It’s almost showtime for the class of 2024.
The service academies got an early start to recruiting ’24s on July 1, but for everybody else, Sept. 1 is the magic date. That’s when the remaining Division I schools can start contacting juniors.
We will be dropping the rest of the top 10 in this story. The other five-stars, players ranked Nos. 11 through 21, will be announced tomorrow. The remainder of the countdown, all the way until 120, will be announced Wednesday. For the second straight class, the NLF is considering all players nationally, not just those who play for an NLF club or have played at an NLF event.
With that in mind, here are players ranked Nos. 2 through 10.
There’s a really good argument to be made that no player was more consistently dominant this summer. McCarthy picked up All Inter-Ac honors as a sophomore – a very difficult feat – and got even better this summer. He picked up All-Star nods everywhere he went, including Maverik Showtime, One Percent (where he also got All-Star Game Defensive MVP honors) and Main Stage.
McCarthy has all of the exits, counters and technique that you’d expect from the top faceoff man in the class. However, it’s his size, athleticism and ability to play the field that sets him apart. McCarthy routinely takes faceoff wings – sometimes even as a pole (!) – when his Freedom running mate Ross Prince (Springside Chestnut Hill, Pa.) takes draws. At 6 feet, 185 pounds, he’s a total mismatch that can invert (!) from X. His first step is elite, and he excels at tracking down ground balls. McCarthy does a terrific job of working with his wing men to help get 3v3 ground balls.
“There wasn’t a player that consistently dominated every event the way that he did this summer,” one top-10 assistant coach said. “He was so good all the time. He impacts the game so much with everything that he can do.”
No offensive player in the class can do more than Ford, who pocketed 70 points on 38 goals and 32 assists in his first season as a starter for the Lakers. Ford has grown exponentially as a player in the past year. At 6-3, 180 pounds, he’s got the frame that you want in a big-time attackman. His vision, IQ and hands are elite, and he’s the type of player that helps everyone around him. Ford was lights-out at the National All-Star Games for tournament champion Maryland, including four goals and an assist in the title game.
Also a One Percent All-Star, he’s versatile because he can not only play X, but also be a terrific crease guy. He’s also intriguing to bring out of the box and pick on short sticks, something he showed that he could do when he rang up NLF at IMG All-Star honors. Ford’s biggest knock is his speed, and while he’s not a speedster, he has significantly improved his foot speed in the past year. He’s also filled out physically and is different in a class that has a ton of undersized attackmen.
“I think he’s the best player in the class because of everything that he can do,” said an assistant coach from an NCAA tournament team. “I love his intelligence and how he can do so many different things.”
There isn’t a flashier goal scorer in the class than Colsey. He racked up 56 goals and 39 assists for 95 points as a sophomore after breaking the FCIAC freshman scoring record with 101 points the year before. Colsey, tabbed as an All-American this spring, is lightning in a bottle with a sky-high IQ. He does an outstanding matchup of identifying weak spots in a defense and relentlessly attacking them. Colsey earned All-Star Game MVP honors at Maverik Showtime after a six-goal outing.
“He is ruthless,” said a head coach of a team that made the NCAA tournament last year.
Colsey’s shiftiness and speed allow the lefty to make up for his lack of prototypical size. Also a slot receiver for Ridgefield’s football team, Colsey is incredibly tough. He’s certainly not shy about shooting it, and a nitpick of his game might be that he sometimes shoots too much. On the flip side, it’s the guy that you want to have shooting the ball, especially with his ability to get shots off in traffic. He’s the top-ranked attackman on many schools’ boards, including some that have the best shot at landing him.
DiBartolomeo remains the most complete LSM in the class. He’s a ruthless assassin in the middle of the field, constantly hovering around the ball to wreak havoc and push transition. He plays the best defense of any LSM in the class, which helps separate him from his peers.
“I would say that Lucca is the full package,” former Malvern head coach John McEvoy said. “Everyone looks at him like an LSM, but I feel like LSMs sometimes get a bad rap. I think he could play down low. That’s what you value out of a defender, the ability to play down low or up top. Ultimately, though, you can’t not have him around the ball. He’s so good around the ball.”
McEvoy also lauded DiBartolomeo for his intelligence, something needed to play effectively in Malvern’s pressure zone defense. Another All Inter-Ac selection as a sophomore, DiBartolomeo and his twin brothers, short-sticks Peri and Roman, will make a school very happy if they can land the trio.
