Cassese, Mountain Hawks welcome incoming freshman lacrosse class

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Lehigh head men's lacrosse coach Kevin Cassese has announced the addition of 12 student-athletes to the program. The class of 2018 enters Lehigh this fall looking to mesh with a strong returning core of players as the Mountain Hawks begin their quest for a third Patriot League Championship in the last four years.
The class features players from all over the country (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Florida, and Texas) along with two from Canada. It also features all four positions: from goalie to defense, midfield and attack.

To take an in-depth look at all 12 incomers, please see below.

Nolan Apers • M/A • Oakville, Ontario • Business 
Apers enjoyed a strong high school lacrosse career for The Hill Academy, the same school as Lehigh senior Patrick Corbett. As a rising senior, Apers was ranked #18 in Inside Lacrosse's Canadian power rankings. A team captain, Apers received the "18/45" award in both 2013 and 2014 for work ethic, discipline, dedication, team-first attitude and overall contribution to the team. He garnered the Senior Strength and Conditioning Award in 2013. Apers also competed for the Burlington Chiefs in Junior A Lacrosse. He was chosen for Junior A in his first year of eligibility. Apers went on to post 22 points in 2012 as the Chiefs' Rookie of the Year, 36 points in 2013 and 44 points in 2014. Apers was selected to represent Ontario at the Canadian U-16 Championships in British Columbia, winning a silver medal. He was a starting forward for the Edge and Edge Prep Lacrosse elite showcase team, participating in Canada's Top 100 Prospects camp in 2010 and 2011. Apers was selected to the tournament's All-Star Team both years and was selected to the Gettysberg Gait Cup Tournament All-Star team in 2011. From 2002-2011, Apers competed for Oakville Hawks Lacrosse, being selected as captain by coaches and teammates from 2006-08, and was Under-19 team captain. His squad advanced to the Provincial Box Final Four in 2007 and 2011. Apers led his team to the Ontario Provincial Field Silver Medal. In the classroom, Apers was an Ontario Scholar Award and graduated The Hill Academy with honors. He earned a spot on the Dean's Honor List during his tenure at The Hill Academy and made the Honor Roll at Hamilton District Christian High School from 2009-11.

Lee Belland • M • Dallas, Texas • Business • Watch: Highlight Video
Four-year standout at Dallas Jesuit, Belland was a two-time All-American (as a junior and senior). He was named team captain in 2014, earned All-State recognition and was selected as an Adrenaline All-American. Belland also won Dallas Jesuit's team MVP award as well. A year prior, Belland earned All-State and All-America honors. The team's offensive team MVP, he led the way in goals with 38. Squad finished the season ranked 23rd in the nation. As a sophomore, Belland won All-District laurels and was selected as one of the top three midfielders in the sophomore class in Texas. Belland was named his team's Rookie of the Year as a freshman and was voted Team MVP in freshman football.

Matt Ernst • M/FO • Haverford, Pa. • Business 
A three-year varsity player at Episcopal Academy, Ernst won 73 percent of his faceoffs in the highly competitive Inter-Ac which featured several nationally-ranked teams and eventual Division I college players. Ernst earned several honors in his career including All-Inter-Ac, All-Delco and All-Main Line. A John H. Wynne Jr. Lacrosse Award winner, Ernst was also a Philly Showcase All-Star and Lehigh Valley rising junior All-Star. Ernst was a two-time Dukes Lacrosse Club MVP and competed in Champ Camp and Tri-States. Ernst also played ice hockey, squash and sailing. He impressed in the classroom as an honors student.

JJ Foley • D • Kings Park, N.Y. • Business 
Three-year varsity letterwinner at Smithtown West in New York, Foley was a 2014 All-County defenseman and member of Long Island Newsday's top 100 lacrosse players. He was a member of the 2013 Under Armour All-America Underclassmen Team for Long Island. Foley was named a 2012 Maverick Showtime All-Star and earned a spot on the Empire State Cup All-Tournament Team. A two-year football starter at defensive end/tight end, Foley was a 2014 All-League honoree. He received the White Letter Award for the highest GPA on Smithtown West's football team. Foley garnered his high school's New York State Zone Award for outstanding leadership and excellence in academic/physical education. Foley also served as president of Athletes Helping Athletes.

