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The biggest week of the summer is in the books, and what a week it was!
The NLF Elite 120 was the perfect kickoff event to the NLF National Championships at UMass. A ton of the country’s top players were in attendance for the invite-only Elite 120, and several of those players will find themselves in our next set of expanded 2023 rankings that will be released next month.
We’ll have PLENTY more coverage from the week, too, but we’re starting it off with a look at some of the players that stood out the most from the Elite 120. Check back again soon for more content from the week that was at UMass.
If a player has a profile on NLFrankings.com, it is hyperlinked in his name. If not, his highlights are hyperlinked in his name.
NLF Elite 120 Standouts
Henry Brayer, faceoff, Torrey Pines (Calif.) / West Coast Starz
Brayer was paired with SweetLax Florida standout Brady Wambach (more on him below) and that didn’t leave a whole lot of faceoff wins for Team 1’s opponents. Brayer blew up for perennial SoCal powerhouse Torrey Pines this year, winning 87 percent of his faceoffs, and that trend continued at the Elite 120. He used his quick hands to usually win the clamp forward and is very comfortable with the ball in his stick. Brayer pushed the pace well and even tossed in a goal or two, showing that he’s way more than a FOGO.
Chouinard is at home when operating from X, GLE or out of the corner on restarts, and his high IQ helps him be a threat as both a scorer and a feeder. He placed his shots well and had a game where he had at least four goals and an assist. He did a great job of getting top side on his dodges while keeping his head up for an open man on the back side. Chouinard has filled out some in the past six months or so, and he’s noticeably more confident with the ball in his stick. He continued to improve his stock with a great day at Elite 120.
If you see Fitzpatrick about to unload a shot, run for the hills. He’s not overly big, but the lefty somehow packs an enormous punch on his shot, and it helped him tally the third-most goals on Long Island this spring with a 51-tally campaign. Fitzpatrick did a nice job of cutting off ball and he brings plenty of toughness and grit to the party. He’s at his best, though, when given a little time and room to step down and rock the net with his shot. Fitzpatrick started off a little slow with his accuracy and then really picked it up as he got more comfortable.
Connor Foley (Thayer, Mass. / @LXCMinutemen) continuing his push to be the No. 1 ‘23 goalie at Elite 120.
Bunch of impressive saves. Never shuts up. Buzzes out of the crease. Almost went coast-to-coast for a goal on a recent clear. pic.twitter.com/1fcBHgc7JS
— NLF (@natlaxfed) July 14, 2021
He’s a very well-known commodity on the NLF circuit and no stranger to standout performances, but it’s impossible to overlook how good Foley was at the Elite 120. Nobody makes more highlight-reel 1v1 saves than Foley, and he was up to the task again on Wednesday with a handful more stops that should have been easy dunks for the offense. His unpredictability makes him a tough keeper for shooters to read, and you’ll never catch him lacking energy and leadership. He’s always commanding the defense, and on the other side, he’s always the one getting the boys going after his team scores a goal.
It feels like every defenseman or LSM on the Crabs’ ’23 team is north of six-feet, and Johnson is part of that trend. A tall, rangy LSM with room to fill out, Johnson gobbled up ground on the wings and covered a ton of ground all day long. He can turn and run with anyone and gets his stick on hands really well. Johnson handled the ball well in traffic, too.
You notice Lyght right away because he’s 6-3 and close to 200 pounds, and then you watch him play and see footwork and agility that mirror those of a much smaller guy. Because of that, it’s no surprise to hear that he’s a very good basketball player, too. Lyght did a nice job of matching feet with attackmen and keeping his stick on gloves. He can leave guys in his wake pretty quickly when he gets the ball in the open field, too. If he can add a little more snarl to his game, he could be a true No. 1 guy down the road.
Peter Moynihan, attack, Taft (Conn.) / 2Way
Moynihan has pieced together an outstanding summer on the heels of a strong spring, and the X attackman from Taft was excellent throughout the day at Elite 120. He dodged with his head up and found open teammates on draw and dumps in addition to skip passes to set up step downs. Moynihan is very elusive on his dodges and put a couple of defenders in the spin cycle before taking the ball hard to the rack and finishing. He’s not the biggest attackman, but he’s not afraid of getting to the dirty areas to get the job done, and he was a fiend in the riding game all day long.
— NLF (@natlaxfed) July 14, 2021
Pacheco, who started as a sophomore for the Lakers’ MIAA title-winning team, showed off why he’s regarded as one of the country’s top midfielders. It’s rare to see a big-time midfielder so committed to the defensive end, but Pacheco uses his size and athleticism to harass opposing middies on the back end. He acquitted himself very well on defense and in transition, and he showed that he’s added more and more offensive pop to his game. After a slow offensive start on Wednesday, he kicked it into high gear with some impressive goals where he powered his way to the rack to finish on a couple of occasions.
An All-Inter-Ac selection as a sophomore – that’s really, REALLY impressive – for Germantown Academy this spring, Schwartz is a menace between the lines and absolutely not the guy you want to be hanging your stick around. The lefty goes hard all the time and made a lot of splash plays as a result. He was excellent off the ground, as usual, and loves getting physical with opponents. Schwartz is a major asset on the wing and in the middle of the field. He showed off the sandpaper in his game and constantly made opposing midfielders uncomfortable.
A first-team all-state selection as a sophomore, Smith already boasts an imposing 6-1, 185-pound frame, and he used every bit of it to his advantage when covering at the Elite 120. For a bigger guy, he did a good job of staying low in his stance and keeping attackmen at bay. He’s extremely physical with dodgers at GLE and plays with an active stick and he threw an array of timely, precise checks, including a good one on this caused turnover.
Wambach has firmly entrenched himself in the conversation amongst the top faceoff midfielders in the 2023 class. The nephew of U.S. Soccer legend Abby Wambach, the SweetLax Florida standout showed a wealth of exits throughout the day, used his wings very well and was able to win the lion’s share of clamps with his quick hands. A well-built, compact presence at the faceoff X, he uses his strength well, and he also showed that he’s got a good shot. He’s an athletic faceoff guy who competes for every ground ball and doesn’t shy away from chasing them down.
Winkler had a monster year for Connecticut Class L state champion Ridgefield, where he’s coached by Hall of Famer Roy Colsey. Winkler popped off for 56 goals and 28 assists for the Tigers, including the game-winner in the state title game against Fairfield Prep. His box background is very evident in the way he plays. He’s got a very good handle and operates well in tight spaces, and the lefty needs only a sliver of space to snap a goal home. He went off for four goals in the first game at Elite 120, including the game-winner. Winkler dodges very hard and gets to the middle of the field with relative ease. His shiftiness and quickness gave defenses fits.
Ben Beacham, midfield, La Costa Canyon (Calif.) / West Coast Starz – NLF No. 22 ’23
Wyatt Glass, attack, Duxbury (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
Thomas Gravino, midfield, Victor (N.Y.) / SweetLax Upstate
Walker Hunter, goalie, Shore (N.J.) / Leading Edge
Maddox Johnson, midfield, Ponte Vedra (Fla.) / SweetLax Florida
Nick Johnson, attack, Kent Denver (Colo.) / Denver Elite
CJ Reilly, midfield, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) / LI Express – NLF No. 49 ’23
Elijah Stobaugh, midfield, Salisbury (Conn.) / SweetLax Florida
Brayden Stroh, midfield, Taft (Conn.) / West Coast Starz
Brek Thielen, midfield, Cherokee Trail (Colo.) / Denver Elite
Zackary Waxman, attack, Dexter Southfield (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
Owen Umansky, faceoff midfield, St. John’s Prep (Mass.) / Laxachusetts