Perhaps no player finished off the summer stronger than Anderson. He saw a ton of playing time for top-5 Brunswick this spring and started off the summer well before getting injured. When he came back, there was no stopping Anderson. His nickname, “Bear,” is apropos for a 6-3, 200-pound lefty who’s a mismatch for defenses. Big defensemen can’t usually stay stride for stride with him. Smaller ones are privy to getting run over. Anderson has been dinged in the past for not consistently putting it together. At the NLF National Championships and NAL event, he dominated throughout, prompting one top-15 assistant coach to declare him, “the best player in the country.”
Anderson’s upside is still sky-high. For a big man, he moves very well, and he contorts his body well in tight spaces. Most comfortable dodging from the high wing, Anderson is an excellent time-and-room shooter. If he can become more of a threat with his right hand, he could become unguardable.
Laake had a terrific sophomore campaign for the Dons and looked poised for a monster summer before breaking his hand. He missed five weeks and when he came back, he was still very good but not quite where he was in the spring. With that said, a return to his best form seems inevitable. At 6-1, 200 pounds with a very strong lower body, he’s already physically built like a college defenseman.
Laake is so smart and cerebral that he always finds a way to put himself in the best position. He takes good angles, keeps his stick in front of him and can physically engulf smaller attackmen. Laake also does a really nice job of staying with smaller, shiftier attackmen, and his all-around game makes him one of the safest bets in the class. He’s a high-floor, high-reward recruit who fits in to any system.
Hublitz had an outstanding spring season, becoming a rare sophomore defensive starter at a school that pumps out elite defenders like nobody else. Unfortunately, he missed the entire summer with an injury. In a class with so much parity, missing your recruiting summer drops you a little bit. Despite that, he’s potentially the best college prospect in the class, marrying ideal size (6-3, 190 pounds) with the versatility to play anywhere on the defensive end and the nasty disposition that you want out of a defensive player.
Hublitz was lights-out at NLF at IMG in January, proving without a doubt that he’s an elite defensive prospect in the class. He covers, hits, has a very good stick and can push transition. He will still be a priority recruit for all of the heavy hitters on Thursday.
Like Hublitz, Duenkel had an injury that wiped out his recruiting summer. It’s why he also drops a little bit, and Duenkel is a fascinating prospect to watch. His lack of size hurts him in some coaches’ eyes. However, he racked up 80 points (51 goals, 29 assists) for the top team in the country this spring. Duenkel capped off that sensational sophomore season with an insane six-goal, one-assist outburst in the WCAC final against rival Gonzaga. It’ll be interesting to see how he recovers from his injury and how he adjusts to not having guys like Mac Haley (Navy) and Gavin Kelly (Drexel) around him next spring.
Two-Sport College Athlete?
A two-handed QB of the offense type, Duenkel does an excellent job of getting his teammates involved. He uses his shiftiness to keep defenders guessing, and he’s as good as it gets in the riding game in both his effort and understanding of what’s going on.
Duenkel is also one of the class of 2024’s top football kickers. He could play both sports in college. He has a ton of connections to Virginia, which has hosted him on a football visit before, but he will consider other schools as well.
The first of three five-star goalies, Stevens vaults into the top 10 after putting forth an outstanding summer for Leading Edge. He stopped 69 percent of shots this spring in his first year as a starter for Pingry. Then he got even better this summer.
Stevens helped backstop Leading Edge to the 2024 title at the NLF Summer Kickoff, then did more of the same as they won Laxachusetts’ Legacy Invitational. At 6-2, 185 pounds, he has a prototypical frame for a goalie. Despite that, he considers himself better on low shots, which is a scary proposition. Stevens has shown a penchant for completely taking over games. He did just that in the NLF National Championships with Leading Edge down at halftime in a winner-makes-playoffs game. Stevens didn’t give up a goal and made close to double-digit saves, including a half-dozen point-blank stops.
“Everyone’s been calling me about him. He’s as good as anyone we’ve had come through the program, and we’ve had guys like (Georgetown All-American) Owen McElroy, (Rutgers All-American and PLL goalie) Colin Kirst, (former Providence multi-year starter) Toby Burgdorf and (Villanova multi-year starter) Will Vitton,” Leading Edge director Chris Roy said. “He was as good as anyone I saw on the circuit. He’s big, takes up a lot of the goal and has a knack for big saves in big moments.”
Stevens has gamebreaker potential and has shown time and time again that he’s capable of coming up with some incredible highlight-reel saves. A high-academic type, he’ll be of significant interest to the Ivies, among others.