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By Craig Rybczynski, 08/28/23, 10:30AM PDT


The All-Star Teams were announced this week after one of the most successful National Collegiate Box Series (NCBS) National Championships. The Royals, who won their third straight title, placed three players on the All-NCBS Teams. The second-place Hawkeyes and the Buffaloes also received three selections. The First and Second teams were chosen by coaches and commissioners.

The fourth National Championship was held at The Utica University Nexus Center in Utica, NY. It was supported by the National Lacrosse League (NLL), the world's largest and most successful professional lacrosse property.

The First Team was headlined by three prolific scorers: Miles Botkiss (Royals), Zachary Terry (Hawkeyes), and the Red Hawks' Josh Carlson. Botkiss scored two overtime game winners and the winner in the NCBS Finals to give him 23 goals in five games. Terry led the tournament with 33 goals and 38 points as he led the Hawkeyes to their first Finals appearance. Carlson was the top scorer for the Red Hawks, who advanced to the Semifinals.

"It's really big to be recognized and seen at this stage," said Terry. "I could not have done it if I didn't have great teammates and coaches who helped me along the way."

The top defensemen were the Royals' Marquez White and two Upstate Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (UCBLL) players, Nathan Schultzie (Buffaloes) and Jake Piseno (Hawkeyes). White played a vital role in the Royals' Championship Game victory. He scored a breakaway goal in the third quarter. He blocked the final Hawkeyes' shot in the final frame and then sealed the win with an empty-net tally.

"Marquez is the most athletic kid I have ever coached," said Royals coach Cam Holding. "He is a leader by example, and his work ethic is unmatched. Since Day One, he and Miles Botkiss have been sponges, constantly trying to improve themselves and make the team better. You can define Marquez White based on his last two shifts in the Championship Game: solid transition, soaking shots, playing physical 'D,' and then beating three guys to secure a win. Pure heart!"

"Nate Schultzkie is a born leader. He puts his body on the line for his team and does whatever is asked of him," said Buffaloes coach Ron Cogan. "Nate keeps himself in excellent shape, and it showed throughout this tournament as his energy level never changed from the first game to the last. His one-on-one defense and ability to defend the pick and roll are top-notch."

Like Schultzie, Piseno showcased his talents in front of NLL players, coaches and general managers at the National Championship. They are both hoping to hear their names at the Sept. 16 NLL Entry Draft.

“Being named to the First Team was amazing. Even though I wasn’t there for the start of the season, I felt like with the recognition and accolades, my presence was felt,” said Piseno. “I had great coaches and great teammates who made me feel comfortable and helped me along the way. I am excited for the future as this was a big stepping stone in my journey to be in the NLL.”

The First Team goalies led their clubs to the Championship Game: John Jacobs (Hawkeyes) and Caleb Mackie (Royals). Jacobs finished the tourney with an incredible 7.00 goals-against average as he led his team to a 4-1 record. He finished the summer with an 11-1 mark for the Mearns Cup champions.

"That was the best lacrosse I've seen John play," said Hawkeyes coach Dan Coates. "All playoff long, he was a wall. He certainly gave our defense confidence to go out and put pressure on the ball carrier. He was such a beast. We're very proud of him."

Mackie was stellar in between the pipes as he was 5-0 and won three one-goal games. In the playoffs, he collected an 8.00 goals-against average. Against the high-scoring Hawkeyes, he allowed just two second-half goals in the title game. 

"Caleb Mackie is another guy who is a student of the game. He is laser-focused, and the entire team knows when he is in a groove," said Holding. "He found his groove at the end of the tournament and stood on his head when we needed him most. All year, Caleb asked how to get better, and he made some offseason changes to his stance to make him solid between the pipes."

The All-NCBS Second Team featured nine players from six different teams, including two from the Dragons of the California Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CACBLL). AJ Mercurio was recognized for his defense, and Patrick McIntosh was honored for his scoring ability. The Dragons were one goal away from reaching the Finals in their first NCBS appearance.

"These guys are competitors and hungry to win. They have a winning attitude, which is contagious to the rest of the team," said Dragons coach Shaydon Santos. "Our top performing players, Patrick McIntosh and AJ Mercurio, played youth box lacrosse for the Cali*Lax ALL-STARS. Patrick won gold at the USBOXLA Nationals and has been on countless Canadian tours, playing Canada's best. He was part of an impossible and historic USA win when his Cali*Lax ALL-STARS beat the Orangeville Midget 'A' team in Orangeville at the Barry Burman Tournament."

Two selections were brothers, as Colin and Ryan Sharkey were named the Second Team defensemen. Ryan played for the Hawkeyes, while Colin played for the Generals of the CT Collegiate Box Lacrosse League (CTCBLL).

"Being recognized with Ryan is a special feeling," said Colin. "Growing up in the same room and being there firsthand for each other's journeys, we know the work we put in every day, so for us to be acknowledged together on a stage like the NCBS felt great."

The offense included Chris Crapanzano (Generals) and 15-year-old Buffaloes forward Chace Cogan. Transition man Mark Henderson (Guardians) was also chosen after playing solid at both ends of the floor. Buffaloes coach Ron Cogan was excited for the three Buffaloes selected to the All-Star teams, especially for his son, Chace.

"Chace Cogan was one of our leaders on offense. Chace is only 15 years old but has the IQ of guys twice his age," said the Buffaloes coach. "This game comes naturally to him, and it showed throughout this tournament, whether he was setting up a teammate, running the point on the power play, or taking the shot himself."

The Second Team goalies were the Buffaloes' Gage Stevens and the Red Hawks' Andrew Williams. Stevens posted a 10.00 goals-against average, leading his team to back-to-back wins to end the NCBC National Championship. Williams, meanwhile, backstopped his team to the Semifinals.

"Gage Stevens was a brick wall throughout this tournament," said Ron Cogan. "We have so much confidence in Gage between the pipes. When the defense had a breakdown, he was always there to bail us out. What's not talked about is Gage's ability to outlet the ball after the save. He gets the ball up and out after as fast as anyone I have ever seen."

ALL NCBS 1st Team: Zachary Terry

ALL NCBS 1st Team: Miles Botkiss

ALL NCBS 1st Team: Josh Carlson

ALL NCBS 1st Team: Jake Piseno

ALL NCBS 1st Team: Marquez White

ALL NCBS 1st Team: John Jacobs

ALL NCBS 1st Team: Caleb Mackie