Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan (shot of Connor Mooney, UMass)
Last year, after the NCAA Tournament, I wrote a piece on college seniors who hadn’t been drafted but definitely had Major League Lacrosse potential. Back in 2013 I was able to see a lot of these great players at the USILA North South All-Star Game, a fantastic event held at Championship Weekend. Shortly after, many of them were picked up by MLL teams. Here’s a few guys from the list, and where they ended up, from a year ago:
Ryan Snyder, FO, Lehigh: Denver Outlaws
Dillon Ward, G, Bellarmine: Hamilton Nationals / Florida Launch
Mike Noone, D, Lehigh: Ohio Machine / Charlotte Hounds
Jack Forster, A, Penn State: Chesapeake Bayhawks
Brandon Palladino, LSM, Dickinson: Chesapeake Bayhawks / Charlotte Hounds
Tim Schwalje, M, Penn: New York Lizards
Jack Rice, A, Villanova: Boston Cannons
Jordan Houtby, LSM, Detroit: Ohio Machine
Since so many of these players were picked up last year, I thought it would be appropriate to do a piece on some of the guys from this year’s senior class who may have been overlooked… so far. Hopefully some of these guys will be given a shot in Major League Lacrosse, like their North-South counterparts from 2013 above!
Thomas Croonquist, FO, Villanova: Croonquist appeared in every single game of his college career at Villanova, and was an impact player for all four years. Last season, he won 56% of the faceoffs he took and earned First Team All Big East honors, and this year he won 51% of the faceoffs he took with All Big East Tournament Team honors. Croonquist scored three goals, dished out four assists, and led his team in groundballs with 84. He also played in the North South All Star Game, in which he dominated the faceoff X and scored two goals, including one right off of a faceoff. Sometimes he would even go out on the wings and play short stick defense. His ability to create transition off of faceoffs and play defense is valuable to any MLL team. Chesapeake currently has the lowest faceoff percentage in the league, but drafted Yale’s Dylan Levings. Still, Croonquist would be a good option for Chesapeake as a solid backup or complement to Levings.
Tyler Knarr, LSM/FO, Georgetown: Knarr is probably the most dynamic player available. He is a talented long stick midfielder, but throughout his college career he transitioned into one of the best faceoff guys in the NCAA. He does all of the things that other great faceoff guys do, but with a long pole. Sending Knarr out to faceoff is a win-win situation for an MLL team. If he wins, something he is very capable of doing, he can push transition just like a short stick. If he loses, then the opposing team’s faceoff specialist is immediately being guarded by a pole. Knarr won 62% of his faceoffs over his four years at Georgetown, including a mark of 66% this year. He also led the NCAA in ground balls per game, and was named a Third Team All American. A player like Knarr could find a place with any team in the league. He also played in the North South All Star Game, in which he faced off with success against Yale’s Dylan Levings and Adelphi’s Greg Puskuldjian.
Brian Feeney, G, Penn: As a four year starter, Feeney has been the brick wall of the Ivy League for the Quakers. For the past two years, he was First Team All Ivy League, and this year he was named a Third Team All American. He made 532 saves and stopped 55 percent of the shots that came his way this season, enough to lead his team to an Ivy League Title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Feeney also averaged 10.87 saves per game. Throughout his career, he was constantly keeping his team in games and making clutch saves down the stretch. Feeney would be a great goalkeeping option for the Bayhawks, a team that typically struggles in the cage while Kip Turner is still coaching in the early part of the season.
Here are some other players with the potential to make it into the MLL:
Mike Melnychenko, A, Chestnut Hill
Andrew Chadderdon, M, Le Moyne
TJ Tynan, M/FO, RPI
Gill Connors, G, Qunnipiac
Connor Mooney, M, UMass
Shane Sturgis, A, Penn State
Jack Runkel, G, Loyola
With the player pool soon reopening, keep an eye out to see if any of these guys are picked up by an MLL team. Let’s hope so!