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LILJ Boys College Bound Experience Recap – The Coaches. The Drills. The Stand-outs.

Action Shots by Timothy Butler Photography

Walking into the Stony Brook Indoor Sports Complex, Long Island’s top middle school boys had a wide-eyed, excited look on their faces. Not much socializing between campers. Instead, a serious tone as the boys strapped up the helmets, laced the cleats, smoothed out the pockets, and pulled their brand new LILJ College Bound pennies over their should pads.

As the entire camp eagerly awaited to be addressed, the College Bound co-founder Justin Turri (Michigan) eventually stood in front of Long Island’s future stars in lacrosse to say a few words.

Coach Turri is a stoic, up-and-coming coach in the college ranks who wore each camper’s shoes not to long ago. Hailing from perennial lacrosse power West Islip on Long Island,  Coach Turri is no stranger to success on the lacrosse field. Turri won back-to-back State Championship at West Islip in 2006 & 2007, made it to 4 final fours at Duke (including a National Championship in 2010 & earning All-American two times), and played professionally for the MLL Boston Cannons until he was drafted by the PLL Chrome. Coach Turri has coached at Army, Harvard, and is now the offensive Coordinator at Michigan.

Coach Turri’s message emphasized what the LILJ College Bound Experience was all about: learning and growing. For Coach Turri, he wanted to ensure the campers knew this event was all about college’s best coaches w/ Long Island roots coming out to spread their knowledge through instruction based drills, and for campers to work hard so they could get a little better and prepare for their Spring season ahead.

Besides Coach Justin Turri (Michigan) working the camp, the LILJ College Bound Experience included a cluster of incredible college coaches with Long Island roots. This article takes you through the two-day camp, detailing what campers learned from each coach in attendance. As a parent, I know how there’s nothing better than watching your child play. While this camp had no spectators, the LILJ hopes this articles gives parents, fans, and players a sense of what went on at the College Bound Experience. Learn all about the coaches, the drills, the concepts, the skills, and the players who stood out by reading below.

Anthony Gilardi, Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Stony Brook University, Division I, America East Conference

Coach Gilardi welcomed the camp to his school with open arms, helping create the College Bound Experience by opening the doors to Stony’s magnificent indoor facility, helping staff this amazing event, and coaching-up the boys throughout the two-days. See what campers learned from Coach Gilardi over the two-days:

Position Coached: Attack

Island Moves – Coach Gilardi worked with campers on successfully scoring when getting to “The Island.” The island is the 5 yard by 5 yard area above goal-line extended on your offensive end. Coach Gilardi worked on the question mark move from that area of the field by breaking it down to its simplest form. Some important details he included when teaching the players this move included: getting into your defender before creating separation, punching the sideline to protect your stick, snapping your head around so you can see your target, rotating your leg around prior to releasing the ball, and following through on your shot. The boys repped this move dozens of times as they worked towards mastery.

Feeding from X – an underrated skill, Coach Gilardi taught the boys how to properly step off from their on-ball defender and feed when dodging from X. His teaching points included how to hold the stick with one hand and add the second hand prior to feeding, where to step off towards prior to feeding, and where the ball should go when releasing the pass.

Scoring Off a Pass from Wings – when your teammate dodging from X draws an adjacent slide, Coach Gilardi went into detail as to how player’s should position their bodies to receive a pass from their teammate at X, where they should be showing their target, how to catch the ball in a ready position, what their footwork should look like after the catch, and what the timing should look like when it comes to releasing the ball. He even challenged the players to be in a ready position after popping from the crease area first.

Two-Man Shooting Drills – Coach Gilardi evolved his station on Day 2 by including some two-man shooting drills. Coach Gilardi initiated the drill by positioning one attacker at the 5X5, on his go call, the attacker must successfully punch the sideline, carry a double team, & throw back thru X. The last phase of the drill includes a teammate sneaking above GLE on the strong side for a quick shot and goal. This drill evolved to have the player who was sneaking at X, now catching a pass from the roll off attacker, and immediately attacking the opposite side of the goal for a shot. Coach Gilardi made a great teaching about about how the roll off guy and the X player should work together as if they are on a string. This means if the player with the ball carries towards the sideline, that should pull the player at X closer to the sideline. This gives the two players working together a better opportunity to execute a pass without a defender knocking it down or it getting picked up. One of the best parts about Coach Gilardi’s two-man shooting drills, they were game like. The attackers repped a situation that is so common during game play over and over.

Justin Turri, Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Michigan University, Division I, Big Ten Conference

Coach Turri welcomed the camp with an important message about learning, developing, and representing Long Island. Growing up the island, Coach Turri always cherished the opportunities he got on the field playing for great coaches. That same message he conveyed to College Bound participants.

Position Coached: Attack/Midfield

Zig Zag Dodging/Stick Protection – Coach Turri opened-up camp by teaching a unique zig zag dodging drill that incorporated a variety of skills necessary to being a great attack men. Some of the skills emphasized by Coach Turri included dodging with your head up, stick protection, foot/leg placement when changing direction, changing speeds, and being explosive. Coach Turri taught the finer points of protecting your stick and carrying/dodging as an attack men in his zig zag dodging progression.

Dodge-Throwback – In the second positional segment of Day 1, Coach Turri took what he taught in the zig zag dodging progression and brought it to life in a drill that simulates a real game scenario. The scenario Coach Turri repped included a dodge from X, a drive to the island protecting your stick, properly rolling away from pressure, throwing back from X, and immediately attacking the opposite side of the cage. Some collegiate teaching points coach Turri included in this drill was using double moves to get a step on your defender, how/when to lower your should on contact, how to escape/drag a double team before throwing back, and how to manipulate your defender as the player at X receiving the throwback.

Cross-Crease Feeding – On Day 2, Coach Turri evolved his Dodge-Throwback drill to include a feed cross-crease for a shot on goal. As a feeder, coach Turri was teaching attack men how and when to throw the ball cross-crease on a feed. This is a skill that needs deception, timing, and precision. Coach Turri also emphasized the importance of stepping off to free your hands prior to feeding the ball. Coach Turri was also teaching players how/when to cut when they are the crease player during a dodge from behind the goal (X). Some of Coach Turri’s teaching points included, delaying your cut, cutting down the pipe, and crease awareness prior to finishing the rock.

John Crawley, Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Lehigh University, Division I, Patriot League

John Crawley is a Long Island Native, who won a County Championship at Port Washington and was a Team Captain for John’s Hopkins. Coach Turri has continued his playing career for the Atlas Lacrosse Club in the PLL. Working with Lehigh University currently as a college coach, John is looking to teach the future stars of lacrosse.

Position Coached: Attack

Punch the Pipe – Coach Crawley did an amazing job simplifying how and where to shoot when dodging from right behind the goal. First off, Coach Crawley taught the young attack men where the destination should before getting a shot off. Second, Coach Crawley taught the boys how/where they should shoot the rock. Calling it “Punching the Pipe”, Coach Crawley taught the boys to punch the bottom corner of the cage with their top hand when taking this shot. The precision, consistency, and effectiveness of these young attack men shooting this shot was incredible after Coach Crawley’s teaching points.

Dodge to Score – On Day 1, Coach Crawley focused on dodging to score in his second positional segment. As a result of dodging to score, Coach Crawley explained to the boys that they would have the ability to then dodge then find their open teammates. Coach Crawley went on to teach the boys how to dodge and throw forward, as well as, how to dodge and throw backwards. Coach Crawley then mixed in variations, which included dodging to a shot or dodging to a feed. This forced players to make decisions while dodging a full speed, something that happens all the time in game situations.

