IL released its Top 50 players of 2024. These lists are click bait, well intended to tease and preview the upcoming season. Like preseason All-Americans, the designation is hollow.
Here are impact players I think were overlooked and forgotten. They are the best players nobody is talking about.
Braden Erksa – Maryland attack – Terp corporate dividends have dipped since 2022. Erksa is a catalyst for revival. The B10 freshman of the year is charismatic with the crosse, fast with a variety of moves at X. His absence from the IL list is mind boggling. The sophomore from Marietta GA put up 48 points to lead the Terps in that category. Since 1973, when freshmen became eligible to participate, only Joe Walters (2003) and Grant Catalino (2008) led the Terrapins in scoring as true freshmen.
Mike Robinson – Delaware attack – How much production are you willing to ignore? 53 goals in 2022, 48 points in 2023, 51 points in 2021…how many players can claim that?
AJ Pilate – Army defense – Army played in the NCAA quarterfinals and Pilate was their #1 cover man. The defense in West Point was top ten in efficiency. I’m bullish on Army defense in 2024 and offering positive earnings guidance on Pilate and the unit.
Will Mark – Syracuse goalie – This one baffles my mind. You could argue that he’s the best goalie in the country. Playing behind a porous defense in 2023, the 6-4 inch flopper logged 868 minutes in goal, making 207 saves, averaging 13.8 per game. Mark stopped double-digit shots in 13 games, including a season-best 22 against Duke (March 5) and finished the season with a 54.2 save percentage. A Better supporting cast will have his trajectory pointing towards high All-American honors.
Owen Hiltz – SU attack – The lefty from north of the border scored 48 points as a freshman. He missed the 2022 season due to injury. In 2023 he had 53 points including 17 on the extra man where his passing is most potent. He’s got next level eyes and hands. I could also make a case for Orangeman Finn Thompson, a sophomore with enormous upside, who I expect to eclipse 50 points.
Jacob Angelus – Johns Hopkins attack – 44 assists and 61 points for an NCAA quarterfinalist. How’d he fall through the cracks? He was the most important piece of the JHU offense in 2023.
JJ Sillstrop – Denver attack – A winter injury impacted his 2023 season, he persevered through it, although the 41 points was shy of his 48 points in 2022. Feels like the senior from California is out of mind for media members. Matt Brown is now the head coach in Denver. I can envision Sillstrop hitting the 50 point threshold.
Emmett Paradine – Dartmouth midfield – Big Green had its strongest season in ages. Paradine had 27 points off 18 goals and nine assists. The Ivy League Rookie of The Year should continue to grow offensively, perhaps reaching 35 points for new head coach Sean Kirwan.
Bobby Van Buren – Ohio State defense – Buckeyes number one cover man draws the best assignment in a conference that features ball handlers like Mikey Boehm, Jacob Angelus, Braden Erksa and TJ Malone. When the dust settles he could be in the mix nationally as an all-american.
Hugh Kelleher – Cornell midfield – Big Hugh is a big key for the Big Red. Likely to draw the pole in 2024, let’s see if Kelleher can get his downhill dodging going and if he’s a reliable step down shooter who will be afforded looks as opponents send doubles to CJ Kirst.
Noah Armitage – Stony Brook midfield – 6 foot 4 inch and 210 pound two handed cradler from British Columbia finished 2023 with 45 points. NLL round two draft pick of the San Diego Seals has been a Salmonbelly for life. He uses his size to create space or to finish in tight. Noah had solid numbers in his rookie year of Sr A this summer which opened eyes. He’s suited for two-man games or sweeping across the top.
Will Consoli – Fairfield midfield – CAA Rookie of the Year from Glen Rock, NJ put up 24 goals and 7 assists as a freshman. First year midfielders rarely score 20 goals.
Levi Anderson – St Joes attack – His stock has dipped, so it’s a great time to buy.
Aidan O’Neil – Richmond attack – 200 pound sophomore from Tabor Academy was the A10 Rookie of the Year scoring 37 points via 25 goals and 12 assists. Look for incremental gains in 2024.
Will Donovan – Notre Dame LSM – Snaky pole played in all 16 games at the LSM position during his rookie season with the Irish, finishing the season with 27 ground balls, 11 caused turnovers and two assists. He was an All-ACC Team Selection (the only LSM and only freshman) and has skilled hands and exceptional instincts in ground ball pileups.
Christian Mazur – Army SSDM – He will be the best shorty in the Patriot League by a wide margin. His stock rose aggressively in May during the NCAA road win over Maryland and in a one-goal quarter final defeat to Penn State.
Here are more players who you can invest in right now having been snubbed by the IL pollsters.
Chris Lyons – Yale – attack
Dalton Young – Richmond attack
Griffin Schutz – Virginia – midfield
Leo Johnson – Yale – attack
Brendan Lavelle – Penn defense
Owen Gaffney – Harvard midfield
Carter Page – St Joes attack
Jordan Hyde – Utah attack
JP Ward – Delaware attack
Matt Traynor – Penn State
I prefer production over pedigree. Trying to gauge potential with prior results, both combined to trump media hype. Putting more value in watching film and less in reading box scores. Great players, who suit up for mediocre or struggling teams are too often and easily discarded. They don’t fly under the radar here.