NALL Draft Results And Analysis: First Look

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Connor Wilson playing with Justin Otto last winter.

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The North American Lacrosse League held their initial draft yesterday and the results were EXTREMELY interesting.  I thought there would be a lot more “big time” field lacrosse names selected, and I definitely thought we’d see more recent NCAA D1 guys get drafted, but now that it’s over, the selections are starting to make a whole lot more sense.  Names weren’t drafted, and neither were colleges… it was ALL about whether or not they guys could play box lacrosse.  Well, at least for the most part anyway.

We’ll start out with the Charlotte Copperheads, who are managed and coached by Tom Ryan, former NLL player and all-time leading scorer at Bowdoin College.  He used to be known as “the white guy with dreads”.  But enough about Tom’s hair… let’s get to Tom’s team.  Each player will be listed with their college after their name and with the round, and overall pick number in parentheses before their name.

(1, 5) Greg Rogowski – Merrimack,  (2, 6) Matt Smalley – Hobart, (3, 12) Ethan Farrell Lynchburg, (4, 18) Eric Holt Penn State, (5, 24) Brekan Kohlitz Michigan, (6, 30) Charles Jacobs Onondaga CC, (7, 31) Tim O’Connor Boston College, (8, 37) Spencer Wims – Limestone, (9, 43) Matt Hickman – Salisbury, (10, 49) Nick Desper – Syracuse, (11, 55) Kevin Iwanusa – Pfeiffer, (12, 56) Brett Queener – Albany, (13, 62) Tory Stevens – Irving, NY, (14, 68) Mike McLellan – Mercyhurst College, (15, 74) Greg Watterson – Wingate, (16, 80) Mark Burnett – Mars Hill

Charlotte did well.  Really, really well.  I personally think Rogowski will be the best offensive player in the NALL (assuming he doesn’t show up in the NLL somewhere) and Ethan Farrell is a definite baller and GREAT third round pick.  Iwanusa, O’Connor, Hickman and Queener all have a range of box experience and Brett Queener could be a fantastic Transition guy for any NALL team.  He’s got NLL experience and should be able to shine and lead in the NALL.  He might be the top player picked up outside of the first 8-10 rounds.

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Greg Rogowski takes the ball to the hopper for "Mack in 2009.

Next up we have the Hershey Haymakers, and with all their selections of former NYC ULax box lacrosse players, they quickly became my favorite team in the NALL. Yes, I am basing my favorite team on how many of my friends are playing for each team. That’s fair and totally normal right?

(1, 2) Jamie Plunkett – Ontario, (2, 8) Peter Poupe – Prague CR, (3, 14) Patrick Janson – University of Colorado, (4, 20) Andrew Wasik – Pace, (5, 21) Josh Rachman – Florida State, (6, 27) James Synowiecz – Manhattan, (7, 33) Mike Simon – Stevenson, (8, 39) Brett Moyer – Hofstra, (9, 45) Jeremy Seiverts – Maryland, (10, 46) Damien Davis – Princeton, (11, 52) Matt Toth – Newman College, (12, 58) Justin Otto – Manhattan, (13, 64) Evan Swiker – Stevens Institute of Technology, (14, 70) Adam Miller – Savannah College, (15, 71) Peter Cannon – Georgetown, (16, 77) Chris Gill – George Mason

Wow.  I like Hershey’s picks!  Plunkett just finished up a ELL season and was a top player.  Poupe is like the Gretzky of Czech boxla.  Janson has experience on the US Developmental squad (as a Captain in ’09) and up in Canada and tore it up in the one week of NYC ULax he participated in this year.  Andrew Wasik has played in the NLL and MLL and can still ball with the best of ’em.  I used to cover him when our teams scrimmaged in college.  He’s VERY good.  Rachman is a beast who I played with down in Miami.  He will seriously mess you up.  Tough guy!  James Synowiecz and Justin Otto were both on the box team last winter (pretty sure I outscored Otto!) and Chris Gill is an ABSOLUTE STEAL in the 16th round.  Gill could very easily turn out to be one of the top NALL players this year, depending on what kind of shape he’s in.  But the guy has NLL experience, is big and tough and can score some preposterous goals.  Watch out for Hershey!  A lot of box talent there!  Great selection and some guys who have played together already.  Hershey has a strong left side with Syno, Otto, and Wasik.  As long as their jerseys are brown and silver (like a Hershey’s) I’m in for the long haul here.

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Connor Wilson playing with Justin Otto last winter.

The Jacksonville Bullies went on a slightly different tack, but still managed to put together a pretty solid sounding team.

