There’s no mystery about it.
Long Island Express Schwalje‘s success in the class of 2024 is rooted on the defensive end. As a team, Express has the ability to suffocate even the most explosive offenses in the country. When they’re dialed in, it’s nearly impossible to find any kind of space to work with on the offensive end. You go somewhere, and it feels like three guys are pressuring the ball carrier with nowhere to pass.
Express’ defense lived up to its lofty billing once again in the NLF Fall Invitational finale, shutting out Thunder in the opening quarter and only ceding one goal in each of the last three frames to come out on top with a 6-3 win.
Another Elite Prospect from St. Anthony’s
The defense is the star of the show, and even as part of his loaded group, defenseman Tommy Snyder stood tall, figuratively and literally. The younger brother of Express ’22 goalie and Fairfield signee Will Snyder has to be on any short list of the top ’24 defensemen in the class.
Snyder was front and center throughout, helping to stymie a skilled Thunder offense. He’s big, rangy and mobile. He slid well and also showcased a silky handle with a couple of smooth ground balls off the carpet. Snyder’s one of those defensemen that can cover just about anyone. He takes one stride when his matchup needs three, but he’s got the size to rock an attackman backwards if anyone tries to get physical with him.
“We’ve been playing together since fourth grade,” Snyder said. “We’ve got great coaching and we all just know where we’re going to be at all times. Slides are perfect, we have good middie defense and overall, we just play well together. We started off slow (in the first game), then picked it up in the second game. Overall, it was a great way to end the fall.”
Langton Fuels the Offense
Express can get it done offensively, too. Owen West (South Side, N.Y.) got the scoring started with the first of his two goals on the day with a gem of a spinning backhander while cutting across in transition off of a feed from Jack Connolly (Chaminade, N.Y.). Quinn Langton (St. Anthony’s, N.Y.) led the offensive charge with two goals and a helper, while Patrick Arnold (Manhasset, N.Y.) and Jake Riglietti (St. Anthony’s, N.Y.) also pocketed goals.
Thunder’s defense was no slouch, either. The Georgia squad played a physical game and did a great job of slowing down Express’ offensive guys. When possessions and goals are at a premium, it’s particularly important to value the ball, and Langton was in charge of doing just that.
“It’s very tough playing against a defense like that when they’re physical and play good team defense,” Langton said. “We keep our composure and we find the open man, get our picks and get good looks. The picks backside always help us, look for the open man and finish our chances.”
Langton is the son of Towson Hall of Famer and 1996 No. 1 overall pick in the NLL Draft Tim Langton and the younger brother of Express ’22 and Army commit Colin Langton. Like his dad, he’s more worried about scoring goals, and it worked out well. A shifty dodger with good vision – his assist came on a gorgeous skip pass – he projects as a versatile offensive weapon who will keep defenses on their toes in all situations.
“I like to describe my game as good eyes, I find the open man all the time and I like to consider myself a good dodger,” Langton said.
It all worked out well for Express in their finale.
Long Island Express-Thunder Standouts
Quinn Ball ’25, faceoff midfield, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Long Island Express
The younger brother of former Express ’20 standout and current Yale sophomore James Ball, Quinn Ball showed that he’s picked up a thing or two from his brother. He’s tenacious and scrappy but also has an advanced understanding or where to place the ball. He started to string together some wins, and not so coincidentally, Express started scoring more. Ball stays low to the ground and uses his wings well. He doesn’t quite have James’ all-around game yet, but he’s no slouch with the ball in his stick, either.
Ethan Fisher ’24, defense, McCallie (Tenn.) / Thunder
Fisher is rock solid on the back end. He’s powerful enough to take on physical dodgers and quick enough to match feet with the smaller attackmen. Fisher really likes to get out and press on the wings and he caused some havoc out there, too, knocking the ball out a couple of times. He plays under control and is a very effective cover man.
Matthew Marchetta ’24, LSM, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Long Island Express
Marchetta was outstanding for Express, making an impact all over the field in the way that you’d expect your LSM to do so. He picked up a couple of ground balls with relative ease, ran very well in the open field and seems to play hard every time he’s on the field. He had a particularly impressive play where he got the ball, ran it down the field and finished off a transition effort with a one-more feed to Jake Riglietti for a dunk on the crease. Marchetta also had a couple of very good slides to disrupt Thunder’s offense.
Seth Maxwell ’24, goalie, Starrs Mill (Ga.) / Thunder
Maxwell was Thunder’s first-half goalie and came up with a number of impressive saves on some tough shots. The lefty is very poised and smooth in the cage, rarely wasting movement and easily tracking shots. He was tested early with a couple of high shots and passed with flying colors. Maxwell has quick hands and explodes to the ball well, and he did a great job of keeping Thunder in it early.
Long Island Express 6, Thunder 3
Long Island Express 1 2 2 1 – 6
Thunder 0 1 1 1 – 3
Long Island Express Stats
Quinn Langton (St. Anthony’s, N.Y.) 2 goals, 1 assist
Owen West (South Side, N.Y.) 2 goals
Patrick Arnold (Manhasset, N.Y.) 1 goal
Jake Riglietti (St. Anthony’s, N.Y.) 1 goal
Matthew Marchetta (Chaminade, N.Y.) 1 assist
Jack Connolly (Chaminade, N.Y.) 1 assist
Michael Muscarella (South Side, N.Y.) 7 saves
Zach Chari (McCallie, Tenn.) 1 goal
Matthew Scruggs (Buford, Ga.) 1 goal
Jack Frischmann (Allatoona, Ga.) 1 goal
Seth Maxwell (Stars Mill, Ga.) 5 saves
Alex Trujillo (Pace, Ga.) 5 saves