Two weeks ago, the Philadelphia Wings participated in the 2021 NLL Entry Draft. Six new players were selected to embark on their NLL career with the Wings:
- Hunter Lemieux; Roberts Wesleyan
- Koby Smith; Towson
- Matt Moore; Virginia
- John Gagliardi; The Hill Academy
- Sean Quinn; Drexel
- Jack Farrel; Drexel
Originally, Philadelphia had the tenth overall pick in the first round. They traded that pick to the Calgary Roughnecks for the fifteenth overall pick and a second-round pick next year. The Wings were able to afford to drop back five spots in the first round. They were not thoroughly depleted in the expansion draft, losing Liam Byrnes. Paul Day made sure to compensate with a defensive draft class.
Half of the draft class comes from a top twenty NCAA program. Virginia and Drexel were within the top fifteen of the nation. Philadelphia secured a few late-round gems.
Let’s take a deeper look into the 2021 Wings draft class:
Back in June, I had my eye on Adam Charalambides in the first round. He was a top ten prospect, and the Philadelphia Wings were within range. The target was not far off from the truth. While Charalambides went fourth overall to the Vancouver Warriors, the Wings took a different forward. With the fifteenth overall pick, Philadelphia chose Lemieux.§§
In 2018, Lemieux had his best comprehensive season as a freshman at Roberts Wesleyan. Through fifteen games, he notched 48pts (39G, 9A) and recovered 27 ground balls. Then, in a shortened seven-game season, Lemieux was well on his way to eclipse his 2018 performance with 31pts (23G, 8A) and 17 ground balls. The Wings selected Lemieux while his stock was booming.
Paul Day made Roberts Wesleyan history with Lemieux. He was the first player to be drafted into the NLL from his college.
Lemieux crossed the border, playing in Canada to build his lacrosse portfolio. That was a must for Lemieux, who did not have a lacrosse program in high school. Everything that caught Philadelphia’s attention came from cutting his teeth at a smaller college.
Formerly, Brett Hickey and Alex Crepinsek coached Lemieux.
Since his rookie season at Towson, Smith has been making fools of stubborn competition. As a long-stick midfielder, he was an asset at the wing on faceoffs. He took the Pride out of Hofstra, causing thirteen turnovers, on the way to his CAA-All Rookie honor.
Following his rookie season, Smith moved toward the cage as a close defenseman. He was the only sophomore to earn CAA First Team honors. It is too easy to see why the Philadelphia Wings liked him in the third round. Smith will make a smooth change to a transition role, hopefully making up for Liam Byrnes’ departure.
During his final two seasons at Towson, Smith was a co-captain. Leadership, at any level, is appreciated. Now, Smith steps into a Wings locker room filled with former college captains. Making the intelligent play at the professional level will help his cause. His field vision helped Towson to an 85% clear rate.
Paul Day noted Smith and his physical game, as well as his previous box lacrosse experience. At the same time, he spoke highly of his two late-round draft picks:
“We addressed the need for some depth in the future at defense by drafting Koby Smith, Sean Quinn, and Jack Farrell. They all have some box experience and are all American players that are athletically skilled. Their physical game will translate well to the box game.”Paul Day; 8/30/2021
The only problem about Smith is that his favorite sports team is the New York Giants.
He was a champion in high school and ran that accomplishment back in college. Named to the All-Tournament Team in 2021, it was no surprise the Philadelphia Wings were eager to get Moore in the third round.
Slipping to the fourth round was a shock. Paul Day had his finger on the pulse once again, selecting the Delco native. If he helps win an NLL championship, the Pennsylvanian can say he peaked at three distinguished levels of lacrosse.
Moore cites a comeback victory against Syracuse as a turning point in his championship season at Virginia. He has a stellar compete level, like most of his teammates. On the Wings, that becomes magnified. Moore is a player who produces under pressure against world-class opponents.
“Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and kind of realize that we’re around someone that’s pretty special.”Sean Kirwan; 2/27/2021
Moore scored a particular goal against Loyola, generating a little buzz. Sean Kirwan was numb to it. A fadeaway blast past the goaltender was nothing new. Normalizing phenomenal goals in Philadelphia means Moore should have our attention. The Wings will be awaiting the moment he pops the bench, including coach Day.
Gagliardi, taken in the fourth round, took a similar approach to Hunter Lemieux. He played at a smaller school, really having to carve his path to the NLL.
If you look up The Hill Academy, they are a school for independent-student athletes. Then, when you look at Gagliardi’s effort to make noise, you will find he played in the Ontario Junior Lacrosse League. Comparably, he presents a glaring question mark of the 2021 Philadelphia Wings draft class.
One part of his game is undisputed. Gagliardi has untapped potential at the faceoff dot. He won 78.9% of his faceoffs in 2019 with the Oakville Buzz. Unfortunately, he only played three games that season.
Something that stands out from any lack of statistics is his laser focus and downright determination. That is passion and grit. Philadelphia loves an underdog from the underground, scrapping for his playing time. If he is willing to put in the work, then Gagliardi has a role on the Wings. Gagliardi is on the right team with the right coach to extract his full potential.
Suddenly, there is a story worth reading (like his personal statement.)
The first of two Drexel players taken, Quinn was selected in the fifth round. From Summit, NJ, Quinn is the fourth player taken from the Tri-State and Delmarva area. Paul Day and the Philadelphia Wings kept tabs on local products while keeping keen on particular hotbeds.
Quinn set his game-high in force turnovers (5) during his sophomore year against Jacksonville, then matched during his junior campaign against Robert Morris. Again, during his junior season, Quinn set his game-high in ground ball recoveries against Saint Joseph’s.
Matt Moore and Quinn are two of three draft selections coming off championship seasons in the NCAA:
Rounding out the duo of Drexel players selected, Farrell moved off the board in the sixth round. Yes, Paul Day did the Drexel double dip. In the process of doing so, half of the Philadelphia Wings 2021 NLL draft class are reigning NCAA champions.
Farrell was Second Team All-CAA, while Sean Quinn earned First Team honors. He also shared the same field with another Wings draft pick. When Farrell played at Haverford High School, competing against Matt Moore at Garnet Valley. For those counting at home, Delco has two NCAA champions playing lacrosse in Philadelphia.
Against Notre Dame in his junior campaign, he set his game-high in forced turnovers (2) before matching that amount in his senior year versus Marquette. Again, in his junior year, Farrell set his game-high in ground balls (4) against Villanova, a team he performed well against.
Coach Day is using his territory to his advantage, plucking quality champions from a nearby hotbed.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre