Founders League heads to Greenwich for the PSLS

The sun beat down on a beautiful day at Brunswick school as almost 400 uncommitted lacrosse players from all over the nation went head-to-head in hopes of securing an offer, or at least attention, from a collegiate program.

Split into 16 teams, the players are guaranteed four games when they register, and can only be registered following a coach’s recommendation. With 40 players from the Founders League competing in the showcase, each field was always brimming with top-notch talent.

Coaches from all the top programs were in attendance, so a good day from any one player could very well land them a spot on a collegiate roster upon concluding prep school. But a poor performance doesn’t necessarily condemn them, either.

“We seem them several times over the summer,” said head coach John Paul of Michigan. But with so many coaches coming from so many different programs, certain players are bound to attract interest based off their abilities.

So what’s Paul look for?

“The first thing that jumps right off the page is athleticism,” he mentioned. “How do they move, transition. Speed.”

And what will get a guy crossed right off your list? “Poor stick skills or low lacrosse IQ.” But even some of the most talented players take off their helmets and may find themselves crossed off someone’s list—and maybe even before that.

“You get a sense of their character while they’re out there. A lot of the process comes after you bring them to your program, once you get to know them as people. But you do get a sense of their character on the field. How they react to negative and positive situations, interact with teammates, how they work with the team?”

The positive and negative situations were plentiful, as many games were tough, hard-fought photo finishes, while others were

Coaches scouting the next big thing.

Coaches scouting the next big thing.

unfortunately lopsided. But no matter what the outcome, coaches are watching. And even with a lot on the line, these types of showcases are necessary in many cases.

“I really hope to use this summer to figure out where I am going to school, and this is a really good opportunity against really good opposition for me to showcase my skills,” said Avon Old Farms LSM Nate Usich. Usich is coming off a championship season with the Winged Beavers, and despite being a junior, it was one where many began to take notice of his lock-down play on the defensive side of the game.

So is it fair to say he’s improved since last season? “Certainly. I put a lot of hard work in over last summer and during the season. Early morning workouts and workout sessions. It’s really shown. I had a great season. I’m having a great summer. I definitely think I’ve gotten better.”

But Usich didn’t start out at LSM. He was given the green light to switch from a traditional defensemen to LSM, and Usich is loving the change. “At LSM, you can do a lot more transition, and having good ball-handling skills is something I’ve always prided myself on. And now I get to use that to my advantage. You’re in the transition, you can get goals. At midfield, you have a couple extra seconds, and I use that to get in, strip, and play my game.”

Tenney

Tenney (left) in action

Also at the showcase was Taft’s Thomas Tenney, a 2017 attackman who notched 13 points last season, 5 goals, 8 assists. Tenney seemed to make the most of his opportunity down in Greenwich, showing off his good hands and dodging ability.

For Trinity-Pawling, rising senior Chris Nolan looked to be a standout on his team, as his grittiness was evident throughout his game. In the faceoffs for which he lined up, the Ontario native rarely seemed to lose, and his hard-nosed style of play was energetic and efficient.

Two Founders goalies wound up on the same team and split time between the pipes. Of Westy’s Max Powers and Taft’s Hanley Frantz, the latter certainly seemed to enjoy a better outing in the 12:00pm game on one of the primetime fields. Hanley, the bigger of the two, used his size well to block off the goal and even showed off his 40-yard-dash time right in front of the scouts as he sprinted down field for a clear. He followed that up with back-to-back saves on two tough shots.

Another Westminster goalie was also in attendance, and it was rising senior, future captain, and goalie Dylan Moser. Moser knew the level of play would be high, and it didn’t disappoint.

“So many coaches and so many good players at the showcase. This is a great way to start off the summer. It was hard to believe some of the players I played with were not committed already. Hopefully, that will change for them soon.”

For goalies, playing on grass isn’t always as forgiving as turf. Was there any discomfort in the transition?

“I play on turf almost all season at Westminster. It was fun to play on grass again at Brunswick. Turf is great and ball bounces true, but grass is more comfortable when the temperatures go up.”

With so many eyes on the players, expectations can sometimes weigh on the players. But that is something that Moser is familiar with.

“I am pretty competitive, and as a goalie, I know every game depends on me to keep the ball out of the cage. Technically, every game could be a shutout if I play flawlessly.”

Moser’s highlights can be found here.

“We take lacrosse pretty seriously here at Westminster, so winning is expected even with competition as tough as the Founders League. There is a lot of pressure to perform. Westminster’s motto is “virtute et numine” (Grit and Grace). That is how we will play next season.”

This season, in Moser’s eyes was a tough one, but one to learn from.

The two words I would use [to describe the season] are “So close.” We lost some very close games to tough competition in the beginning of the season. Deerfield 4-5 in triple OT, Choate 5-6, and Taft 5-6. Lesser teams might have thrown in the towel after those losses, but they galvanized us and helped us to grow.”

“Coaches Peter Newman, Scott Duddy, and Todd Eckerson never let us get discouraged. They kept us focused on the little things that can impact a game. By the end of season, we were playing as a team, not a bunch of lacrosse stars. We never quit, and it paid off. We finished the season winning 6 of the last 7 games.”

A familiar grumbling from baseball and lacrosse stars alike is the lack of playoffs. Moser also added that he would like to see that implemented in the Founders League.

“I wish the Founders League had a league tournament at the end of the season. I know we would have surprised a few teams the second time around. Six losses is not an indicator of how great this team was.”

Westy also saw strong showings from Adrian Enchill, a lung-busting LSM out of Pittsfield, MA, and Ryan Seymour, a rising senior attackman who flashed great instincts in front of goal, burying a handful on the day. Enchill’s hardwork in midfield was noticeable, and the rising sophomore is going to be a factor in Founders League games for another three seasons. Seymour just looked sharp every time he was on the field. His cuts were decisive and deceiving, and he was ruthless in front of goal, finishing off several chances with only a half-second to react.

The tournament featured many Founders League players, and it was great to see such a strong turnout from the league. The tournament was put on by Tim McDonnell and Prep School Lacrosse Showcase, and it served as a great opportunity for many of the young and talented (and uncommitted) athletes to make a name for themselves on one of the biggest stages possible this summer.