For our last installment checking out NCAA prospects for the January 21 collegiate draft, here is a closer examination of top defensemen and goalies in the country.
Kevin Ridgway, Notre Dame
Pre-season All-American Ridgway uses his 6’6” frame to dominate opposing offenses. A starter since the first game of his sophomore season, his defensive unit that season ranked first nationally with a 6.19 goals against average. Last season, they ranked second with a 6.77 goals against average. The five given up to Princeton and Maryland early in the tournament were the fewest ever allowed in a tournament game by Notre Dame, helping Ridgway earn All-Tournament Team honors. Notre Dame will be relying on Ridgway to continue his shutdown defense as a senior, and MLL coaches will be watching closely.
John Lade, Syracuse
Lade, a U-19 World Champion in 2008, started his collegiate career at Villanova, where he made an immediate impact starting every game, collecting 53 ground balls and taking face-offs. Tranfering to powerhouse Syracuse did nothing to slow him down. As a sophomore he started every game, was first among the team’s close defensemen with 53 ground balls, and earned All America Honorable Mention. Last season, Lade was on the All America and All Big East first teams as he continued his key role in the ‘Cuse defense.
Ryan Flanagan, UNC
Coach Breschi has said, “Flanny could become one of the all-time greats in Carolina defensive history.” Of course, he had to throw in “one of” to be sure Bill Daye makes that list as well. Will this fellow Tar Heel catch Coach’s eye at the draft? Flanagan is certainly hard to miss – at 6’6”, he calls his height his best attribute as a lacrosse player. It served him well last season, in which he led the team in caused turnovers, was second in ground balls and won the William C. Schmeisser Award as the best defenseman in NCAA division I (an award he shared with Ken Clausen of UVA). With another season of collegiate play coming up, Flanagan is sure to be ready for the step up to the pros this summer.
Sam Barnes, Notre Dame
For anyone who watched the NCAA Final Four last May, it’s no surprise that there are multiple Fighting Irish on the list of the nation’s best defensemen. Barnes is a big part of the team's defense. As a junior, he was named All America Honorable Mention and All-GWLL first team. As part of the first ranked defense last season, he started every game and had 28 ground balls. Following his last season in South Bend, will this Branford, Connecticut native find a spot closer to home on the Cannons defense?
Brett Schmidt, Maryland
Schmidt shouldn’t have any trouble going toe-to-toe with the best of the MLL this summer – as a sophomore he won the Iron Terp Award, given to the strongest pound-for-pound player on the team. That year, he scooped 33 ground balls and caused 23 turnovers. As a junior last season, Schmidt started all 16 games for the Terps, raising his numbers to 36 ground balls and 23 caused turnovers, earning ACC 1
st team and All-Tournament team honors. With another year to increase skill and strength, Schmidt could be a dominant defensive rookie this summer.
Max Feely, Cornell
MLL crowds love coast-to-coast goals (hello, Brett Queener), and Feely, with two last season, seems to be getting ready to put on a show. Not to mention that one was a game winner in overtime to beat Loyola in the first round of the NCAA tournament. This came after a season that earned him All America Honorable Mention and All Ivy Honorable Mention. If he continues honing his shot, Feely should feel right at home in the MLL.
Bill Henderson, Army
Last season, “Big Bill” Henderson became the first junior captain in Army history. His coach says he doesn’t have much to say, but when he speaks, he has everyone’s attention, players and coaches alike. As a sophomore against Duke, Henderson held Ned Crotty scoreless. As a junior, he was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year. With another year to hone his skills on and off the field as a leader in lacrosse, Henderson would make an attractive option for MLL teams.
Check out what a Syracuse blog has to say about Big Bill.
Peter Fallon, Brown
Will Cannons goalie and Brown assistant coach Kip Turner give Fallon insider tips on making it in the MLL? Not that Fallon will need much extra help in the winning or leadership categories. In 2008, he was named Defensemen of the Tournament as a U-19 world champion. As a sophomore in 2009, he led the team with 59 ground balls and was named the team’s defensive MVP. Last season, he was awarded All-Ivy and All-New England honors (for the second year running). And, heading into his 2011 senior campaign, Fallon was named a tri-captain of the Bears. Enough said?
John Galloway, Syracuse
As a freshman, Galloway became the 5
th true freshman goalie ever to lead a team to the national championship. Where does a goalie go from there? Back to back rings, winning the second in dramatic OT fashion, just to make it more interesting. Though his junior season ended with the upset by Army (despite a school record 7.16 goals against average), Galloway continued racking up the accolades, including USILA most outstanding DI goalie, Big East goaltender of the year and the ESPN The Magazine academic all-america men’s at large second team. The Orangemen hope to regain their spot at the top, but either way Galloway is a no brainer for any team looking for fresh talent in the net.
Adam Ghitelman, Virginia
When Ghitelman started playing goal in fourth grade, could he have imagined that he’d make 19 saves against Canada to win a U-19 world championship? Or that his high school number would be retired? Or that he’d score his first collegiate goal against the eventual national champion Duke Blue Devils, as he did last season? Perhaps. Either way, it’s been an exciting career. And, after his senior campaign with the Cavaliers, it’s a career that should continue its success in Major League Lacrosse.
Tom Palesky, Army
Palesky certainly wins for most difficult sounding major we’ve seen so far: geospatial information science. And don’t mess with his family: his twin brother is also a senior at Army, his sister graduated from there in 1990, and his older brother is in the Air Force. Not to mention he’s a pretty good goalie. Last season, he was named Patriot League tournament MVP, leading his team to its first-ever tournament title. Coach Alberici calls him a relentless worker, and says his best quality is his leadership. After a season in which he’s sure to do all he can to bring his team even further into the NCAA tournament, Palesky should be poised to break into the professional arena.