NLF Class of 2020 Top 50 Rankings

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The hype started building up through Brennan O’Neill‘s youth lacrosse career with Team 91 Crush, a team that routinely played up against 2019 teams and still came away with win after win.

It continued when he became the youngest Division I commit in history as an eighth grader, added to it when he piled up a staggering 99 points on varsity as an eighth grader, and hasn’t stopped since, what with the constant social media reminders, jaw-dropping plays and monumental big-game performances. The most recent, a seven-goal, one-assist outburst vs. national power and rival Chaminade after tallying the same stat line in the 2018 NLF National Championship game, including the game-winning goal as time expired.

The most incredible part about all of the hype surrounding the St. Anthony’s senior isn’t that it often reached seemingly-absurd proportions. Rather, it’s the fact that he’s lived up to every bit of it. A 6-2, 225-pounder with elite stick skills, body control, lacrosse IQ, vision, the ability to try any shot and find teammates all over the field, O’Neill is a one-in-a-lifetime recruit, but this summer at the National Championships at UMass, the Duke commit only had one goal: win another national title.

“It was great to finish the way we started,” O’Neill said. “We knew that it wouldn’t be the same if we lost in our last time together, and we knew that it was our last chance to show what Crush is about and to seal the deal on us being one of the best club teams ever. Crush really helped me become the player that I am today, particularly getting coached like that, and I couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”

The decision to make O’Neill the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2020 in the inaugural National Lacrosse Federation rankings was as easy as it gets. While there are plenty of other incredibly-skilled players in the class, O’Neill is the total package, and he’s a sure bet to make a massive impact as a Blue Devil. He put forth a whopping 56-goal, 16-assist campaign as a junior for the 15-1 Friars, who arguably played the toughest schedule in the country. It’ll be hard to top that for an encore, but it won’t be for lack of trying from O’Neill and his teammates, which include Andrew McAdorey, the NLF No. 1 class of 2021 prospect, and Aidan Danenza, our No. 16 class of 2020 prospect.

“I want us to win every game and I don’t think we should lose,” O’Neill said. “Our goal is to come out the way we did last year. We want to beat Chaminade, of course, and we knew we should have in the first game. I think that loss really helped us along the way and helped us realize that we’re not unbeatable. Seeing that loss on our record was disappointing, but we knew we had another shot at revenge.”

Unfortunately for everybody else, O’Neill still feels like he can get a lot better, which is both terrifying and feasible.

“I want to improve my speed more,” O’Neill said. “My stick skills will get better along the way, but I want to focus on improving my speed for the next level. I have a lot of tools, but I want to improve my athletic ability.”

Improbably enough, O’Neill has lived up to the enormous hype around him, and he’s just getting started.

“Brennan is a special talent that walks the walk every time he touches the field,” Crush coach Joe Spallina said. “There’s immense pressure on him and he handles it so well, and he’s simply a dominant player. Duke is getting an incredible player and person, and he’s as advertised.”


Welcome to the first National Lacrosse Federation player rankings. We recently unveiled the class of 2021 top 50, as well as an honorable mention list, and we’re continuing by unveiling our top 50 seniors in the class of 2020. The top 2022s list will follow to close out our inaugural rankings.

Players must play for an NLF club or have played at the NLF Opening Weekend or NLF National Championships to be considered for the rankings, which was chosen in consultation with club coaches and college coaches, as well as in-person evaluations. The class has a ton of offensive gamebreakers, particularly at the top, with six big-time scoring threats in the top 10 and 15 attackmen or midfielders in the top 25.

More than 100 players were considered for the top 50, and a list of some of the honorable mention names will be published soon. The NLF draws the best players and teams in the country to its events, and many of the players on the rankings will be college lacrosse’s stars of tomorrow.

The NLF hosts a pair of events during the November recruiting period. Click here to apply for this fall’s NLF 2021 Uncommitted Showcase on Saturday, Nov. 16 and click here to apply for the team Fall Invitational on Sunday, Nov. 17, both at Farmingdale State College.

  1. Brennan O’Neill, attack, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Duke

    Do NOT venture out to cover Xavier Arline behind the cage. The North Carolina commit will break your ankles, dunk on your goalie and tell you all about it afterward. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  2. Xavier Arline, attack, Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / North Carolina

    Maryland commit Eric Malever is a smooth lefty who piles up points by the bushel. The future Terp can beat you in a bunch of ways. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  3. Eric Malever, attack, Woodward (Ga.) / Thunder LB3 / Maryland

    Sean Cameron plays in fast forward… and then some. The Princeton commit has a gear that nobody else has, and good luck to you if you’re trying to slow him down on the clear. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  4. Sean Cameron, midfield, Bishop Guertin (N.H.) / New Hampshire Tomahawks / Princeton

    Jackson Bonitz is everything that you want in a No. 1 defenseman. Mobile, agile, hostile, the Navy commit is the No. 1 defenseman in the rankings. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  5. Jackson Bonitz, defense, McDonogh (Md.) / Crabs / Navy
  6. James Ball, faceoff midfield, Chaminade (N.Y.) / Long Island Express / Yale
  7. Cole Krauss, defense/LSM, Delbarton (N.J.) / Leading Edge / Duke
  8. Russ Maher, attack, Mount Sinai (N.Y.) / Long Island Express / Virginia
  9. Casey McDermott, attack, Brighton (N.Y.) / SweetLax Upstate / Johns Hopkins
  10. Nathan LaLiberte, faceoff midfield, Pinkerton (N.H.) / New Hampshire Tomahawks / Bryant

    A true do-it-all midfielder, SweetLax Florida’s Carter Parlette affects the game in so many ways and has a great chance of doing special things at Notre Dame. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  11. Carter Parlette, midfield, Ponte Vedra (Fla.) / SweetLax Florida / Notre Dame
  12. Nick LiCalzi, defense/LSM, South Side (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Navy
  13. Eric Dobson, midfield, Fleming Island (Fla.) / SweetLax Florida / Notre Dame
  14. CJ Kirst, attack, Delbarton (N.J.) / Leading Edge / Cornell
  15. Dylan Hess, midfield, Ponte Vedra (Fla.) / SweetLax Florida / Georgetown
  16. Aidan Danenza, midfield, St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Duke
  17. Jack Schirtzer, defense, Mount Sinai (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Maryland
  18. Dane Swanson, midfield, McDonogh (Md.) / Crabs/ Navy
  19. Connell Kumar, midfield, Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) / Leading Edge / Virginia
  20. Mikey Boehm, attack, St. Ignatius (Ohio) / West Coast Starz / Michigan

    Laxachusetts lefty attackman Cam Rubin is a cerebral scorer who can snipe as a dodger or on a stepdown. He’s got the potential to quarterback Penn’s offense. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  21. Cam Rubin, attack, Belmont Hill (Mass.) / Laxachusetts / Penn
  22. Nick Caccamo, defense, Harborfields (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Yale
  23. Evan Barr, goalie, Somerville (N.J.) / Leading Edge / Duke
  24. Collin Bergstrom, defense, Roxbury Latin (Mass.) / Laxachusetts / Harvard
  25. Max Cooney, defense, Georgetown Prep (Md.) / Crabs / North Carolina
  26. Ross Burgmaster, defense, Auburn (N.Y.) / SweetLax Upstate / Notre Dame

    Michigan-bound Kyle Stephenson is a smooth dodger with the ability to score or set teammates up. The Leading Edge product will lead a loaded Seton Hall Prep team next spring. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  27. Kyle Stephenson, midfield, Seton Hall Prep (N.J.) / Leading Edge / Michigan
  28. Michael Chabra, midfield, Austin Prep (Mass.) / Laxachusetts / Providence
  29. Miles Botkiss, midfield, Torrey Pines (Calif.) / West Coast Starz / Harvard
  30. Patrick McIntosh, attack, Salisbury (Conn.) /SweetLax Upstate / Virginia
  31. Justin Wietfeldt, faceoff midfield, New Canaan (Conn.) / Eclipse / Michigan
  32. Ryan McKenzie, midfield, Christian Brothers Academy (N.Y.) / SweetLax Upstate / Duke
  33. George Alvarez, goalie, St. John’s (D.C.) / Crabs / Uncommitted

    Porter Hollen does it all for the West Coast Starz, and he excels at setting teammates up and guiding the offense. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  34. Porter Hollen, midfield, Torrey Pines (Calif.) / Deerfield (Mass.) / West Coast Starz / Brown
  35. Jack Whitney, defense, Berkshire (Conn.) / Eclipse / Michigan
  36. John Dixon, faceoff midfield, Noble and Greenough (Mass.) / Laxachusetts / Georgetown
  37. Brett Martin, midfield, Half Hollow Hills East (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Johns Hopkins
  38. Connor McDonough, attack, Moorestown (N.J.) / Big 4 HHH / Towson
  39. Jackson Peters, midfield, Darien (Conn.) / Eclipse / Navy

    A fast-rising product out of the Inter-Ac, Big 4 HHH’s Ethan Gyllenhaal is an excellent athlete who shoots well and chips in all over the field. Photo via Matt Chandik.

  40. Ethan Gylenhaal, midfield, Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) / Big 4 HHH / Bucknell
  41. Will Stax, midfield, Milton (Ga.) / Thunder LB3 / Air Force
  42. Tyler Cordes, midfield, Connetquot (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Navy
  43. Mason Drouin, midfield, Pinkerton (N.H.) / New Hampshire Tomahawks / Bryant
  44. Luke Mercer, midfield, John Jay (N.Y.) / Prime Time / Penn State
  45. Cole Kastner, defense, Menlo (Calif.) / West Coast Starz / Virginia
  46. Jack Tuttle, midfield, Castle View (Colo.) / Denver Elite / Denver
  47. Marquez White, midfield, Poway (Calif.) / Legends / Princeton
  48. Caden Hawkinson, LSM/defense, Cold Spring Harbor (N.Y.) / Team 91 Crush / Michigan
  49. Ajax Zappitello, LSM, Sunset (Ore.) / Legends / Maryland
  50. Matt Licata, attack, Timberlane (N.H.) / New Hampshire Tomahawks / Villanova

    New Hampshire Tomahawks standout Matt Licata, a recent Villanova verbal, excels off the dodge and finds a way to consistently produce. Photo via Matt Chandik.

3 Comments

  1. Terry Wrightson on September 4, 2019 at 4:07 am

    Would be great to see a ranking for the top 2020 class of uncommitted young players!

  2. Sergio Ali on September 10, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    Where is Gaven Gregorek MVP of the Long Island Championship ,2019 New York state champs of Shoreham Wading river ,Navy commit since 8th grade . Former Team 91 crush player.

    • Jim Phillips on September 17, 2019 at 2:04 am

      Zach Phillips Thunder LB3 Goalie completely shut out Team 91 Crush in the second half to secure The Naptown Title in 2018. Sure would like to see more SE players recognized.

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