Getting Up the Hash – Coach Crawley did an amazing job breaking down how to score goals when dodging up the hash. Dodging up the hash is different than dodging around the crease because your angle is decreased, your body weight is going up field, and your power tends to be compromised. Coach Crawley broke down the technique for how to shoot up the hash by saying, “Start with 1 hand on your stick, after two steps add your 2nd hand, keep your cradles quiet, be sure to chase your stick-head (upfield), snap your top hand to the far pipe, and get your shoulder to the goal.” As players walked thru the drill first, they eventually were able to jog, then sprint through the drill with the consistency Coach Crawley was looking for. Coach Crawley even evolved the drill to include a bounce, which is separation from your defender, prior to attacking up the hash for a shot. These are all collegiate level skills that the best attack men possess!

John Odierna, Associate Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Manhattan College, Division I, MAAC Conference

John Odierna is a Long Island native, winning a State Championship at Cold Spring Harbor and making it to a National Championship as a player at Gettysburg, where he started and was team captain. Coach Odierna has coached at Colby College, Stevens Tech, and Manhattan College, where he has lead teams to having Nationally ranked defenses. Over the last two seasons, Coach Odierna has secured the Number 1 spot for his Man-Down defense in Division 1 College Lacrosse. Outstanding achievement for a college coach.

Position Coached: Defense

Ride the Bull – Coach Odierna kicked off camp by teaching players how to defend their opponent from behind the goal. Coach Odierna emphasized a few key points to really make it difficult on your attacker, including: keeping your stick on your opponents hands when drop stepping, getting your hands on your attacker when they cross goal line, closing the gate at GLE which means getting your hips to the enplane in order to turn back your opponent, and driving your man away from the crease when crossing above goal line.

Slide Positioning – An underrated skill as a defenseman is your off-ball posture. This is how you should stand off ball, and where you should be located in reference to the ball so you are in a good position to stop the dodger if his man gets beat. Coach Odierna emphasized a few keys in his slide positioning drills such as, always front your man so he doesn’t seal you when trying to slide, get close to the dodge, be in a position to see ball and man, be really loud as the hot guy, and hedge on first dodge to see what the opponent does first. Hedging is a great concept that is kind of like a fake slide, teaching young defenseman they don’t always have to slide in order to play effective team defense.

Checking Gallery – On Day 2, Coach Odierna did a great job working on the fundamental checks young defensemen can throw in his next drill. The first variation players made M’s with their sticks, this works on being a pain defensively by always staying on opponents hands. The second variation included W’s which worked on tight checks and emphasized the fact that defenseman can’t disrupt opponents with their stick up high far away from their opponents body/hands.

Escape GB’s – The last drill Coach Odierna did with his defenseman was escape GB’s. This taught the underrated skill of picking up a ground ball in traffic while keeping your stick low to the turf. Most young laxers are taught to bring that stick to your face, but Coach JO mentioned that keeping your stick low is a great way to escape pressure so you can free your hands for a pass.

Kevin Unterstein, Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach, University of North Carolina, Division I, ACC Conference

Kevin Unterstein, a Shoreham native, won a State Championship in High School before going off to becoming an All-American at Hofstra. After graduation, Coach Unterstein had coaching stops at Princeton, Denver, and spent 8 years at Hofstra leading the defense. In August of 2018, Coach Unterstein was named defensive coordinator at UNC. KU also played professionally for the NY Lizards, won a gold medal with Team USA, and currently plays professionally for the Atlas Lacrosse Club in the PLL.

Position Coached: Defense

Drop Steps – Once of the hardest movements to execute at a high level, is running backwards. For defensemen, they have to do this frequently. Coach Unterstein did a great job teaching the young poles at College Bound how to drop step, where their stick should be positioned, and how to move the body after drop stepping. Coach Unterstein even showed the poles a very common place they would need to successfully execute drop steps in order to prevent their opponent from scoring easy goals. Coach Unterstein worked on this by including a great drop step drill at X.

