No matter who came out on top, it would have been difficult to feel anything but appreciation for the winner of Monday’s ISL championship game between No. 3 Nobles and No. 8 Gov’s.

It only took one batch of ISL playoffs for Gov’s to set the standard for future Cinderella runs. After getting in by way of Rivers pulling out at the last second, Gov’s upset No. 1 Belmont Hill and No. 4 St. Sebastian’s in two all-time classic games to get to Monday’s title bout.

As for Nobles, the resilience shown by this pack of Bulldogs throughout the past two years has been one of the more inspirational storylines in the high school/prep lacrosse world. After star attackman and senior captain Chad Palumbo (Princeton) overcame cancer just before the start of the season, Nobles got off to a 2-3 start with defeats to Trinity-Pawling, Rivers and Belmont Hill. Is it any surprise that the ‘Dawgs rebounded from their slow to start with eight wins in their final nine regular season games to finish 9-4 (9-2 ISL)? Not in the slightest. 


King Chad

On Monday, Palumbo put the finishing touches on the ultimate comeback story; recording six points (four goals, two assists) and helping the Bulldogs to a 16-8 victory to win the ISL.

Leading 12-8 going into the final quarter, key saves by junior goalie Matt Tully (Cornell) along with goals from Palumbo, Roman Tacelli (Colorado College), Thatcher Bernstein and Henry Tweedy allowed Nobles to shut the door.

“It’s pretty overwhelming,” said Nobles head coach Matt Rowley. “We had no idea what our team was going to look like. Our best player {Chad Palumbo} had cancer in the fall and we weren’t sure if he was going to be back. We had lost a lot at defense {to graduation}. We had a lot of guys step up from sort of out of nowhere. Our defense is sort of a no-name defense and they just did an incredible job. Will Canavan and Colin Norton on the wings and playing short stick defense, just an incredible team effort. We knew we could score goals, we just didn’t know how we were going to get the ball. We did a great job playing six-on-six defense and getting the ball up and out. I’m overwhelmed, I don’t even know what else to say.”

Gov’s Jabs, Nobles Uppercuts Early

Thanks to dominance at the face-off X by Owen Umansky (Harvard) throughout the ISL playoffs, Gov’s was able to jump out to fast starts against both Belmont and Seb’s en route to upset victories. Once Tyler Maillee put home a beautiful around-the-world goal off a feed from Brock Geraci less than a minute in, it looked like more of the same was to come. Instead, Nobles responded with five straight goals to seize a 5-1 lead, even with Umansky controlling the faceoff stripe (24-of-28). 

McClements tied the game at one with a power move inside off the ensuing face-off win by Ben Clarke, followed by a low-to-high crank from Palumbo to put Nobles in front 2-1. A dump-in by McClements at the crease off a feed from Will Laughlin made it a 3-1 game, followed by a man-up tally from Tacelli off a feed from Palumbo. Another strong power move and finish inside by McClements made it a 5-1 game and forced Gov’s to take a timeout.

“We haven’t always done that,” said Rowley. “We’ve gotten off to some pretty slow starts against some good teams. It’s something we’ve talked a lot about. The kids did everything that was asked of them the whole way. They took all the coaching and just wanted to be great. I’m so proud of them. It was an amazing long-term effort by them to get here and then finish the job.”

‘Rome’ Was Built For Today

Pearse MacDonald broke a double-team and ripped home a goal up high following the timeout. Nick Berglund pulled Gov’s within two with a fast break goal off the ensuing face-off win by Umansky. A beautiful crease dive goal by Tacelli in the final minute pushed the Nobles lead back to three at the end of one. 

“‘Rome’ {Roman Tacelli} stepped up big today,” said Rowley. “He’s a senior and knows what it takes to win games like this. He just did an excellent job contributing in both ends. When we needed a big play made, whether it was getting the ball out defensively or scoring a big goal, he delivered. I’m really proud of him.”

Back-to-back goals by Umansky and Matt Collina brought Gov’s within two at 7-5, but a response goal came from Tweedy down the left alley gave Nobles a three-goal edge at halftime. 

With Nobles leading 11-6 late in the third, a pole goal by Ian Olenik (Providence) followed by a dump-in by Umansky off a steal from Maillee trimmed the deficit down to 11-8. Brody Upton (Princeton) brought the lead back to four at the end of three by finishing a feed in front from Josh Gangi (Union).

Pedal to the Floor

The fourth quarter saw Gov’s begin to run out of gas, and Nobles took full advantage. A series of penalties led to man-up goals by Tacelli, Tweedy and McClements as well as Palumbo’s fourth of the day on a fast break. Tully pitched a fourth quarter shut out before giving way to senior Peter Del Col (Haverford) with a minute to play. The clock hit zeros, the Nobles students rushed the field in celebration and the Bulldogs won the inaugural ISL championship game by a final of 16-8.

“We came out in that fourth quarter determined not to let them back in it,” said Palumbo. “{Matt} Tully made some big saves and got the ball up field to us and we were able to put it away with that transition goal and some man-up goals after they took some penalties on the ride. I’m just so proud of our team. Definitely the most fun group I’ve ever been a part of. I’ll remember this forever.”