(1, 4) Ryan Licht – Farleigh Dickenson, (2, 10) Wade Bucktooth – Onondaga CC, (3, 11) Nick O’Hara – Duke, (4, 17) Scott Kahoe – Syracuse, (5, 23) Spencer Lyons – Onondaga CC, (6, 29) Matt Noble – Cortland State, (7, 35) Josh Coveleski – Duke, (8, 36) Ethan Vedder – Cornell,  (9, 42) Murray Stout – Onondaga Nation, (10, 48) Evan Kay – UMBC, (11, 54) Garvey Heiderman – Penn, (12, 60) Taylor Caparosa – Robert Morris,  (13, 61) Brian Cost – LeMoyne, (14, 67) Matt Carey – Misericordia, (15, 73) Nick Williams – Ohio State, (16, 79) Tyson Geick – Queens College

Licht was a really good start for Jacksonville.  And they followed that up with two players from Onondaga, O’Hara from Duke and Kahoe from Cuse.  O’Hara could be a punishing defender or transition player, both Bucktooth and Lyons have played a ton of tough reservation box lacrosse and Kahoe can play inside and finish.  Noble was a defender at Cortland with a good stick and a great set of wheels and Coveleski and Vedder can play at a high level.  Players like Kay, Carey, Williams and Stout also have box experience but I’m most interested to see how this team comes together.  Jacksonville is still a little bit of an enigma to me right now but they have talent and proven winners like Cost, Coveleski, Noble and O’Hara.  That’s a good start.

The Kentucky Stickhorses‘ draft class, like Jacksonville’s, has some proven commodities and some less known quantities.  But that is pretty standard for a brand new team in a relatively new lax area.

(1, 3) Patrick Crosby – Temple, (2, 9) Ricky Pages – Ohio State, (3, 15) Joel Zalesky – Seton Hill, (4, 16) Chris Ajemian – Fairfield, (5, 22) Emmitt Printup –  Onondaga CC, (6, 28) David Mitchell – Cornell, (7, 34) Dave McCarthy – Albany, (8, 40) Ed Prevost – UNC, (9, 41) Mike Unterstein – Hofstra, (10, 47) Ryan Maciacszic – Nazareth, (11, 53) Chase Williams – Bellarmine, (12, 59) Corey Malampy – Widener, (13, 65) Joel Derechinski – Gordon College, (14, 66) Julian Maliszewski – Cabrini, (15, 72) Peter Mezzanotte – Towson, (16, 78) Brandon Dube – Endicott

Kentucky’s class is hard to judge.  At least for me.  They went all over the place… from big-name D1 and MLL players to D3 guys I’ve never heard of.  Canadians, Americans, Native Americans… Kentucky has it all.  Their uniform should resemble a rainbow to signify all the diversity they have on the roster.  This team has talent, but the question will quickly become, “can they play together?”  In box you live and die as a unit and Kentucky has short time to make this a reality.  It seems like a good number of these guys are new to box, and that makes me a little nervous but they have Pat Crosby in goal, and that will definitely help.  But I was new to box too at one point, so I’ll give them time before finalizing my call.

Finally we have the Wilkes-Barre Shamrocks.  W-B picked up some box talent, and some athletes, and I like where they’re headed so far here.  They had the number one pick and took Steve Panarelli from Cuse.  SP has experience on the US U-19 team, played at Cuse and has played pro before.  Great leader, loves lax, good selection!

(1, 1) Steve Panarelli – Syracuse, (2, 7) Mike Lazore – Hobart, (3, 13) Tyler Hill – Hobart, (4, 19) Peter Jacobs – Mohawk Nation, (5, 25) Matt Messina – NY Tech, (6, 26) Dan Macisaac – American International College, (7, 32) Ron Cogan – Herkimer, (8, 38) Angus Laborgne – Irving, NY, (9, 44) Donald Moss – Adelphi, (10, 50) Brandon Spillet – Lemoyne, (11, 51) Matt Witko – Tufts, (12, 57) Andrew Spack – Loyola, (13, 63) Christian Daniello – Syracuse, (14, 69) Robert Starr – Kean, (15, 75) Andrew Lazore – Akwasane, NY, (16, 76) Greg Krstic – Windsor, Ontario

HOLY UPSTATE AND WESTERN NEW YORK, Batman!  Seriously.  The vast majority of these guys have ties to this area of NY State and I think this bodes well for W-B in the first year of the NALL.  Familiarity breeds awesomeness… that’s the expression, right?  Two Lazores, Hill, Jacobs, Cogan, Laborgne, Moss and Krstic?  Wooooo!  Add on guys like Messina and Witko and you’re going to have a pretty solid squad!

Overall, there were a LOT less Maryland, Duke, Cuse, Cornell, UVA, etc players drafted than I had originally thought.  The guys that were selected were, for the most part, box lacrosse players.  First round selections weren’t wasted on first time box players, and each team definitely had a vibe they were going for.  I don’t expect these to be final rosters by any means, and would guess that a number of these players will find different homes in the near future.

The NALL teams are looking up, and I’m excited for the season to kick off in under a month.  Now the question becomes, how much work can these teams put in before it all kicks off?  TIME TO GO TO WORK!


  1. Plunkett also has some NLL and Senior A/B experience. Additionally, he tore it up at this years WILC with the Czech team and was one of the big reasons they made it to the semifinals!
    Poupe (along with two other players from his home team) have been invited to attend the Stealth training camp next year, after CH saw them beat England at the WILC.