CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – University of North Carolina head men’s lacrosse coach Joe Breschi formally announced Thursday his third full recruiting class since taking over the reins of the Tar Heel program. Another outstanding group of prospective student-athletes will enroll at Carolina next month.
The class includes midfielder Brent Armstrong of Falls Church, Va.; goalkeeper Kieran Burke of Fort Salonga, N.Y.; defenseman Evan Connell of Lutherville, Md.; long-stick midfielder Nick Fonte of Freehold, N.J.; attackman Patrick Kelly of Lutherville, Md.; midfielder Jake Matthai of Baltimore, Md.; attackman midfielder Spencer Parks of Fallston, Md; midfielder Steve Pontrello of Marlton, N.J.; defenseman Zach Powers of Columbus, Ohio; long-stick midfielder Mark Rizzo of Hewlett, N.Y.; goalkeeper Duncan Saunders of Lawrenceville, N.J.; midfielder Brian Sherlock of Nissequogue, N.Y.; and midfielder Michael Tagliaferri of Danville, Calif.
Bio information on each member of UNC’s recruiting class follows:
Brent Armstrong is a 6-0, 190-pound midfielder from Falls Church, Va., and the son of John and Beth Armstrong. He graduated this past spring from St. Stephens and St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Va. Armstrong was a member of the U.S. U19 National Team which played in the FIL World Championships in Finland in July 2012. He was named to the 2012 Under Armour All-America Team. A two-time team captain, he eled St. Stephens and St. Agnes to state championships in 2010 and 2012, being named the championship game MVP as a senior. Armstrong totaled 161 points in his career on 98 goals and 63 assists. He had 48 goals and 31 assists as a senior.
Kieran Burke is a 5-11, 190-pound goalkeeper from Fort Salonga, N.Y., and the son of Brian and Grace Burke. He has been the starting varsity goalkeeper at St. Anthony’s High School in Dix Hills, N.Y., where he also played football. He helped lead St. Anthony’s to three successive Catholic League school championships on Long Island and was named the Catholic League goalkeeper of the year in 2011. He captained the St. Anthony’s team in 2012. He is the younger brother of a pair of former Tar Heel lacrosse players — Brian (Class of 2008) and Sean (Class of 2010).
Evan Connell is a 6-0, 180-pound defenseman from Lutherville, Md., and the son of Michael and Tracy Connell. He graduated from Calvert Hall High School in Towson, Md., where he was a standout in both lacrosse and soccer. A standout defender, he totaled 140 career ground balls with a career high 54 in his junior season. The #18 ranked senior in the Class of 2012 by Inside Lacrosse Magazine, Connell led Calvert Hall to the 2012 MIAA championship. A 2012 Under Armour All-America selection, he was a two-time All-Metro, two-time All-MIAA and two-time first-team All-State selection. He captained Calvert Hall as a senior and twice won the team’s defensive MVP accolade.
Nick Fonte is a 5-11, 195-pound long-stick midfielder from Freehold, N.J., and the son of Mark Fonte and Judy Fonte. Fonte played his first three years of high school lacrosse at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, N.J., before transferring to the Hill Academy in Vaughan, Ontario as a senior. As a junior he was an All-Conference selection at Christian Brothers and then served as the Hill Academy’s team captain as a senior. He was the valedictorian of the senior class at the Hill Academy in 2012.
Patrick Kelly is a 5-11, 180-pound attackman from Lutherville, Md., and the son of David (UNC Class of ’89) and Melissa Kelly. Kelly attended Calvert Hall High School in Towson, Md., where he was coached by his uncle Bryan (UNC Class of ’91). Kelly led Calvert Hall to the MIAA championship as a senior when he scored 44 goals and had 40 assists. Kelly was an Under Armour All-America as a senior and finished his studies at Calvert Hall with a 4.0 grade point average. His brother David plays lacrosse at Rutgers and his cousin Frankie is a rising junior on the Tar Heel team. He was a two-time first-team All-MIAA selection and two-time Baltimore Sun All-Metro choice. Kelly was the winner of the C. Markland Kelly Award as the top high school player in the state as a senior. He was also named the Baltimore Sun’s All-Metro Player of the Year in 2012.
