By John Bodnar
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 3/21/17
What a time to be alive if you’re a face-off fan in the Philly area.
With over 25 seniors from this area alone going on to play Division 1 or Division III next year, the field has never been more competitive. Here is a look at the top face-off specialist in the Philly region.
Malvern Prep continues the Division 1 faceoff pipeline with senior Sean Christman (Boston University). Penn Charter welcomes back sophomore Gavin Tygh (Virginia), the varsity starter for PC since 8th grade. He was honorable mention All IAC last year behind Christian Feliziani and in most expert rankings he’s one of the top faceoff men in the entire 2019 class. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy will feature a two-headed duo with seniors Ryan Murray (Richmond) and Gabe Smithline (Lafayette). The Haverford School welcomes back senior Joel Trucksess (Lehigh). Episcopal Academy has to replace All State, All American and U-19 Feliziani (Ohio State) and will feature senior Griffin Ernst (Lafayette) and sophomore Jack Henderson (Penn State). Germantown Academy will be relying heavily on senior Tony Rosato (Stevenson).
There are some standout seniors as well in this conference. Seniors Anthony Giuliani (La Salle, Penn) and Dan Fisher (St. Joe’s Prep, Villanova) are the returning 1st team all Catholic faceoff guys. Also, there are seniors Nick Heiler (Lansdale Catholic, Gwynedd-Mercy) and Matt Kirby (Cardinal O’Hara), both 2nd team all Catholic picks last year.
The Central League is another conference loaded with face-off talent. The league boasts seniors Hunter Mazur (Strath Haven, Army), Cade Heverly (Ridley, Georgetown), Luke McCallion (Haverford High, Vermont), Andrew Pickett (Springfield-Delco, DeSales) and Rei Lopez (Garnet Valley, Ursinus). Conestoga features junior James Reilly (Georgetown) who was 1st team All Central League last year. Radnor will feature a junior/senior combination of Mike Mcshea and Chris Austen.
The Ches-Mont League’s big name is Avon Grove junior Nate Hammond (Navy), a returning 1st team pick. Forest Rosser (Bayard Rustin) is also a returning 1st team selection and seniors Joey Sivo (West Chester East, Washington College) and Nick Sicilia (Downingtown West) are seasoned veterans. The Ches-Mont also has some top sophomores, including Henderson’s Luke Wierman (Fairfield). Also to watch is Tyler Kingsbury (Bishop Shanahan)
The Suburban One Conference features junior Michael Ott (CB East, Monmouth), the returning Conference Player of the Year. Seniors Jake Phaup (Souderton, Syracuse) and Brian Hood (Hatboro Horsham, Cabrini) are two other key returnees.
Pioneer Athletic Conference – Senior Nick Freda (Upper Merion, Gwynedd-Mercy) is a 3-year starter. Bicentennial League – Junior Matt Rueter of Holy Ghost Prep has a head coach, Ryan Tessler, who was a former faceoff star at St. Joe’s.
Junior Michael Sisselberger (Southern Lehigh, Lehigh), who starred on Team Philly this summer at the Under Armour games, is arguably one of the best juniors in the country. Some other players to watch in District 11 and District 3 are junior Andrew Albertson (Parkland), junior Leshawn Williams (Easton), sophomore Nick Gutierrez (Manheim Twp), sophomore Cole Fuller (Hempfield), and the senior/sophomore duo of Paul Intini (Del-Val University) and Luke Talago (Syracuse) at Allentown Catholic.
Lenape junior Zach Cole (St. Joseph’s) is ready to replace Conor Gaffney, already a standout at Lehigh as a freshman. Further south, St. Augustine Prep will rely on senior Aiden Baltz (Ursinus) and junior Vito Barbera (Cabrini). Kyle Prouty (New Egypt, Johns Hopkins) is a big name. Some other faceoff guys to keep your eyes on include senior Liam Fitzgerald (Hun School, Trinity), senior Kyle Matthews (Northern Burlington, Montclair State), sophomore Zach Raudenbush (Gloucester Catholic, High Point), junior Mitchell Rothstein (Haddonfield HS), and senior Nick Moffa (Cherokee).
John Bodnar is the co-founder of Philly Face-Off League