March 1, 2011

Tuesdays with Corey: Siena Scores Late with Neufeld

by Corey McLaughlin | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff


Siena sniper Bryan Neufeld has become more adept at dodging and currently boasts the nation's longest active streak of games (38) with at least one point.

© Greg Wall

Quick: Which men's Division I player has the nation's longest active point-scoring streak at 38 consecutive games?

Here are some hints: He's a Canadian and was a first team all-conference pick last season. He once scored seven goals in a game against Stony Brook. So, we at least know it's not Kevin Crowley or Jordan McBride.

He's an attackman, and has led his team in goals the past two seasons. He has played in the NCAA tournament. As a freshman, he was mainly a finisher, but has developed his dodging and off-ball play while still being effective around the net.

"He's been able to improve and reinvent himself," his coach said.

"It's my job to get points," the player said, spoken like a true scorer. "I play the entire game, so I feel like I should get at least one point in the game. That's my take on it."

Do you know this man yet?

If not, it's OK. He's Siena junior Bryan Neufeld.

Neufeld was not highly recruited coming out of Nagron Lake in Ontario, Canada. In an age of the early recruiting schedule and commitments, he signed with Siena in March of his senior year of high school at Niagara District. Siena coach Brian Brecht said he saw Neufeld play for the first time at a fall tournament the Saints hosted in November of Neufeld's senior year.

"It was actually the last tournament I was going to play," Neufeld said of the games that pit his Canadian club field team, the Niagara Raiders, against American high school teams. "Our team did well. I emailed Coach Brecht and he said he'd love to have me. I went and visited and committed in March."

Neufeld joined a Siena team the next season that had many of its offensive roles filled by upperclassmen like Ryan Duggan, Jordan Loftus and Kenny Mazzone, who could initiate offense and let Neufeld hang around the net to finish or score in transition. As a freshman, Neufeld had a team-high 37 goals and 13 assists and was named MAAC Rookie of the Year as the Saints won their first ever conference title.

Sophomore year in 2010 was a similar situation. Neufeld led the team with 41 goals with seven assists.

Entering this season, Neufeld, a 5-foot-10, 180 pound attackman, had scored at least one point in every game of his college career, but hadn't really been counted on as a primary threat. This is where his development as player has come in. He's taken on more of an initiator role, Brecht said. Neufeld said he likes to create from "X."

Through three games — against Duke, Johns Hopkins and Air Force — he is already more than halfway to his assists total last season. He has four assists with six goals, shooting 46 percent, and has extended his point scoring streak to 38 straight games.

"He's been one of our most talented players and one of our lead guys since he stepped on campus," Brecht said. "He's done a great job of expanding his role on the team. His first year we had some older guys that were the dodgers and initiators, and Bryan was a finisher on the back end. Now he's expanded his role as a starter and a finisher and a leader. He's doing more things on and off ball and now on the perimeter. He's dodging, initiating and is still able to finish."

In a way, it should come as no surprise that the player with the longest active scoring streak is Canadian. The players who grew up playing indoors up north are seemingly everywhere in college lacrosse. But Neufeld is an under-the-radar Canadian without many junior indoor accolades to his name.

He played for Nagron Lake in junior 'B' ball and most recently the St. Catherines Athletics in junior 'A' the last two summers. Joel Matthews (Detroit Mercy) was a teammate there.

"This might be the healthiest story that you guys write about with all the early recruiting and writing about sophomores and freshmen," Brecht said of Neufeld. "Obviously you can't recruit 10 or 11 guys in March of their senior year, but I'm still a big believer in the older guys, watching them play the summer after their junior year. You can build relationships with kids and they understand who you are and you can know a kid a little better."

Neufeld is getting some people to know him better now.

"He's a natural scorer and has always had the ability to shoot and finish very well," Brecht said. "He's also very good off the ground in loose ball and scramble situations like a lot of Canadians. The ball is always in play in the box game, whether someone is possession or a shot or missed pass. They're always competing."

Brecht also likes Neufeld's intangibles as Siena tries to win the MAAC and return to the NCAA tournament. They were picked to win the conference by league coaches.

"He's a leader because he does everything the right way," Brecht said. "He's a gym rat, always doing extra shoot and watching film. He's a great student. He has a 3.5 in the business program, a finance major. He's the true student-athlete. That's what we're looking for. As much as you think he's doing a heck of a job on the field with his 38-game scoring streak and being our leading goal scorer the last two years, he is that much butter on campus as a person socially and as a student in the classroom."

