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The NLF is back!
Many of the country’s best teams in the 2025 through 2029 grad years made the trip to the Blue Sky Sports Complex in Middletown (N.Y.) last weekend for the NLF Summer Kickoff.
Tuck Gilbane sends a low-to-high 🚀 to the moon in OT to give @LXCMinutemen the 2025 championship at the NLF Summer Kickoff! pic.twitter.com/goZHOxoolx
— NLF (@natlaxfed) June 6, 2021
The two oldest divisions both had their championship games need overtime to determine a winner. Laxachusetts did the honors in the 2025 division, beating Team 91 Long Island Shock on a low-to-high howitzer from Tuck Gilbane (Noble and Greenough, Mass.). Long Island Express Channy overcame a late two-goal deficit to head to the extra frame, where Anthony Mancaruso did the honors with an overhand stepdown rip into the low corner.
Team 91 Long Island swept the three youngest brackets, with the ’27 Machine steamrolling everyone in sight on its way to the 2027 title. The ’28 Venom and ’29 Pride also came away with titles.
Splash for the OT winner!
Anthony Mancaruso with the overhand cannon to win it for @expresslacrosse in the NLF Summer Kickoff ‘26 title game. pic.twitter.com/cOk0HbGjOY
— NLF (@natlaxfed) June 6, 2021
CLICK HERE for highlights from the 2025 title game.
CLICK HERE for highlights from the 2026 title game.
CLICK HERE for highlights from the 2027 title game.
Here’s a breakdown of 10 standouts from the weekend from the four teams that made the playoffs. The NLF is back at it on July 14 with the Elite 120 showcase at UMass for the best 2023s in the land. The NLF National Championships are set for Friday-Sunday, July 16-18, also at UMass. College coaches from all of the best schools in the country are expected in attendance at those events. The 2019 National Championships featured 235 college coaches, a then-record smashed that fall by the NLF Fall Invitational, which welcomed 339 coaches.
Preston Evans, attack, Belmont Hill (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
Laxachusetts’ biggest strength is that there are no glaring weaknesses anywhere and offensively, they’re a pretty balanced group that can beat you in a bunch of ways. Despite that, Evans is clearly the bellcow of the offense and his skillset reflects that of a coach’s son. The son of former Brown three-time All-American and Laxachusetts coach and recruiting director Dave Evans, the lefty gave defenses fits as a dodger and shooter off the wing. He showed that he could thread the needle with his passes on a more than a couple of occasions, but it wasn’t just about the stat sheet plays. He takes pride on the ride – no free clears here – and rarely turns the ball over. He’s got an advanced IQ and almost always makes the right play.
Other NLF Summer Kickoff 2025 Standouts
Jack Donovan, goalie, Germantown Academy (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH
Donovan backstopped HHH into the semifinals with a bevy of impressive 1v1 saves. On top of that, he came up with just about every save that you’d expect him to. Donovan was also outstanding in the outlet game, dropping dimes into his teammates’ sticks to get transition going. He also communicated well with his defenses, constantly directing the traffic in front of him.
Hunter Kimball, midfield/attack, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Team 91 LI Shock
Physically, Kimball isn’t the biggest offensive threat – particularly not on a team with some players who have really shot up in the past year – but he was an absolute problem for defenses throughout the weekend. In Saturday night’s showdown for the No. 1 spot, he burned Big 4 HHH for three goals, including a bardown screamer out of the corner. He eats short-sticks for breakfast but can separate from poles, too, with his agility and short-area quickness. You also have to love his fiery, emotional nature. When the Shock scores a big goal, you’ll easily hear him front and center in the celebration.
Connor Kuttin, attack, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Long Island Express
The latest standout in the Kuttin household – older brothers Sean and Kevin starred at Chaminade and are now both at Yale – the youngest of the group kept the family tradition of scoring goals alive and well. Kuttin, who recently returned to the field after a broken collarbone, ran the show for the Express. He’s adept at both feeding – he did a really nice job of always keeping his head up for teammates – and scoring. Kuttin’s presence opens things up for his teammates, but he also showed that he could consistently beat the man in front of him.
