September 15, 2011

Freshman 15: College Rookies to Watch

by Corey McLaughlin |

Brown lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany described Tyler Landis as a Wes Welker-type football player, boasting the kind of speed that will give him plenty of opportunities as a lacrosse midfielder with the Bears.

© Jim Cowsert

Each September, the dawn of a new fall season evokes rhetoric of fresh starts and new faces among college lacrosse programs. Everyone wants to know what freshmen will take the college ranks by storm. There are the best, and there are the players coming into the right situation at the right time.

The following is a mix of both — 15 first-year college lacrosse players who will see significant field time upon their arrival this fall, and who could have the most immediate impact at the Division I level next spring.

Tatum Coffey, Penn State

Position: Midfield
High School: Toms River North (N.J)

Coffey originally committed to UMass, but on July 1, 2010, then-coach Alexis Venechanos left to take a job at Ohio State, changing Coffey's plans. She had to go through the recruiting process again, but said she actually enjoyed seeing more schools. She chose Penn State, led by new coach Missy Doherty.

Coffey is part of Doherty's first full recruiting class, an eight-player group that's looking to turn the tide in Happy Valley. Eight seniors graduated. There will be just six seniors and two true juniors on this year's roster, leaving chances open for underclassmen.

"I'm confident about the team. I'm excited to bond more with the players. I'm expecting, with Missy, to hopefully get to the final four, you know? That's what I hope the goal is," Coffey said.
In the Under Armour All-America girls' game in July, Coffey led the North squad to a 15-10 win. She had five goals, including back-to-back scores in the second half to give her team a three-goal lead. Coffey, a U.S. U19 team member, also at times played defense, contributed to several draw controls, and maneuvered out of traffic to give her team possession.

Asked of her strengths as a player, Coffey replied, "Speed and vision on the field."

Conor Doyle, Notre Dame

Position: Attack/Midfield
High School: Gilman (Md.)

Conor Doyle made his mark as an attackman at Gilman, coming up big in big games, scoring the winner in a regular-season overtime win against Boys' Latin and registering five points in the MIAA title game against Calvert Hall. His high school coach, Brooks Matthews, called Doyle a complete player for his dodging, passing, ground ball and riding ability. This is why the Notre Dame coaching staff would like to see Doyle on the field — somewhere. But at what position?

"They've really said just anyway we can get you on the field, whether it be though the box or on attack," Doyle said.

U.S. U19 star Covie Stanwick should further fortify a Boston College team coming off an NCAA tournament appeareance.

© Kevin P. Tucker

Notre Dame returns two attackmen that started every game last season, and two others that started at times. The midfield situation is more uncertain. The Irish need to replace Zach Brenneman and David Earl, both All-Americans and MLL draft picks.

"If I can help the team out in the midfield I definitely would, but obviously I'd rather play attack," Doyle said. "I like carrying the ball, not really making too many moves. Just one move, and go by my guy. Make the defense rotate, and get my teammates involved."

Brandon Gamblin, UMass

Position: Midfield
High School: Sachem North (N.Y.)

The Minutemen have a spot on their first midfield line left open by a graduated senior. Gamblin is squarely in the running for the position.

"[UMass coach Greg Cannella] told me that I was probably going to be the one to take the starting spot," Gamblin said. "He expects me to be ready day one on the field and start, and to be able to produce at the college level."

At Sachem North on Long Island his senior year, Gamblin scored 72 points, including 50 goals, a year after transferring from Hicksville, where he played varsity since eighth grade. Gamblin has a strong shot, ability with both hands and can take faceoffs. He left high school at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds and said he would like to put on 20 pounds by the start of the college season. "I'm small, but quick and fast," he said.

Gamblin knows he needs to be ready.

"My dad has DVR'd almost every college lacrosse game from last year," Gamblin said. "I'm going through them, seeing anything I can pick up on, tendencies or different styles of play."

Tyler Landis, Brown

Position: Midfield
High School: Coppell (Texas)

Landis is one of the Coppell Seven, a group from football-crazed Texas headed to play Division I lacrosse. Five of them were key members of the Coppell football team, which reached the state title game last fall in Texas' largest classification, a big deal in that part of the country.

But Landis, a midfielder in lacrosse, joined Syracuse-bound long stick Brandon Mullins and a few others who decided their spring sport would be one they continue at the next level. They enjoyed bringing their public school program to the heights of Texas high school lacrosse, winning the Division I title this year over Dallas Jesuit after capturing the Division II crown the previous two years.

Ryan Tucker's size (6-foot-2) and lacrosse pedigree may force Virginia to utilize him in its deep midfield already featuring "disgusting players" like Chris LaPierre, Rob Emery and Colin Briggs.

© John Strohsacker/

In this year's title game, Landis scored four goals and was named MVP to cap a strong season.

Brown lacrosse coach Lars Tiffany described Landis as a Wes Welker-type football player. Landis, listed at 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, was named first team all-state by the Texas Sports Writers Association after finishing with 83 catches for 1,233 yards and 14 touchdowns as a wideout. Other players on the first team list will play football for schools like Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

The well-conditioned Landis will have plenty of chances to run, pass and catch — a lacrosse ball — in the midfield at Brown, Tiffany said.

Joe McCallion, Penn

Position: Faceoff/Midfield
High School: Haverford (Pa.)

McCallion was the top faceoff man for Lacrosse Magazine's top-ranked high school team in the country, and he heads to college program in need of help at his specialty. McCallion won nearly 65 percent of faceoffs as a senior at Haverford and had 10 goals and 18 assists in a limited offensive role.

Penn, as a team, averaged 42.7 percent faceoff success last year. Denny Feeney took most of the draws as a freshman last spring and won 43.7 percent. Five others saw limited time.

McCallion should start off his college career with at least some familiarity with the school and program. He played for second-year Penn coach Mike Murphy in a club tournament when Murphy was still the coach at Haverford College. McCallion's older sister, Kelly, is a junior attacker on the Penn women's lacrosse team.

David Solomon, Maryland

Position: Attack
High School: Salisbury (Conn.)

Maryland's much-talked-about 17-member senior class of 2011 is gone. Enter a class of seven freshmen, some of whom will look to fill voids left on attack. One to watch is Solomon, who spent last season at Salisbury (Conn.) after transferring from St. Stephen's and St. Agnes in his native Northern Virginia. Solomon, ESPN RISE's top-ranked rising senior last year, is a great creator and can work from behind the net, something the Terps will need with quarterback Ryan Young graduated.

"I think I would work well with him," said Jay Carlson, another Maryland freshman and crease attackman who anticipates sitting behind Joe Cummings for a year. "We have a pretty good recruiting class, a lot of good attackmen. It's going to be fun to play with all them and see how the chemistry works."

Courtney Swan "plays at another level," her high school coach says, which should bode well for her as she joins a rebuilding Virginia program.

© Scott McCall

Covie Stanwick, Boston College

Position: Attack
High School: Notre Dame Prep (Md.)

The last name you know. And her game you might know as well. Stanwick has been known to carry an attack unit without hogging the ball. Sound familiar? See 2011 Tewaaraton Award winner Steele, one of Covie's eight lacrosse-playing siblings.

Boston College could use a distributor with Stanwick's uncanny vision and poise. More generally, Stanwick would like to help Boston College continue its recent success, including an NCAA tournament appearance last spring.

Unlike her three older sisters, Stanwick will not to play at Georgetown, but there is a Hoya connection to her arrival in Boston. Bowen Holden, the Eagles' head coach, is a former All-American goalie at Georgetown and played with former Tewaaraton finalist and current analyst Sheehan Stanwick Burch in 2001, the year Georgetown finished as national runner-up to Maryland.

Barbara Sullivan, Notre Dame

Position: Defense
High School: Garden City (N.Y.)

When interviewed for this story midsummer, Sullivan did not know her new coach at Notre Dame would be Christine Halfpenny, formerly of William and Mary. Tracy Coyne, the coach the previous 15 seasons, did not have her contract renewed. Halfpenny inherits a leader on the field in Sullivan.

"I love to win, I'm very competitive. Hopefully I bring a winning attitude," said Sullivan, who led Garden City on Long Island to an undefeated record and a sixth straight state Class B title last spring. She's also a member of the U.S. U19 team.

The consistent winning at Garden City sometimes got boring, Sullivan said, but that has actually whetted her appetite for competition for a defensive spot upon arrival in South Bend. Sullivan said Coyne had her slotted for a defensive role on the wing or circle.

"At Garden City, you play a lot of easy games and it gets kind of old after a while," Sullivan said. "I like winning, but I'm really excited to have to challenge to earn a spot again. It will be hard, but I'm looking forward to it."

This year Sullivan became the first athlete in the 49-year history of Newsday All-Long Island

Lyle Thompson will likely make it an all-Thompson attack line at Albany, where he'll join his older brother Miles and his cousin Ty.

© John Strohsacker/

awards to make All-LI teams for the fall, winter and spring of the same school year, also qualifying for soccer and basketball.

Courtney Swan, Virginia

Position: Midfield
High School: Vero Beach (Fla.)

Swan finished her four-year Vero Beach career with 307 goals. She scored in every game except one.

"She plays at another level," Vero Beach coach Shannon Dean told "She plays like a person on the collegiate level, whether it's scoring goals, playing defense or dominating ground balls."

Swan made waves again this summer, being named MVP of the U19 girls' competition in Vail. Her team, HLA, was coached by St. Stephen's and St. Agnes coach Kathy Jenkins, who has sent a number of players to Virginia and knows the expectations of the program.

"She was telling me to be in shape, do your workout packet, or things aren't going to be good," Swan said. "I'm going to work as hard as I can to be in shape and be prepared when I get there. I'm really excited to play with great players, because in Florida, the competition isn't as great. To play with really good people is going to be exciting for me."

Caroline Tarzian, Georgetown

Position: Attack
High School: Garden City (N.Y.)

There are four incoming freshmen who can make an immediate impact at Georgetown — Tarzian, attacker Lauren Schwalje, midfielder Caroline Seats and defender Megan Marinelli.

But perhaps the most glaring set of circumstances involve Tarzian. The lefty attacker is joining a team that has no other lefty attackers. Two graduated from last year's Georgetown team.

"I know there are a lot of attackers that graduated, so hopefully I'll get some time," said Tarzian, who scored 58 goals and had 42 assists her senior season at Garden City. "I like to feed a lot, but I'll take it too. I'm lefty; that helps me out a little bit. But nothing was promised for me."

Lyle Thompson, Albany

Position: Attack/Midfield
High School: Lafayette (N.Y.)

Lyle Thompson knows some of his future Albany teammates well.

Duke coach Kerstin Kimel expects a "smooth transition" for U.S. U19 team captain Taylor Trimble.

© Greg Carroccio

"Miles and Ty are the other attackmen, and they're off-ball players," he said of Miles Thompson, his older brother, and Ty Thompson, his cousin, both rising sophomores at Albany. "I can help out by being a feeder, drawing a lot of attention, drawing some doubles and hitting the open man."

The Great Danes need somebody to do that in the absence of Brian Caufield, the team's go-to offensive creator as a senior last year (9g, 22a while missing some time due to injury). "My job is going to be to fill his spot," the 6-foot, 175-pound Thompson said. "I'm excited to get on the team, start playing and see what I can do. I think I'll be a big part of the team as a freshman."

