LEXINGTON, Va. - On August 17, the Virginia Military Institute held matriculation, and among those present that day, 14 were recruited lacrosse players. All 14 of those players survived the Institute’s Hell Week, and head lacrosse coach Brian Anken has announced the incoming class for the 2013-14 academic year.
“We are all very excited about this class. They have all successfully completed their Hell Week requirements and are focused on the start of classes and the rapidly approaching first day of practice,” said Anken, who begins his fourth year on Post. “This class includes some tremendous athletes that will be expected to compete for playing time Immediately. Most importantly this group possesses the character and maturity necessary to be successful both on and off the field at VMI. We are all looking forward to the opportunity to begin working with this group.”
Below is a brief bio of the members of the incoming class along with their hometowns and high schools.
Tom Brown (Baltimore, Md.) - Not only was Brown one of the top defenseman at the highly-touted Boys Latin School of Maryland, but he was ranked No. 33 on Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s Top 40 Defensemen in the publication’s recruit rankings. Brown was a two-year letterwinner for coach Shriver at the perennial powerhouse and was named an MIAA second team All-Star by both the Towson Times and Baltimore Sun. Brown also collected second team All-Metro honors. Additionally, Brown was a member of the Baltimore CRABS Lacrosse Club, and participated in the Vail Shootout. A versatile athlete, he was a three-year letterwinner on the gridiron for coach Schell, playing both left tackle and defensive end, earning first team All-Conference honors, according to the Baltimore Sun. Brown plans to major in economics and business at the Institute.
Frank DiGiacomo (Sloatsburg, N.Y.) - DiGiacomo was a three-year standout in goal for Mike Springer at athletic power Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., seeing his team to a state championship as a senior. DiGiacomo was also active at the club level, playing for both the Trilogy All Stars and the Tri State All Stars. Off the field, DiGiacomo was the class president and served as a high school ambassador. DiGiacomo will look to major in economics and business at VMI.
Nick Dodd (Loudonville, N.Y.) - Serving as a captain at Shaker High School in Latham, N.Y., Dodd was a three-year letterwinner for Shawn Hennessey as a midfielder. He was named a first team Suburban Council All-Star his senior year, potting 34 goals along with 20 assists in the process. Dodd was also a member of the Albany Power Lacrosse Club. A dual-sport athlete, he was a four-year letterwinner on the wrestling mat for Dan Gibson, also serving as a captain. In his senior campaign, he collected 34 varsity wins and was named second team All-Suburban Council. Out of the athletic venues, Dodd was a member of the National Honor Society. He plans to major in international studies at the Institute.
Dan Ferrel (Naperville, Ill.) - No stranger to the military process, Ferrel comes to Lexington from the Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind. The defenseman was a four-year letterwinner for Jon Posner at the Academy. He also played for True Lacrosse, in addition to playing defensive tackle on Culver’s football team, earning one letter for Tom Baumgardner.
Joe Funaro (Smithtown, N.Y.) - Coming from one of the traditional hotbeds of lacrosse, Long Island, Funaro was a three-year letterwinner at attack for coach Lambert at Smithtown High School East in St. James, N.Y. Funaro was active on the Team Smithtown East lacrosse club. A three-sport athlete, he played forward on the basketball team and was a tight end on the football field. College athletics runs in his family; Funaro’s father, Joseph, was a pitcher at St. John’s University. During his time at the Institute, the younger Funaro plans to major in business and economics.
Andrew Givens (Spotsylvania, Va.) - A Virginia native, Givens was a three-year letterwinner at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, Va. as a midfielder. A two-time captain, Givens holds the school record for single season goals (27), assists and groundballs (89), earning him MVP honors in 2013. Givens also played for Team Virginia in 2011 and the Dominion Capitals in 2010 and 2011, both teams playing in the summer. During his high school days, Givens participated in the Brine Shootout, Champ Camp with Team Virginia and attended the Stonewall Lacrosse Boot Camp at VMI. In the falls of 2009 and 2010, Givens was a member of his high school’s cross country team. Off the field, he was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated with distinguished honors. He earned an Army ROTC scholarship to VMI, where he plans to major in civil engineering. His sister, Lauren, is a member of the cross country and track teams at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
Michael Hutwelker (Lahaska, Pa.) - Another product of a military system, Hutwelker comes to VMI from the Valley Forge Military Academy in Radnor, Pa., graduating in 2012 and spending the following year at Mercersburg Academy as a college prep year. Hutwelker lettered in two seasons for coach Pat Ryan, starting as a sophomore goalie and making saves on 60 percent of the shots he faced. For another two years, he lettered under Jay Peaky, earning team MVP honors while stopping shots at a 65-percent clip. While at Mercersburg, he lettered once under Mark Schindler, making saves nearly 70 percent of the time. In the club scene, Hutwelker was active with LB3 Lacrosse, Braveheart Lacrosse and the Penn Charter Club, a team with which he participated in the Brine Shootout. He was named All-League in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League, Metro Independent Lacrosse League and the Independent Parochial School League. Off the field, he was a chairman for Keystone Boys State and was in the Anthony Wayne Legion Guard at Valley Forge. He finished second among all cadets in oratorical competition and won the Chaplin’s Award for outstanding service at Valley Forge. Hutwelker was also named the Best New Cadet. College lacrosse is part of the Hutwelker family, as his cousin, Steven Hutwelker, played for four years at St. Mary’s (Md.) College. Hutwelker will look to major in mechanical engineering at VMI.