Jake Matthai is a 6-6, 225-pound midfielder from Baltimore, Md., and the son of Bruce and Cecily Matthai. His father played on UNC lacrosse teams from 1976-79 and was a senior of Hall of Fame coach Willie Scroggs’ first UNC squad. An alumnus of the Gilman School where he was coached by Tar Heel alum Brooks Matthews, ’91, Matthai played four sports in high school (lacrosse, soccer, basketball and football). As a senior lacrosse player he was Gilman’s nominee for the C. Markland Kelly Award (which went to fellow UNC freshman Patrick Kelly), an Under Armour All-America, Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro and the Baltimore Messenger Player of the Year recipient. He had a spectacular senior year as he notched 21 goals, added 12 assists and scooped up 35 ground balls. He led Greyhound teams to a quarter of MIAA championships in four different sports — in football in the fall of 2009, in soccer in the fall of 2010, in lacrosse in the spring of 2011 and in basketball in the winter of 2012. He captained the Gilman basketball team as a senior.
Spencer Parks is a 5-10, 185-pound attackman/midfielder from Fallston, Md., and the son of George and Lisa Parks. He graduated this spring from St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, Md. A four-year starter in lacrosse, he also played quarterback on the football team for three years. A 2012 Under Armour All-America selection, Parks was a two-time All-MIAA selection and a finalist for the C. Markland Kelly Award as the top player in the state. As a sophomore, he led St. Paul’s to the MIAA championship. He finished his career with 162 points on 100 goals and 62 assits. As a senior he had 71 points (39 goals and 32 assists).
Steve Pontrello is a 5-9, 180-pound midfielder who was a member of the U.S. U19 National Team which played at the FIL World Championships in 2012. A native of Marlton, N.J., he is the son of Paul and Maria Pontrello. He is a 2012 alumnus of St. Augustine Prep where he captained the team as a junior and senior. A three-time high school All-America, he was named to the prestigious Under Armour All-America Team in 2012. A proficient midfield scorer, he finished his career with 196 goals and 101 assists. As a senior he totaled 50 goals and 37 assists and had at least 45 goals every year he played at St. Augustine. He was named the New Jersey high school player of the year as both a junior and senior. His older brother, Nikko, was a freshman on Loyola’s NCAA championship team in 2012.
Zach Powers is a 6-1, 185-pound defenseman from Columbus, Ohio, and the son of Chris Powers and Mary McCarley. He played lacrosse and football for four years at Upper Arlington High School, captaining both sports as a senior. Another 2012 Under Armour All-America, Powers led UAHS to state lacrosse titles in 2010 and 2012. A two-time All-Midwest selection, he was the Ohio and Midwest players of the year in 2012 and Ohio’s defensive player of the year as both a junior and senior. As a senior, Powers had 67 ground balls and 42 takeaways to go with three goals and six assists. He had 59 ground balls as a junior.
Mark Rizzo is a 6-1, 190-pound long-stick defensive midfielder from Hewlett, N.Y., and the son of Ray and Kelly Rizzo. He played four years of both football and lacrosse at George W. Hewlett High School. Rizzo finished his career with 28 goals and 29 assists to go along with 267 ground balls. As a senior he had eight goals and 15 assists, 84 ground balls and 24 caused turnovers. His season high for ground balls was his junior year when he had 107 to go along with 23 points. Rizzo was a three-time All-Nassau County selection and two-time captain of the lacrosse team at Hewlett. His brother Matt played on the University of Michigan team which won the MCLA national championship in 2010.
Duncan Saunders is a 5-10, 165-pound goalkeeper from Lawrenceville, N.J., and the son of Daniel Saunders and Melissa Saunders. Saunders attended Hopewell Valley Central High School in New Jersey before graduating from the Hill School in Pennsylvania this past spring. A three-sport high school athlete, he was MVP and captain of his lacrosse team.
Brian Sherlock is a 5-10, 185-pound midfielder from Nissequogue, N.Y., and the son of Kevin and Debbie Sherlock. He is a 2012 alumnus of St. Anthony’s High School in Huntington, N.Y., where he played both lacrosse and football. As a senior he scored 39 goals and had 12 assists after totaling 31 goals and passing for 14 assists as a junior. He led St. Anthony’s to a pair of Catholic League Championships in both lacrosse and football. As a senior he was the Catholic League Midfielder of the Year and team captain and MVP.
Michael Tagliaferri is a 6-0, 200-pound midfielder from Danville, Calif., and the son of John and Carol Tagliaferri. He is the first Californian to make a U.S. National Team at any level as he played for the U.S. contingent in the 2012 U19 World Championships in Finland. A star both on the lacrosse field and the football team for four years, he graduated from San Ramon Valley High School in 2012. He was recently named an Under Armour All-America after a career in which he scored 196 goals and passed for 126 assists. He had 48 goals and 25 assists as a senior after notching 105 points as a junior (64 goals and 41 assists). Tagliaferri was named the state’s top lacrosse player as both a junior and senior. He was a two-time league MVP and was named a U.S. Lacrosse All-America as both a junior and senior.
Watch Michal Tagliaferri’s High School Lacrosse Highlights