Getting Thru Picks – A super underrated skill for defensemen, how to get through a pick properly. Coach Unterstein created an awesome drill using a football blocking dummy, who represented the picker, in order to have his poles work on getting through picks in two different regions. The first spot was directly at X and the second spot was at GLE. At X, Coach Unterstein taught the poles how to successfully trail through X, get their stick over the picker, and get back into good position to defender their man. At GLE, Coach Unterstein taught his poles the same concepts, however, emphasized the importance of beating your man to a spot when getting through picks at X.

Ride the Bull – Coach Unterstein ran a similar drill to Coach Odierna, which worked on defending players at X. He emphasized the importance of drop steps, getting stick on hands when defending at X, and chopping feet when closing the gate at GLE. His drill did a great job getting these young poles to work on defending opponent through X on both sides of the cage. This gave Coach Unterstein an opportunity to teach poles how to drive/turn, as well as V-hold/turn at GLE depending on what hand the pole is and what side of the cage the opponent is driving towards.

GB Continuous – Coach Unterstein ran a really cool 3-man ground ball drill. This drill worked on a variety of skills that applies to being a successful pole, and gave players dozens of reps in a short segment. Some skills include ground balls in traffic, ground balls away, throwing shovel passes, pull passes, and rolling away from pressure. The drill also worked both hands which is always more difficult for poles.

Kyle Turri, Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Hobart & Williams Smith College, Division 1, NCAC Conference

Born and raised in West Islip, Kyle Turri is from a lacrosse family. Dad was coach at WI and brother Justin one of the best to come off Long Island, Kyle saw his own success as a player. Kyle won a gold medal for USA at the 2012 FIL World Championships. In college, Kyle Turri won a pair of national championships and an ACC Championship as a goalie at Duke. After coaching at Ohio State and Binghamton, Turri came to Hobart in 2017. Last season, Turri led Hobart’s defense to being ranked 8th in the nation man-down, and had the highest clearing % in the conference.

Position Coached: Goalies

Un-athletic to Athletic – Coach Turri taught a very interesting concepts to the Goalies early on in camp. He started the goalies in cage in a very un-athletic position. For example, up tall, feet close together, etc. Once the coach, who had the ball in his stick in front of the goal, put his stick in a shooting position, the goalies had to quickly adjust into an athletic position in preparation for making a save. This taught goalies how to rep that transformation from un-athletic to athletic, and taught goalies how to read shooters in preparation for what’s ahead.

Pipe to Pipe – Coach Turri taught the concept of going from pipe to pipe in a really cool drill. Starting square to a shooter on the right side of the field (right pipe), goalies had to use efficient footwork to cover the opposite pipe (left pipe) on the flight of a pass. So, the pass went from right side to left side of the field. Finally, goalies had to get square to a shooter in the front of the goal (between the pipes) before a shot came towards them. This triangular motion taught goalies how to go pipe to pipe, and square up to shooters along the way. The other goalies not in the drill served as the “shooters.”

Coach Turri did an amazing job putting all the tips he coached to his goalies together on Day 2 of camp. He did this by building in drills that included a wide range of skills: communicating, tracking the ball, changing pipes, starting square, hand-positioning, recognizing feeders vs. shooters, and more.

JP Brazel, Assistant Men’s Lacrosse Coach, Stony Brook University, Division 1, America East

J.P. Brazel joined Stony Brook men’s lacrosse as associate head coach and defensive coordinator in July 2019. He brings well nearly two decades of coaching experience to the Seawolves. Brazel spent the previous eight seasons as an assistant coach at Hofstra. He previously helped guide Delaware to the NCAA Tournament during the 2011 season. A three-year stint as an assistant coach at Sacred Heart preceded his time with the Blue Hens.Brazel also spent time on the sidelines at Manhattan College. He got his coaching career with Nassau Community College in 2003. Brazel, a Hofstra graduate, was the Pride’s goalie during the 2001 and 2002 campaigns and helped lead the program to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances

Position Coached: Goalies

Coach Brazel is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to training goalies. While coach Brazel put the goalies at College Bound through a slew of drills that made players better, it’s best to learn some of the teaching points he emphasized to his players during drills, including:

  • Having your hands up and being 2/3 off your body
  • Popping your hands like a cobra on the save
  • Catching the rock out in front of you on a shot
  • The importance of making eye contact when the ball is in play
  • Make sure you can see your hands, don’t have them in your chest when your getting in a ready posture off-ball
  • Meeting the ball at it’s highest point, not waiting for a shot to come to you
  • Punching the shot with your top hand
  • Your foot-placement as a goalie when the ball is at X
  • Pivot turns when the ball cycles around the cage in your defensive end
  • Making sure your hands are in a ready position at ALL times!
  • Above your hips especially, make sure you are in a ready position when the ball goes from pipe to pipe
  • If you’re gonna guess on a shot, guess high

Connor Farrell, PLL Chrome, LIU Post, Division 1, NEC

One of the breakout stars during the league’s 2019 PLL season, Farrell finished with the second-highest face-off percentage and fourth-highest ground balls (84). He was also awarded the league’s Dave Huntley Sportsmanship Award and was a finalist for the PLL MVP award. Farrell is a Holtsville, New York native where he attended Sachem East High School. While playing at Long Island University, Farrell was named a 2x All-ECC First Team. Farrell won the Dave Huntley Sportsmanship Award and was nominated for the Rookie of Year Award last season. He was selected 22nd overall by Chrome LC in the 2019 PLL College Draft.

Position Coached: Midfielders

GBs Between the Shoulders – One of the unique aspects for having Connor Farrell at College Bound, is his emphasis to all the young players at camp about ground ball play. While note every midfielder will face-off, every midfielder will need to separate themselves at winning the ground ball battle. Coach Farrell kicked off camp with an awesome between the shoulders GB drill. He put players in two lines, with 10 ball in front of each line. Coach Farrell then asked two players at a time to bend over each ground ball, pick it up keeping the head of their stick between the shoulders, and only put the ball down after taking 3-steps. I really noticed the midfielders putting a stricter emphasis on getting low on GBs and on protecting their stick after picking up the GB.

Swipes – With the face-off rules evolving to force less specialization and more athletes taking the face-off, Coach Farrell gave a short clinic on swiping the ball to space at the face-off X. Some important teaching points he gave the middies when setting up properly for a swipe is having right elbow inside their knee, having your shaft on the callus of your palms, and making sure your bottom hand is in bicycle grab 1/3 way down your stick. This gave each middies the basic techniques necessary to rep some swipes and win some draws.

Mike Chanenchuk, PLL Whipsnakes Player, Assistant Lacrosse Coach, Stony Brook University, Division 1, America East

A player who cemented his status as one of the game’s best two-way players in 2019, Chanenchuk contributions were integral to Whipsnakes LC’s championship run. Finishing the season with an impressive 34 points and 19 goals, Chanenchuk was a constant threat from deep. Chanenchuk had a notable three-goal performance in a playoff victory in Columbus. Chanenchuk is an East Setauket, New York native where he attended St. Anthony’s High School. While playing at the University of Maryland, Chanenchuk was a 2014 First Team All-America selection, a 2014 All ACC and a 2013 Second Team All-America selection. While at Princeton, Chanenchuk was a 2010 Second Team All-American, a 2010 First Team All Ivy selection and the 2010 Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Chanenchuk was additionally selected to the 2019 PLL All-Star Game. When he isn’t playing lacrosse, Chanenchuk is either watching his favorite movie, The Replacements, or listening to Tom Petty.

Position Coached: Midfielders

Step-Downs – One of the best people to teach the step-down is Coach Channy. Coach Channy’s success on the lacrosse field translates to how he teaches others to shoot the rock. Middle Schoolers at the LILJ College Bound got a chance to learn from Coach Channy how to establish power, accuracy, and consistency on your step-down shots. He taught this by critiquing players posture, hand/arm placement, torque, footwork, and follow through. Coach Channy also had some great drills that dove into teaching step down shooting.