Of being the latest Thompson to play collegiate lacrosse — oldest brother Jerome was an NJCAA Player of the Year at Onondaga, Jeremy went to Syracuse and is with the MLL's Hamilton Nationals and Miles will be with him at Albany — Lyle said with a smile, "I don't think of it as pressure. They push me to do better than them. I think my dad expects the most out of me because I'm the youngest."

Taylor Trimble, Duke

Position: Midfield
High School: Episcopal (Pa.)

Duke head coach Kerstin Kimel said Trimble "is a dominant two-way player who we expect to have a smooth transition to ACC lacrosse." Translation: Look for her on the field as a freshman.
Trimble scored 96 goals as a senior at Episcopal. She finished her four-year career with 297 career goals, 124 assists, 346 ground balls and 201 draw controls.

The U.S. U19 team captain "has great skills and is able to finish and distribute the ball," Kimel said, adding that those qualities will let her be successful in the Blue Devils' system. "More importantly, Taylor is a great leader as demonstrated by her selection as team captain for the U.S. U19 team, and I expect her to fill a similar role within her class at Duke as well."

Ryan Tucker, Virginia

Position: Midfield
High School: Gilman (Md.)

Ryan Tucker, like other lacrosse observers, watched Virginia's carousel of midfielders step up during the Cavaliers' unlikely 2011 championship run.

"Chris LaPierre, Rob Emery, Colin Briggs, they're all disgusting players," Tucker said, in a good way. "They never get tired. They always make the right play. They always stepped up when Virginia needed them to. I don't know how I'm going to fit into that right away, but hopefully I'll work my way up."

Brandon Gamblin figures to step into the last spot on UMass' first midfield line.

© Chris Vaccaro

Tucker has shown the ability and intangibles to fit in somehow. He comes from a terrific lacrosse pedigree, as the son of three-time U.S. team member and professional coach John Tucker and Johns Hopkins women's lacrosse coach Janine Tucker. In mid-May, Ryan led Gilman to a stunning comeback over Boys' Latin in the MIAA A semifinals. With Gilman trailing by three and playing man down with a little over a minute left, he scored twice, won two faceoffs, tied the game with 23 seconds left in regulation and scored the game winner in overtime. Tucker was one of 23 players named in July to the 2012 U.S. men's U19 team.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder said this fall he's wants to become stronger to aim for a second midfield spot, and maybe push for a first-line job. "I want to make sure Coach [Dom] Starsia knows I really want to be on the field," Tucker said. Coming from a family of coaches, he'll know how to do that.

Bobby Wardwell, Syracuse

Position: Goalkeeper
High School: Shenendehowa (N.Y.)

Wardwell is familiar with starting early. As a 5-foot-6 eighth-grader, he earned the starting goaltender job on the Shenendehowa varsity team. He will have the same opportunity in his first year at Syracuse. John Galloway, the graduated four-year starter and two-time national goalie of the year, has left big shoes to fill.

The Orange have three returning goalies on the roster: sophomore Ben Levy, redshirt sophomore Matthew Lerman and senior Paul Dubas, but they've played just over 48 minutes combined in their college careers. Wardwell was named MVP of the Under Armour All-America game in July after a 12-save second-half performance against some of the nation's finest players.

"When I first committed, the coaches said since Galloway is gone, it's going to be an open competition to see who gets it," said Wardwell, now 6-foot-1. "It's not going to be easy."

Annie Woehling, Princeton

Position: Goalkeeper
High School: Radnor (Pa.)

Woehling was the stopper on Radnor's 2009 and 2010 state championship teams. As a senior, she allowed just 6.7 goals per game and made 157 saves. At Princeton, she enters a promising situation to earn playing time.

Erin Tochihara started 52 of 53 games for the Tigers over the last three seasons, but she graduated. The lone returning goalie on the Princeton roster is Caroline Franke, a rising sophomore from Severn School (Md.), who saw action in one game as a freshman.

Woehling is a two-time first-team US Lacrosse All-American and was an Under Armour All-American in 2011.

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