner. The topic on the menu was discussing a potential position change, one that Rienzo felt could make Christmas a bigger impact player.
Rienzo, an All-American defenseman at Georgetown who also coached for the Hoyas for a decade in addition to a year at Notre Dame, had a unique vantage point that led him to believe that Christmas could be a difference as a midfielder.
A long stick midfielder, that is. Convincing Christmas to make the switch, though, was another matter.
“I didn’t like it originally,” Christmas said. “I’d been playing with a bunch of friends since second grade. They put you on an O-middie line and you can stay on and play some offense. At first, I was going on and off, switching from pole to short stick. I liked to score and I liked to celebrate, so I wasn’t sure about pole.”
The Light Switches On
All it took was one special game to prove to Christmas what Rienzo had projected him to be. A showdown with the Baltimore Crabs, NLFRankings.com’s top-ranked 2023 team, showed what Christmas could be as an LSM.
“They were first or second in the country and I was taking all of the faceoff wings,” Christmas said. “I had, like, 20 ground balls and it was our first time beating the Crabs. It showed me that you can dominate and change a game at LSM.”
In about two years’ worth of time, Christmas has turned himself from a solid offensive midfielder to an LSM that’s rated as NLFRankings.com’s No. 8-ranked player in the 2023 class. He’s the No. 1 LSM in the class, a testament to the 6-4, 205-pound pole’s ability to leave his mark all over the field. He’s particularly good as an offensive threat in transition, pairing his prototypical frame with the speed to run by everyone in transition. His stickwork with the pole is ridiculous – a nod to his hockey background – giving him a chance on any ground ball in a crowd and as a shooter.
Scoring More Goals Than Ever
“I actually ended up scoring more goals as a pole,” the Georgetown Prep (Md.) sophomore said. “I started playing more and more with the pole because I wanted to be good enough to stay on the field. Last year (before Covid hit), I wanted to be good enough to make varsity since my brother Kevin (now at Tufts) was a senior. I just wanted him to drive me to games.”
It’s to be expected that Christmas has some flaws in his game that need polish that will come with more and more experience. By his own admission, he’s not an elite defender yet, but he’s all too willing to put in the work to become one. If he can pair all of his elite-level offensive qualities with exceptional defensive work, he’ll be an absolute nightmare to go up against.
“The defense part was really hard for me at first,” Christmas said. “I wasn’t even a D-middie or a two-way middie. I played hockey growing up, so ground balls were really easy for me. I’d just get it quickly. But I’ve been working on my defense, especially my 1v1 defense. I want to guard the best offensive midfielders.”
He’s come a long way from wanting to be the best offensive midfielder.
NLFRankings.com Class of ’23 Rankings
No. 8 Mac Christmas, LSM, Georgetown Prep (Md.) / MadLax DC Dogs
No. 9 Nate Kabiri, attack, Episcopal (Va.) / MadLax DC Dogs
No. 10 Jacob Pacheco, midfield, Boys’ Latin (Md.) / Crabs