The NCAA said it doesn't have a record on file for consecutive games with at least one point by a single player. But Neufeld theoretically has some work to do. Tom Marechek (Syracuse) and Terry Riordan (Johns Hopkins) hold the all-time record for consecutive games with at least one goal with 56 straight games each.

HIGH FIVE

In keeping with the under-the-radar theme, "High Five" returns with a look at five undrafted college seniors who may find Major League Lacrosse work come the summer.

For those unaware, the MLL for the first time held its collegiate draft in January, prior to the college and pro seasons. The top seniors were all picked, but the new draft format also leaves open the possibility for some notable waiver wire pickups come May -- especially if someone emerges from obscurity during the season.

Undrafted players, and only those without any college eligibility remaining, who are interested in playing MLL this season will be allowed to register for the MLL Player Pool for a one-week period after the NCAA season ends Memorial Day. After that, the six pro teams will select players using the normal MLL waiver-wire process (team with the worst record has first shot).

Here are some that could be picked:

1. Jamie Lincoln, A, Hofstra – The lefty finisher is one of the key cogs in Hofstra's offense. He scored 33 goals and 20 assists a year ago. On Monday he was named CAA Player of the Week following a four-goal game Saturday in the Pride's 11-9 win over Hofstra.

2. Bray Malphrus, D, Virginia – Has had plenty of experience against the nation's top competition for three years in the ACC. He's a former Lacrosse Magazine fitness issue gym rat, a hard hitter (see hit on Billy Bitter at last year's Big City Classic) and more than competent on ground balls. He had 24 caused turnovers and 50 ground balls a year ago.

3. Kyle Wharton, A, Johns Hopkins – We know he has a fast shot. Remember when he ripped a net against Towson? Through three games, he has six goals on 23 shots and four assists, and is being counted on as one of few seniors on a young Johns Hopkins teams. Wharton was held out of preseason scrimmages with an undisclosed injury, but has played in every game this season.

4. Trevor Moore, A, Robert Morris – A preseason All-Northeast Conference pick, Moore ranked 10th nationally in points per game in 2010 (34g, 25a, 3.39 ppg) and is a balanced offensive threat. He's also a Canadian. Moore has nine goals and two assists in three games, including three goals in a season-opening loss to North Carolina, the Colonials toughest competition so far.

5. Tom Perini, A, Lafayette – The Leopards' offense took the nation by storm last year, and Perini became a target of defenses as the season went on. He's a returning first team All-Patriot league pick who scored 32 goals and six assists a year ago. The St. Anthony's (N.Y.) product was 2008 Patriot League Rookie of the Year.

LACROSSE-RELATED YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE WEEK

I promise this will be the last Penn State reference in this column for at least a decent amount of time, but indulge me because it's for a good cause, as in raising more than $9.5 million for charity. Each year, Penn State students organize and participate in THON, a 46-hour dance marathon held at the Bryce Jordan Center in the name of raising funds for pediatric cancer patients and research.

Several Penn State athletic teams perform skits on stage during the event, including this year the men's lacrosse team, as shown below. As always with these videos there is funny user commentary. You can even see a Clay Matthews-like mane of blonde hair on Penn State freshman goalie Austin Kaut.

Students this year raised $9,563,016.09 for the Four Diamonds Fund. THON has raised more than $78 million in 34 years partnering with the fund to help children with cancer at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

These aren't the greatest words ever spoken, but read them in context. "The fans got what they expected," Buffalo Bandits forward John Tavares said in a gross understatement after the East's 30-26 victory over the West in the National Lacrosse League All-Star Game Sunday afternoon in upstate New York.

Maybe the final score is what Tavares, the NLL's all-time leading scorer, wanted as well. There was no defense. Each team had 81 shots on goal. Even three goalies registered assists. Nick Patterson (Minnesota Swarm) and Chris Levis (Colorado Mammoth) had two assists, each making deep behind-the-back passes. Anthony Cosmo (Boston Blazers) was also credited with one assist.

FINAL THOUGHT

Steele Stanwick put his name squarely in consideration for the Tewaaraton Trophy with a five-goal, two-assist performance Sunday at Stony Brook. With the Brattons back in Charlottesville serving one-game suspensions for violating team rules, Stanwick carried the day with an impressive second half.

For all his talent, poise, vision and production, Stanwick has been underappreciated somewhat nationally because of a great supporting cast with Virginia. That's strange to say for a player that Dom Starsia said will be on the "very short list of the best attackmen in the game."

In the game, he said. Not just at Virginia.

It will be interesting to see how Stanwick performs in the game of the year so far at Syracuse Friday night.


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