Back in early July on the 7th and 8th the National Lacrosse Invitational was once again hosted at Ward Melville High School. A number of high school teams mainly from Long Island as well as a few out of state teams competed in the two day tournament to take home the NLI trophy. This year it was the Flyers from Chaminade that took home the trophy, but they along with plenty of other teams had some standout players that either produced like they are accustomed to or took their game to another level. Here were LILJ’s standout performers from this summer’s NLI!
JJ Aiello (Midfield, Bayport): Aiello was a dominant force for Bayport, stinging corners and scoring in bunches. He had a stretch in which he scored three goals in three minutes against West Babylon. Aiello was able to score with authority, often times making it look easy.
Quinn Ball (FOGO, Chaminade): The Flyers were a dominant team throughout the NLI and a huge part of that started at the X with Quinn Ball. Ball won a number of clean face-offs right to himself which gave Chaminade the opportunity to control the time of possession in almost all of their games.
Nick Bruckner (Attack, Ward Melville): Bruckner displayed an extremely powerful shot, ripping it from deep. His long range made Ward Melville a dangerous team early on in the tournament.
Jimmy Caputo (Goalie, Farmingdale): Caputo split the goalie responsibilities with Ippoliti. The Dalers played a number of close games and Caputo stepped up in a big way, making clutch saves as Farmingdale went 5-1 overall, holding teams to single digit goals in all six games.
Stevie Finnell (Midfield, Garden City): Finnell is a two-way player that brought it on both ends if the field. He was sniping shots through the back of the net and coming up with ground balls that either forced turnovers or kept possession alive for GC.
Eric Grahn (Goalie, Bayport): Grahn was one half of Bayport’s goalie duo and was a brick wall when he was in the net, saving both the low shots and the high shots. Outside of the championship game Grahn along with Brady Smith held teams to seven goals or fewer.
Mike Ippoliti (Goalie, Farmingdale): The other half of Farmingdale’s goalie du0 was Mike Ippoliti who like Caputo came up with crucial saves on some high percentage shots during Farmingdale’s path to the semifinals.
Mikey Luce (Defense, Bayport): Anchoring the Phantoms defense that made it all the way to the championship game was Mikey Luce. His sliding ability and his physicality as an on-ball defender made life difficult for his offensive counterpart. Luce also provided a pole goal in the championship game against Chaminade, showing that he’s not just a one-way player.
Matthew McIntee (Midfield, East Islip): McIntee was the engineer of the Redmen offense, proving to be both a scoring threat as well as a distributor. The balancing act between finding his teammates and knowing when to score proved to be successful for East Islip as they went 4-2 over the two days.
Drew Miller (LSM, Northport): Miller was a player that absolutely did it all for Northport. He controlled the game wherever he was on the field, taking the ball away on defense and slicing through the opposing defense to get to the cage like a true attackman.
Ben Morris (Attack, Bayport): The Phantoms offense was clicking throughout the tournament, with Ben Morris playing a big role in their success. Morris had strong dodges and also moved without the ball, scoring goals that came off of assists.
Brendan O’Keef (Midfield, Farmingdale): Farmingdale’s Brendan O’Keef caught fire quite a few times throughout the tournament thanks in large part to his ability to finish around the cage by shooting it low and painting corners. His finishing ability helped net him a five goal game against Shoreham.
Brendan Reilly (Attack, Chaminade): The Flyers lefty attackman was a pure scorer in the NLI. Playing for what proved to be the best offense in the tournament, Reilly had the ability to heat up quickly and score in bunches, feeding off his teammates for assisted goals.
Quinn Reynolds (SSDM, Northport): As a short-stick defensive middie Reynolds was all over the field doing a lot of the dirty work. Reynolds was causing turnovers and racking up ground balls which helped Northport get some transition opportunities offensively.
Brady Smith (Goalie, Bayport): Smith was the other part of Bayport’s elite goaltending throughout the NLI. Splitting the time with Grahn, Smith was able to match sticks, stopping a lot of shots around the cage that helped Bayport make such a deep run.
Drew Walendowski (Goalie, East Islip): The Redmen got tremendous goalie play from Walendowski who is only a 2025. He made some incredibly athletic saves and stood tall against some extremely talented shooters. Walendowski was the only goalie for East Islip so he played every minute of all six games.