Nobles – Governor’s Standouts

Roman Tacelli ’22, midfield, Nobles / Laxachusetts / Colorado College 

The senior capped his high school career with a bang. Tacelli recorded a hat trick and an assist, including one of the prettier plays of the day late in the first quarter with an athletic crease dive goal. When he wasn’t chartering flights through the Gov’s crease, Tacelli was causing turmoil in the defensive end and forced multiple turnovers with precise stick checks and great lateral movement. His versatile blue collar style will be a welcomed addition to Colorado College’s midfield next spring.

Owen Umansky ’23, faceoff, Governor’s / Laxachusetts / Harvard

Umansky went 24-of-28 at the face-off X, so Gov’s definitely did not lose this game due to a lack of possessions. After transferring in from St. John’s Prep, Umansky flipped from Ohio State to Harvard just before the start of the season. He has crafted himself into a true offensive threat along with being a dominant face-off guy.

Thatcher Bernstein ’25, attack, Nobles

Bernstein plays way beyond his years. His build and rugged style is similar to that of fellow attackman Grayson McClements (Penn). These two both welcome contact and have no problem scoring ugly. Head coach Matt Rowley must have a lot of confidence in Bernstein, as the freshman was given the ball twice at the start of the fourth quarter with Nobles looking to put the game away, and both times he delivered. Bernstein’s second goal of the day came with 9:12 to play after eating a series of checks while he drove into the middle of the box before ripping home a shot high. On the next Nobles possession, Bernstein drew an early slide with a hesitation move and dumped a shovel pass to Henry Tweedy to set up another insurance goal. Bernstein is going to be a problem for ISL defenses for the next three years.

Chad Palumbo ’22, attack, Nobles / Princeton / West Coast Starz

After battling cancer throughout the summer and fall, there was no guarantee Palumbo would even play this spring, so the fact that the Princeton commit even suited up for Nobles this season was incredible. Now, Palumbo goes out an ISL champion after recording 80 points (51 goals, 29 assists) and finishing tied with Grayson McClements for most points in the championship game (six). There really is not much else that can be said. Chad is the man and an inspiration to us all.

Grayson McClements ’23, attack, Nobles / Penn – NLF No. 86 ’23

McClements has to be one of the most frustrating guys to defend in the entire country. He’ll hit you with a bull dodge and power his way to the cage for an easy dump-in, and then the next time you’re matched up he’ll completely change his approach and sting home a shot from distance. It helps having guys like Palumbo and Brody Upton (Princeton) to feed the ball off to, but McClements’ stat line of three and three says all you need to know. He’s an elite all-around attackman.

Matt Tully ’23, goalie, Nobles / Cornell – NLF No. 63 ’23

Perhaps forgotten about due to the big performance by the Nobles offense, no player had a greater impact in either defensive zone than Matt Tully. The Cornell commit recorded 20 saves and legged out several hard nosed clears himself to keep the boys fired up. Tully’s aggressive style and willingness to use his legs were the backbone of Nobles defensive unit all season long, and he’ll be a guy they continue to rely on in 2023.

Pearse MacDonald ‘24, attack / midfield, Governor’s / Laxachusetts

The ISL playoffs as a whole were a big-time coming out party for MacDonald, who netted a game-high five goals in the first round against No. 1 Belmont Hill as well as another three goals and two assists against No. 4 St. Sebastian’s in the semifinals. Nobles did its homework and had MacDonald doubled for a good portion of the first half. Even so, MacDonald still produced a pair of goals, including a magical escape out of a double-team followed by a rocket into the top-left corner of the net. Gov’s offense is young and still growing. MacDonald is going to be its nucleus for the next two years.

Noble and Greenough 16, Governor’s Academy 8

Noble and Greenough – 6 2 4 4 — 16

Governor’s – 3 2 3 0 — 8

Noble and Greenough

Chad Palumbo ’22 (West Coast Starz / Princeton) 4 goals, 2 assists
Grayson McClements ’23 (NLF No. 86 ’23 / Penn) 3 goals, 3 assists
Roman Tacelli ’22 3 goals
Thatcher Bernstein ’25 2 goals, 1 assist
Henry Tweedy ’23 2 goals
Brody Upton ’23 (Princeton) 2 goals 
Will Laughlin ’23 (Colorado College) 2 assists
Josh Gangi ’22 (Union) 1 assist
Colin Kenney ’25 1 assist
Matt Tully ’23 (NLF No. 63 ’23 / Cornell) 20 saves


Pearse MacDonald ’24 2 goals, 1 assist
Owen Umansky ’23 (Laxachusetts / Harvard) 2 goals, 24-of-28 face-offs

Tyler Maille ’24 1 goal, 1 assist
Matt Collina ’24 1 goal
Ian Olenik ’22 (Providence) 1 goal
Nick Berglund ’24 1 goal
Brock Geraci ’25 2 assists
Ben Baroni ’22 1 assist
Andrew Almquist ’24 8 saves