Chandler McClements, goalie, St. Sebastian’s (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
McClements has completely reshaped his body in the past year, losing some 60 pounds, and the results are eye-popping. No goalie stole more sure goals all weekend long than McClements. He uses his tall frame to take up real estate, but he also showed very good feet, excellent patience and poise when there’s chaos around him. McClements had maybe a half-dozen point-blank stops and completely altered the game’s trajectory in Saturday’s finale against Long Island Express. Trying to beat him from outside was almost a waste of time. McClements was a showstopper all weekend long, including a handful of great saves in the title game against 91 Shock.
Owen Mears, attack, Malvern Prep (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH
Tough news if you were expecting Malvern Prep to fall off much after graduating the likes of Eric Spanos (Maryland) and Will Peden (Penn State) at attack. Looks like the Friars are going to reload… again. Mears, a good-sized lefty, was a problem for defensemen all weekend long in helping HHH reach the semifinals. He’s tough to stay in front of and showed a hammer from the outside to go with the ability to change planes to keep goalies guessing. He was the catalyst of the HHH offense and the sky’s the limit for him.
Gary Merrill, midfield, Bayport-Blue Point (N.Y.) / Team 91 LI Shock
Merrill has seen some varsity time as an eighth-grader for a very good Bayport-Blue Point team, and that’s clearly given him plenty of confidence. He’s a tall midfielder who loves to take his man on up top to open things up around him. Merrill is – rightly – very confident with the ball in his stick, and he got his fair share of goals throughout the weekend in a couple of different ways. He can let it fly when he’s got a time-and-room stepdown. Merrill also faced off a decent amount and he’s not just looking to muck it up at the X. He’s got legitimate faceoff skills and his versatility will make him a prized recruit down the line.
Anthony Raio, midfield, Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.) / Team 91 LI Shock
Raio was an immediate problem for defenses as an eighth-grader on varsity this spring, scoring 24 goals and adding 12 assists for Hills West. That carried over to the NLF Summer Kickoff. Shorty him at your own peril. It is a decidedly bad idea for your defense to do that. He’s got some size to him and a good first step, and he did a really good job of leveraging his body in tight spaces to create separation. He had a couple of impressive goals in the semifinals against rival LI Express that were almost mirror images of each other. Raio took a shorty on the lefty wing, easily beat him downhill and got back inside to finish.
Ethan Train, goalie, Noble and Greenough (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
Yes, both Laxachusetts goalies made the list. If history has taught us anything, it’s that there aren’t many, if any, programs that produce better goalies than LXC. The lefty was excellent throughout the weekend, working with McClements to only yield four goals total on the first day. A very vocal, competitive goalie who leads the defense, Train came up with fair share of outstanding saves. He’s built a reputation as a big-game goalie, one that he backed up on Sunday with some timely saves in the semis and final.
Brady Winter, midfield, Horace Mann (N.Y.) / Long Island Express
Winters was in the thick of things for the Express all weekend long. He excelled as an alley dodger, consistently getting downhill to his spot and unleashing hard, heavy shots. Once he decides that he’s going, Winters doesn’t waste any time and always dodges hard. He was Express’ most consistent midfield scoring presence.
Dennis Brady, goalie, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / Long Island Express
Gavin Cooper, defense, Haverford (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH
Jojo Filardi, defense, Half Hollow Hills West (N.Y.) / Team 91 LI Shock
Thomas Giannotti, goalie, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Long Island Express
Tuck Gilbane, attack, Noble and Greenough (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
George Kelly, defense, Scituate (Mass.) / Laxachusetts
Sal Santoro, goalie, Team 91 LI Shock
Logan Turley, midfield, Malvern Prep (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH