WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Monmouth University head men’s lacrosse coach Brian Fisher recently announced the program’s incoming class, which features 10 freshmen and three transfer student-athletes. Monmouth, which won six games in 2015, and advanced to the conference semifinals, was amongst the nation’s leaders in multiple defensive categories.
Joining the Hawks’ program this year are New Jersey products Griffin Figel (Basking Ridge, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan), and a set of brothers – twinsChandler and Conner Vanderbeek (Martinsville, N.J./Immaculata/High Point), who transferred from High Point University and younger brother Griffin Vanderbeek (Martinsville, N.J./Immaculata). Also donning the Blue & White this season will be transfer goalkeeper Alex Ataiifar (West Chester, Pa./Downingtown West/SUNY Cortland), Eamon Campbell (Massapequa, N.Y./St. Anthony’s), Mike Dedvukaj (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Yorktown), Sam Fink (Wilmington, Del./Salesianum), Adam Friedman (Ellicott City, Md./Howard), Jake Henze (New Britain, Pa./Central Bucks South), Hunter Jones (Abington, Pa./Abington Senior), Gordon Phillips (Port Coquittam, British Columbia/Trinity Pawling) and Jake Willson (Maple Grove, Minn./Maple Grove Senior).
“As we get set to welcome our third recruiting class to campus this fall, we are excited about what the future holds for our program,” stated Fisher, who guided the Hawks to a conference semifinal appearance last year, in the program’s second year.
Fisher added, “The incoming 2015 class is a much smaller class than our first two, but is one that is loaded with talent and depth.”
Figel, a first-team all-state selection in 2015 while leading Bridgewater-Raritan to a Tournament of Champions title, led the Panthers with 105 points on 54 goals and 51 assists. The all-time point leader in B-R program history, Figel was a 2015 All-American selection, while also being named Attackman of the Year by the New Jersey Coaches, the Courier News Player of the Year, Skyland Conference Player of the Year and First-Team All-Somerset County, All-Group IV and All-State. Behind its 23-0 record, Bridgewater-Raritan captured county and conference championships, the Group IV title and finished the campaign with a No. 4 national ranking.
“Griffin had a great year and was instrumental in helping his high school team win a state championship,” stated Fisher. “He plays hard and with passion each time he hits the field, has a very high lacrosse IQ and the skill to be a very good player at our level.”
Chandler Vanderbeek, who along with his twin brother Connor, transferred after one season at High Point University, which won the 2015 Big South Conference Championship. Chandler, who made two appearances for the Panthers as a freshman, was a four-year varsity midfielder at Immaculata High School, where he was a two-time all-conference selection. A second-team all-state pick in 2013, the midfielder registered 103 goals and 43 assists during his prep career, and was also a three-year letterwinner in football as a running back, where he was lauded as all-conference, all-county and second-team all-state.
“Along with his brother Connor, Chandler will bring some valuable experience from the past year,” said Fisher. “His athleticism, toughness and playmaking ability will bolster an already deep position for us at the midfield.”
Connor Vanderbeek, who competed in four games as a freshman at High Point University, was a four-year letterwinning midfielder at Immaculata High School, where he posted 100 career goals and 53 assists. Connor was a two-time all-conference pick as well as a first-team all-state selection and IHS Offensive MVP in 2013. Also a three-year varsity letterwinner in football, Connor was twice named all-conference.
“As a transfer, Connor brings some NCAA tournament experience along with a gritty and tough style of play that will add depth to our midfield ranks as well as provide another option at the face off position,” added Fisher.
Griffin Vanderbeek, the younger brother of the twins, was a four-year varsity letterwinner as an attackman at Immaculata, where he posted 114 goals and 54 assists during his prep career. An all-conference, all-county and first-team all-state selection, Griffin also earned two varsity letters on the football field, where he was tabbed all-conference and all-county.
“Griffin is a tough and physical dodger who plays hard and competes with a passion each time he steps out onto the field,” stated Fisher. “His relentless style of play will be fun to watch this coming fall.”
Ataiifar, a transfer goalkeeper from SUNY Cortland, which advanced to the 2015 NCAA Quarterfinals, was a four-year letterwinner at Downingtown West High School, winning a pair of league titles. A 2013 Brine All-American, Ataiifar collected 398 career saves, and was second-team all-league, team MVP and team captain as a senior. During his All-America campaign as a junior, Ataiifar was named second-team all-league and the defensive MVP.