Short Dodges – Coach Channy did a great job teaching midfielders at College Bound how to attack off a pass from up-top. An underrated skill that he mentioned is one of the most effective ways to get your hands free on a dodge/shot. Coach Channy went on to teach a few effective moves from this situation, including split/rolls. After teaching the dodge, Coach Channy broke down how to effectively get off your shot. The two shot types he focuses on were shooting on the run and jump shots.

Freezing the Slide – A unique concept taught by Coach Channy included freezing the slide. He elaborated by saying on the best ways you can do this is by bouncing on  your initial dodge, see the slide guy through your man, and re-dodging after the slide guys hesitates or freezes. I loved this concept because Coach Channy explained that successfully freezing a slide could really open up a midfielder to free his hands in dangerous spots of the field. Some other important keys Coach Channy mentioned when re-dodging included: attacking the goal not the end-line & painting the pipe with your stick to increase angle/accuracy on  your shot.

The teaching points from each coach mentioned above does not do justice for what else they taught each player at the college bound event. With three hours per day, over the course of two days, Long Island’s top middle schoolers got a chance to undergo collegiate level training, by performing collegiate drills, run by collegiate players and coaches. This unique experience gave these young players a taste of what the college game is all about, and motivated them to become stars of their community so they could one day get recruited to play college lacrosse.

While every player at the camp left it all on the field, it’s important to recognize some players who stood out.

LILJ Boys College Bound Stand-outs

Attack

John Balsamo, Manhasset

Teddy Baratta, St. James

Josh Berger,  Roslyn

James Bruno, Dix Hills

Derek Busking, Bay Shore

Michael Caccamo, Harborfields

Charles Cacciabaudo, Garden City

Zachary Fishman, Commack

Christoper Hill Jr., Farmingdale

Luca Iacobellis, Rockville Center

Cameron James, St. James

AJ Jeffares, Sayville

Mason LaRocco, Harborfields

Collin Mark, Setauket

Finn Pizzo, East Hampton

Brian Reilly, Manhasset

Andrew Reinhardt, Plainview

Greg Wyckoff, Levittown

Gavin Lynch, Rockville Centre

Midfielders

Billy Atkinson, Northport

Chase Busking, Bay Shore

Ryan Chung, Dix Hills

James Dee, Holbrook

Jack Harvell, West Islip

Daniel Kolin, Manhasset

Luca Korte, Sea Cliff

Anthony Mancaruso, Holbrook

Zachary Marco, Hills

Michael Mayerhofer, Rockville Centre

Thomas McCann, Sayville

Daniel Medjid, Garden City

Brandon Perticone, Bohemia

Brody Richert, Matticuk

Joseph Schwartz, Mt. Sinai

Shawn Tuccillo, Port Jefferson

James Gillis, Lynbrook

Goalies

Dominic Passannante

Nick Zenk, Riverhead

Kyle Wieland, Babylon

Kieran Walsh, Garden City

Henry Griffith, Manhasset

Devin Dubendorf, Bay Shore

Dennis Brady, N. Massapequa

Defense

Gavin Duran, Sands Point

Justus Durham, Farmingville

Benjamin Ehlers, East Setauket

Frank Filberto, Mt. Sinai

Michael Forrest, East Northport

Harrison Heckman, Massapequa

Michael Kelton, Holtsville

Joe Mainente, Levittown

Will Mattice, Garden City

Parker McDonald, Seaford

Ryan McGay, Harborfields

Brady Meyer, Cold Spring Harbor

Michael Nicki, Bethpage

Matt Pearl, Harborfields

Ajay Sullivan, Selden

Anthony Terrone, Westbury

Ryan Tesler, Bethpage

Grant Weiss, East Islip

 

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