The MLL Draft is quickly coming up on the lacrosse world as the temperature drops and snow falls from the sky. Last year, the attack position had several high impact players including Duke’s Jordan Wolf and St. John’s Kieran McArdle who both seemlessly transitioned from the college game to the professional level. Albany’s Miles Thompson and Virginia’s Mark Cockerton were also key contributors for their respective MLL teams.
This season, the attack position boasts just as many impact players as last season and dare I say it, may be even better than the 2014 draft class. The 2015 class features a surefire franchise player in Lyle Thompson, who gets a chance at becoming the first player to win back-to-back Tewaaraton Awards as he returns for his final year at Albany. It also features several top flight players such as Lehigh’s Dan Taylor and Denver’s Wesley Berg, just to name a few. Here is a list of the 2015 draft class at attack.
1. Lyle Thompson, Albany—Thompson will no doubt be the No. 1 overall pick by the time the MLL Draft rolls around. Thompson was the best player last year and should be again this season. If Thompson wins again, he would join Syracuse’s Mike Powell as the only two-time winner and as mentioned before, the only player to win the award in two straight seasons. Thompson may not replicate his massive numbers from last season (128 points) because of the loss of Miles and Ty on the attack line but that won’t mean that he can’t put up at least 90-plus points. It really says something that he could have 90 points and have a “down” season.
2. Kevin Rice, Syracuse—Rice is a little better of a feeder than a goal scorer but make no mistake, the guy can still score when asked. He handed out 44 assists last season and scored 36 goals and he saved his best play for the second half of the season when he had a streak of tallying at least six points in six straight games. His best play came against UNC, Duke and Cornell showing that he elevates his game when it matters.
3. Richie Hurley, Siena—Not many people have probably heard of Hurley but he ranked third in the nation in assists last year with 46. Despite the lack of strong opponents on the schedule, he only had two games where he recorded two points or fewer. Otherwise, he tallied at least four points against every other opponent that he faced. He scored four goals to open the season against Syracuse and had four assists in the last game against Bryant.
4. Dan Taylor, Lehigh—The crafty Canadian stands at 6’3″ and 207 pounds. Taylor saved his absolute best play for the final six games of the season. During that time frame, Taylor had five goals against Princeton, eight points against Georgetown, eight points against Army and four points in the final game of the season against Loyola. Taylor should continue to shine as the entire offense comes back for Lehigh in 2015. He could easily finish between 80 and 90 points this season.
5. Wesley Berg, Denver—Another Canadian makes the list as Berg led the Pioneers with 68 points on the season, 48 of which found the back of the net. Berg is one of the best finishers in the nation and could really flourish this year with the entire offense outside of Jeremy Noble returning to Denver. Berg could easily lead the nation in goals scored with his only competition coming from Thompson and Loyola’s Nikko Pontrello.
6. Wells Stanwick, Johns Hopkins—Everything on offense for the Blue Jays starts and ends with Wells Stanwick. Outside of Thompson, Stanwick is the best passer in the nation. He had 44 assists compared to 23 goals last season and should benefit from a little family bonding time with No. 1 overall recruit and little brother Shack joining him on the attack line. Stanwick works very well in the two-man game behind the cage which Hopkins featured a lot last season. additionally, he can beat any zone with his incredible vision. On the right team, he could play the same role that Justin Ward played for the Charlotte Hounds this past MLL season.
7. Nikko Pontrello, Loyola—Pontrello is the epitome of a goal scorer. Pontrello finished fourth in the nation in goals with 49 and handed out only nine assists. It will interesting to see how he adapts to a possible new role as Justin Ward graduates. Ward was often the one finding Pontrello for the goals in 2014.
8. Mike Rooney, Stony Brook—Rooney falls a little bit under the radar because he plays at Stony Brook who hasn’t had a lot of team success since their run in the NCAA Tournament several years ago. Rooney is both a goal scorer (32 goals) and a passer (26 assists). Rooney leads an offense that brings back two other 50-point scorers and two 40-point scorers as well.
9. Matt Donovan, Cornell—Donovan led the Big Red to an 11-5 record last year despite all the preseason turmoil from the hazing incident that led to their head coach being fired after the fall. Donovan scored 34 goals and added 23 assists for a total of 57 points. Donovan was the featured player on Cornell’s attack line and always drew the opposition’s No. 1 defender and still put up great performances. In fact, he had one game of one point and one game of two points. Otherwise, he never tallied less than three points throughout the season. He also had his best performances of the season against two of the best teams in the ACC when he had five points against Virginia and four against Maryland.
10. John Glesener, Army—Glesener really made a name for himself down the stretch in the Patriot League Tournament and against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament. He has an absolute cannon of a shot. There is not a shot he will not take and make. In fact, a two-point shot in the MLL may be considered a layup for Glesener. At the end of the season, he had six points against Bucknell and Lehigh and seven in the first round loss to Notre Dame. It will be a treat to watch him bomb two point shots in the MLL and torch college goalies this year.
11. Joey Sankey, UNC—Don’t let Sankey’s size fool you at all. Despite being 5’5″ and 160 pounds, he often draws the No. 1 defender from the opposition. He may be the shiftiest player in the nation and is an expert at turning the corner at goal-line extended and sting a corner from little-to-no-angle. He was far and away the best offensive player for the Tar Heels as he had 56 points as the second highest scorer, Jimmy Bitter, recorded 38 points. Sankey played well against everyone but had his two best performances against Maryland, Virginia and Johns Hopkins towards the end of the season. He recorded four, five and seven points respectively against those top ranked foes.
Other notable names to watch: Randy Staats, Syracuse (53 pts), Conor Doyle, Notre Dame (51 pts), Conrad Oberbeck, Yale (50 pts), Keith Dryer, Air Force (47 pts), Ryan Walsh, Colgate (45 pts) and Tristan Sperry, Fairfield (45 pts)