“Alexander will join our team as a transfer this fall,” noted Fisher. “A former teammate of junior Tyler Keen, he will fit in nicely with our goalie corps in the coming year. Alexander is a hard worker with quick hands and moves very well for his size and has strong presence in the goal.”
A two-sport standout at St. Anthony’s High School, Campbell was named the team MVP as a senior following his 31 goals and 28 assists. The Catholic School League Attack Player of the Year, Campbell was honored with the school’s Charles McLaughlin Memorial Award, in recognition of athletic and academic excellence and leadership ability. Campbell also earned four letters on the football field as a linebacker and punter, where he earned the St. Anthony’s Memorial Award.
“Eamon comes from one of the more recognizable lacrosse programs on Long Island,” said Fisher. “He had a great senior season on a very talented team and is a very good and instinctual lacrosse player who can do it all.”
Dedvukaj, a two-sport standout in lacrosse and football at Yorktown High School, posted 98 goals and 24 assists during his midfield career with the Cornhuskers, while winning a state championship in 2014. An All-American selection in lacrosse, Dedvukaj was also an all-conference and all-section pick in football as a running back and linebacker, where he recorded 400 rushing yards, 200 receiving yards and 70 tackles.
“Mike comes from a very good high school program and is a strong, physical north-south dodger that shoots the ball very well,” stated Fisher.
A four-year varsity letterwinner at Salesianum High School, Fink won a pair of state championships as a freshman and sophomore, and capped his prep career with a third trophy in 2015, while being named second-team all-state. In his first three seasons, Fink posted 78 goals and 53 assists and was named an Under Armour All-Star twice.
Fisher stated, “Sam is a very crafty attackman who excels around the goal. He is very good off ball at getting open and finding seams. Combined with his skill and finishing ability, he is dangerous.”
Friedman, a team captain and scholar-athlete, started every game of his prep career at Howard High School, where he won a county, regional and state championship as a senior in 2015. The school-record holder for takeaways, Friedman was named first-team all-county, Washington Post Honorable Mention All-Metro, Baltimore Sun Second-Team All-Metro and MSLCA Public School All-State in 2015. Selected to the 2014 Brine National Classic All-American team and for the Brine National Tournament, Friedman also earned letters in football and winter track.
“Adam came on strong towards the end of last summer and as we got to know him at our prospect day, we really began to see all of the invisible plays that he makes that we value,” noted Fisher. “He is a smart and vocal defender who competes every time he steps on the field.”
Henze, a four-year varsity starter and three-time team captain at Central Bucks South, finished his prep career with 271 groundballs, 70 goals and 58 assists. A first-team all-league selection and team MVP as both a junior and senior, Henze was first-team all-conference as a junior and helped lead his Bucks County Team to the gold medal at the 2014 Pennsylvania Keystone Games.
“Jake is a throwback, do it all, two-way midfielder,” stated Fisher. “He is a hard worker between the lines, tough downhill dodger and one of the toughest athletes each time he steps on the field.”
Jones, who notched 78 goals and 58 assists as a senior, finished his four-year varsity prep career with 337 total points on 181 goals and 156 assists at Abington Senior High School, which won a pair of league titles. A three-time first-team all-league attackman, Jones was a two-time team captain and named Team Offensive MVP as a junior and Team MVP as a senior.
Fisher said, “Hunter possesses the size, strength and skill to be very good. He is another good and instinctual offensive player with a knack for making plays.”
Phillips, face-off specialist and long-stick midfielder, was the Trinity Pawling Annual Award winner in 2014. A 2013 All-Star selection with Team New England Storm, Phillips was named the 2013 BC Provincial Championship Finals MVP.
“Gordon is a hard-working and dynamic long stick midfielder who will add depth and competition immediately to our long stick midfield corps,” noted Fisher. “He has a very good stick, is athletic, tough and possesses good offensive instincts with the ball in his stick.”
Willson, a four-year letterwinning midfielder and two-time captain at Maple Grove Senior High School, led the team to the state championship in 2015, posting a pair of game-winning goals in overtime along the way. A first-team all-conference and all-section pick, Willson led the Crimson in goals (29), assists (20) and points (49) as a senior. Willson, who earned two varsity letters in football as a linebacker, was also a first-team all-section and all-conference selection in lacrosse as a junior.”
Jake is a smooth and athletic midfielder who can do a variety of things,” stated Fisher. “He can play a variety of roles from wings off the face-off, defense, transition and also has the skill to run on a regular midfield.”
Fisher noted, “As a group, they will certainly help us on the field in this coming year but will also fit in with the Monmouth standard that our current team has created.”
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