Finally got to go through all the players at D1 programs and were able to narrow down the list to a Top 15, with some Honorable Mentions . . . they are ALL D1 players who spent most of their high school time in the state of Florida.
It was a solid year of production and impact for the state, but obviously it was unlikely anyone would have replicated Jared Bernhardt’s Tewaaraton Trophy performance last year.
There are ten players who could have been considered, and the difference between #15 and the first few out were pretty close, but it wasn’t as hard for me to do this as was last year.
Let’s start with the Honorable Mentions:
The three closest to cracking the Top 15 were Drew Mayts, of Mercer and Plant HS, Jared Chenoy of Richmond and St. Thomas Aquinas, and Devin Naidoo of Quinnipiac and Ponte Vedra. All 3 had nice seasons. Chenoy’s biggest negative was that his faceoff percentages varied widely, and a few of the games were not good. Overall, his FO% was .518. Mayts and Naidoo had nice numbers, but were topped by others with better numbers.
Others I considered but couldn’t include on the list were Yale/Benjamin’s Christian Cropp, Penn State/LHP’s Hudson Bohn, Providence/Oxbridge’s Jack Kilian, Brown/Benjamin’s Zander Valentini, JU/Ponte Vedra’s brother combo of Reid Smith & Devin Smith, Mercer/St. Andrew’s Carl Klepper and Marquette/Cypress Bay’s Anthony Courcelle, whose season ended with an injury.
#15 – Trace Hogan – Merrimack/Jupiter
Trace started immediately for Merrimack and started all 12 games, and there’s not a lot of Florida D1 kids who do that at the midfield position. He recorded 6 goals, 8 assists, 16 ground balls and caused 2 turnovers. A nice, all-around season for the former Warrior.
#14 – Nicholas Perez-Blanco – Merrimack/Belen Jesuit
Nicholas is a repeat on this list from last season and he’s been a starter since his sophomore year. As a senior he started all 12 games and recorded 1 assist, 16 ground balls and caused 12 turnovers. He’s been a consistent performer his entire college career.
#13 – Connor Purcell – Mercer/Hagerty
Connor started 14 of 15 games for Mercer and is part of a large contingent of Mercer players hailing from the Sunshine State. Connor scooped up 25 ground balls and caused 8 turnovers.
#12 – Matt Winegardner – Mercer/Maclay
Matt was frankly a surprise to me as I didn’t really get to know about him at Maclay. He only started 2 of the 15 games Mercer played, but his production coming off the bench of 16 goals and 9 assists was a heck of a sophomore year for this breakout player.
#11 – Zack Antoniou – Fairfield/Plant
According to the Fairfield site, Zach did not start any games, but he certainly made the most of his opportunities, as he scooped up 25 ground balls and caused a remarkable 19 turnovers coming off the bench. And he did this as a freshman, so look for more next year . . .
#10 – Mikey Berkman – Syracuse/West Orange
Mikey worked his way into the starting lineup this season and started all 12 games he played. He was usually the 3rd/4th option on an attack that featured a few PLL draft picks last month. He put up 14 goals, 9 assists, 18 ground balls and caused 2 turnovers.
Mikey has entered the Transfer Protocol, so we’ll see where he lands next year.
#9 – Jason Sullivan – Cleveland State/Dr. Phillips
For the 2nd year in a row, Jason proved hard work pays off, as he is certainly the most under the radar high school player on this list. Starting all 13 games for CSU, he produced 15 goals, 20 assists and 19 ground balls, while also being an assistant captain.
#8 – Wyatt Schupler – Army/Ponte Vedra
Wyatt has started for Army for a couple of years now and really had a breakout game this year against Syracuse in the dome, in Army’s road win (I believe he went 8 for 9 on saves in the 2nd quarter to keep Army in the game). Wyatt finished 12-4, with a .511 save%. He also scored a goal and an assist, with 32 ground balls and 3 caused turnovers.
#7 – Michael Adler – Duke/St. Thomas Aquinas
Mike slips ahead of Wyatt in the annual battle of best Florida goalie due to his higher save%, and while the ACC was down this year. it was still a tough road to travel. He started all 17 games, putting up an 11-6 record, .550 save%, 40 ground balls and 3 caused turnovers.
#6 – Ashton Wood – Mercer/Nease
Ashton is a repeat from last year and he clearly had the best FOGO stats of a Floridian this past season. He was only able to play 8 games before an injury ended his season, which kept him from possibly being higher. In those 8 games, he produced 7 goals, 1 assist, 83 ground balls and went .639% on faceoffs.
#5 – MJ McMahon – Utah/Cardinal Mooney
The crafty left-hander started all 14 games for Utah and produced 20 goals, 11 assists, 9 ground balls, and most impressively, 3 game winning goals! A true clutch performance. He also is a repeat member of this list and still has at least two years of eligibility.
#4 – Dylan Hess – Georgetown/Ponte Vedra
Dylan’s season took a turn towards less production due to being asked to play SSDM, as more of a two-way middie. Last year he played mostly on the offensive side, with some two-way play when dictated. Dylan’s 16 games only listed him as a starter 2x, which is normal for the SSDM position, and he put up 13 goals, 5 assists, 13 ground balls and caused 4 turnovers for the team ranked #2 at the end of the regular season. Unfortunately, Dylan’s Hoyas were upset in the first round of the NCAA’s.
#3 – Austin Strazzulla – St. Joseph’s/St. Edward’s
Austin was lower on the list last year, but did he break out this year. Starting 17 of 18 games for a team that took Yale down to the end in the NCAA first round, Austin put up big numbers from the midfield position, as he produced 24 goals and 18 assists for the Hawks. One memory of those who watched the St. Joe’s late season game at Penn would have been Austin clanging the crossbar in the last few seconds that would have won the game.
#2 – Eric Dobson – Notre Dame/Fleming Island
Eric’s season started a little slow, but he ended up red hot, with 10 goals in his last three games for the team that was likely the most controversial team left out of the tournament in the history of the brackets. Eric started all 12 games for the Irish and produced 22 goals, 10 assists and 7 ground balls.
And he still has at least two years of eligibility.
#1 – The tandem of Jackson Canfield and Will Jones – Vermont/Bishop Moore
Talk about a 1-2 punch (and no complaining about it!). I watched them dominate defensively at BM, as they reached an FHSAA semifinal and final in back-to-back years . . . both are high end close defenders. Jones has graduated and is in PLL on the Archers roster (thanks to each of you who pointed this out).
The two combined for an incredible 78 ground balls and 39 caused turnovers, with Canfield adding an assist. It’s pretty rare for two Floridians to combine like this at the D1 level.