Anthony Izzo (Hillsborough, N.J.) - Izzo won a letter his senior year at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J., playing for Marc Moreau. He was also a member of the football team as a defensive tackle for Bob Molarz. Not to be trifled with, Izzo is a first degree black belt in the taekwondo discipline. Izzo plans to major in business and economics during his time on Post.
Kasey Kettle (Annandale, Va.) - Another Virginian, Kettle lettered all four years at the Flint Hill School in Oakton, Va., including three for Adam Rice as a midfielder. He also lettered for coach Eldridge, earning offensive MVP honors that season. Kettle participated on the FCA, SMS and VLC club teams, earning an FCA regional scholarship. During his senior season, Kettle helped lead Flint Hill to the state playoffs. A dual athlete, he lettered in one season in football, playing outside linebacker and wide receiver for Mike Verbanic. His father, Kevin, was a club rugby player at the University of Richmond. The incoming freshman plans to major in economics and business at VMI.
Dale Mattice (Victor, N.Y.) - Another incoming freshman who opted for a year at prep school, Mattice competed at Bridgton Academy in 2013, following a four-year career at Victor High School. During that span, he lettered all four seasons as a midfielder for Nick Ballou in ninth and 10th grade, while Mike Gottko coached him in his final two seasons. The 2012 Victor graduate served as a team captain in 2011 and 2012, Victor High School has never seen a better faceoff man, with Mattice winning 58.60 percent of his draws (338 of 576), ranking him first all-time. He finished career ranked 13th in total points (88), fourth all-time in shots (275), eighth in groundballs (179) and 10th in goals (61). For a single season, Mattice holds the mark for best faceoff winning percentage (56.69), winning 182 of his 321 draws in 2012. On the list of 24 players ranked in single-game faceoff percentage, Mattice’s name appears eight times, including the single-game mark of 75.86 (22-29). Mattice was named All-League Honorable Mention three times (2010-12), while also earning All-Sectional plaudits in 2012. He was twice named Victor’s MVP (2009, 2011) while earning a spot on the Nike Shootout Team in 2011. A multi-sport athlete, Mattice was a four-year starter and letterwinner on the gridiron for Geoff Mandile, playing both running back and linebacker. He was named the Most Athletic of his senior class at Victor, and while he was as Bridgton Academy, he won the Sportsmanship Award. During the club season, Mattice played for the Rochester Blaze Lacrosse Club. He plans to major in economics and business at VMI.
Pete McMahon (Zionsville, Ind.) - Playing two sports at University of Detroit Jesuit High School that go hand-in-hand, McMahon lettered one season in lacrosse for Sean Leary, while lettering three times on the hockey team. In high school, he played for a national championship in 2008 and was named first team All-MIHL and second team All-State on the ice. His grandfather player a year of football at the University of Arizona. McMahon plans to major in economics and business at the Institute.
Brad Nardella (Cazenovia, N.Y.) - Lettering three years for Jim Longo at Cazenovia High School, Nardella helped lead his team to a pair of New York State Championships, including one season when he served as captain. He was also a two-year letterwinner on the hockey team as a center, and won four letters on the wrestling mat, taking second at the Section 3 Class B tournament. Nardella played his club ball for the CNY Road Hawks. Off the field, he was an honor student throughout high school. College athletics is a staple for the Nardellas; his father, Andrew, wrestled at Rutgers University while his brother, Joseph, recently concluded his sophomore lacrosse season at Rutgers. Brad plans to major in economics and business at VMI.
Chris Spada (Rivervale, N.J.) - A letterwinner and 2012 graduate of Bergen Catholic, Spada comes to VMI after a stint at Bridgton Academy. In one season, he notched 20 goals with 10 assists and in another season, was named Most Improved Player of his team. Spada played for Tri State Lacrosse and made appearances at Peak 200 All-Star, Champ Camp, and Tri State National. He won’t be the first Spada to play college athletics; his brother Adam, played football at Fordham University while his other brother, Steven, played football at the United States Naval Academy in 2009. Chris plans to major in economics and business at VMI.
Mitch Wilson (Arlington, Va.) - A four-year letterwinner at Orchard Park High School, just outside Buffalo, N.Y., Wilson played as a midfielder and faceoff specialist for Gene Tundo. A force on draws, Wilson went 85 percent his senior season, while also notching 25 goals. Not only was he a standout on the lacrosse field, but he scampered for 1,850 yards and 30 touchdowns on the football field for Tundo as a running back. A matter of consistency, Wilson also wrestled for two seasons under Tundo. Wilson was named Athlete of the Year, played for the Gait Cup All-Star team, named the sectional championship MVP, was named All Western New York for football, named Empire State Cup All-Star and his team was the sectional champion three times. The incoming freshman played for the Buffalo Lacrosse Academy. Wilson joins his brother, Matthew, in the college lacrosse ranks; Matthew plays at Saint Leo University, a Division II program in St. Leo, Fla. Mitch will look to major in English at the Institute.