Bo Lori • A/M • Hudson, Ohio • Arts and Sciences • Watch: Highlight Video
The 2014 Male Athlete of the Year for Hudson High School, Lori enjoyed a stellar high school career as a two-time US Lacrosse All-American. He was also a two-time first team All-State honoree. Lori received the Adam Hamilton Award as NOSLCA Player of the Year and was named the Cleveland Plain Dealer (and Player of the Year. Lori was team captain and the team's Offensive MVP as well. As a junior, Lori was Ohio Attackman and Player of the Year. He set a school record for points in a season with 121 (previous record was 104 set in 2006). He was named an Under Armour Underclass Midwest All-American and team Offensive MVP. As a sophomore, Lori earned first team All-Region, second team All-State and Brine All-American (Ohio). He led Hudson High School in scoring. Lori enjoyed success from day one, earning Rookie of the Year honors and Brine All-America recognition as a freshman. Hudson High School won the Division I State Championship. Also a standout hockey player, Lori garnered the Ray "Buck" Hyser Award, his high school's most prestigious award which honored outstanding character, leadership and citizenship. He was a Don Friedman award winner, Player of the Year for Greater Cleveland High School Hockey, member of the All-State Team, first team All-Division and first team All-League. Lori was a Cleveland Plain Dealer All-Star and was selected for the Cleveland Senior All-Star Game. He led the league in scoring during his tenure, setting a team all-time record with 200 career points (previous record was 194 set in 2005). Lori was a two-time hockey captain and Offensive MVP. Also strong in the classroom, he posted a stellar 3.92 GPA as a member of the National Honor Society. He put together the HHS Business Plan of the Year (2013-14). Lori earned several honors in the community as a 2013 Volunteer of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland and garnered a National Award of Service. He was a Sports Ministry out of Christ Community Chapel volunteer, represented his high school in Fuel Up To Play60 and was a YoungLife high school ministries participant.

Nathan McKenzie • D • Guelph, Ontario • Arts and Sciences • Watch: Highlight Video
The second Canadian in the incoming class (along with Nolan Apers), McKenzie played varsity lacrosse at Brewster Academy from 2002-14. He was a three-time Northern New England first team All-Star as Brewster Academy won the Northern New England Championship each year. McKenzie was a member of the UA New England team in 2013. He played two years of Junior 'A' Box Lacrosse as a member of the Toronto Beaches, winning the Bantam Provincial Division 'A' Box Lacrosse Championship. McKenzie was a Canadian National Champion as an underage player for Team Ontario. He was team captain of Edge Lacrosse's Rising Sophomore Team. McKenzie was invited to attend Maverik Showtime showcase as a sophomore at Brewster Academy and earned All-Star selections at the Philly Showcase, Adrenaline All-Canada Games and Reebok Top 100. He played AAA hockey growing up and was team captain of the Minor Bantam AAA hockey team. Impressive off the field, McKenzie was a student mentor and attended leadership camp at Brewster Academy. He twice received the Suma Cum Laude Award and went on to graduate Brewster with honors. McKenzie was selected by faculty as a math tutor center helper in 2011. In eighth grade, he earned awards in sciences technologies, drama and physical education. McKenzie was an honors student throughout high school. He volunteered at Guelph Humane Society, participated in Relay for Life in an effort to raise money for cancer research and helped build a haunted house with proceeds helping the homeless in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

John Mehok • A • West Chester, Pa. • Arts and Sciences • Watch: Highlight Video
Mehok was a four-year varsity starter for coach Jon Heisman at Bishop Shanahan High School. A US Lacrosse All-American and two-time team captain, Mehok finished among Bishop Shanahan's all-time leaders with 170 career goals and 94 assists. A four-time All-Ches-Mont League honoree, he finished his career by earning first team laurels as a senior. He also garnered first team All-Area, Pennsylvania All-State and All-American recognition. Mehok led his squad to an 18-3 record and its first league championship and state playoff berth in school history. He received the Jack Mancini Award for the best athlete in one sport. Mehok was among Inside Lacrosse's "10 who impressed" at Paul Rabil's Project 9.9. Mehok also received an invitation to Nike Blue Chip. He was honored for "raising the standards" at Bishop Shanahan High School. Mehok also impressed in the classroom as an honor roll student.

Danny Norris • D • Lincoln University, Pa. • Engineering • Watch: Highlight Video
Out of Avon Grove High School in West Grove, Pennsylvania, Norris enjoyed a stellar high school career, highlighted by a senior season which saw him earn US Lacrosse All-America recognition. He was also named first team All-State, first team All-Ches-Mont League, first team All-Philly Lacrosse, Daily News first team All-Area and Philadelphia Inquirer second team All-Area. A 2014 team captain, Norris was also named team MVP by his head coach. Avon Grove won the District I Championship and finished as state runners-up. As a junior, Norris earned first team All-Ches-Mont League, second team All-Area and team MVP as he led Avon Grove to its first-ever state playoff berth. His team won the Ches-Mont League and District I Championship as the winningest team in school history. Norris was a member of Duke's Lacrosse Club and won the Tri-State Championship and National Championship. A year earlier as a sophomore, Norris earned Avon Grove's Most Improved Player award along with second team All-Ches-Mont League recognition. Impressive in the classroom, Norris graduated with a 4.322 cumulative GPA in the top five percent of his graduating class. Ranked 21st in a class of 427 students, he received distinguished honors (for a GPA above 4.0) all four years. Norris received the United States Army Reserve National Scholar-Athlete Award and was awarded as the 2014 Avon Grove High School Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was the first-place winner of the 2014 Pansini-Mezrow Scholar-Athlete Scholarship after winning second place in 2013.

Brandon Plante • A • Frederick, Md. • Arts and Sciences • Watch: Highlight Video
A dual sport athlete, Plante enjoyed an All-American lacrosse career at Urbana High School in Maryland. He earned first team All-League and All-County on two occasions while being named Frederick County Player of the Year, a Kelly Award Finalist and Maryland All-Star Game selection. Plante was also chosen for the Maryland Free State top 22 team and was named a Top 205 All-Star, team captain as a senior and team MVP. He posted 59 goals and 30 assists his senior year, finishing his high school career with 136 goals and 83 assists. Plante led Urbana to the 3a/4a West Regional Championship. Plante was also a two-time first team All-League and honorable mention All-State selection football player. He was named a Baltimore Touchdown Club All-Star and the team's Defensive MVP. Plante also competed for the wrestling team as a freshman, garnering first team All-County and All-League. He was a Frederick County Champion, regional champion and state semifinalist. Plante garnered the Frederick County Outstanding Wrestler Award as well. Strong in the classroom, Plante was a member of the National Honors Society, earning a spot on the honor roll all four years and graduating with high honors. He was a four-year Mind in Motion Award winner.

Steven Sanczyk • D • Kinnelon, N.J. • Arts and Sciences • Watch: Highlight Video 
A three-year varsity lacrosse starter and senior captain at Seton Hall Prep, Sanczyk earned first team All-Conference and second team All-State during his high school career. Selected for the Fitch-Pitt All-Star Game, Sanczyk racked up 75 career groundballs and five career goals (35 groundballs and three goals as a senior). He received the Joseph F. Walsh Award for team spirit and also garnered the Coaches Award for leading with words and examples. Sanczyk helped Seton Hall Prep win back-to-back Essex County Championships as a junior and senior. His squad was Non-Public A State Finalists his junior year. Sanczyk also won a varsity letter in football as a sophomore. He was an honor roll student in the classroom.

Adam Sawicki • G • Winter Park, Fla. • Business • Watch: Highlight Video 
Sawicki was a freshman starter for Bishop Moore High School, earning the team's Rookie of the Year award and being named third team All-Central Florida. As a sophomore, he was named Bishop Moore's Defensive Player of the Year and earned second team All-Central Florida honors. Sawicki transferred to Lake Highland Prep for his junior season and went on to start for the back-to-back state champion Highlanders. He was a two-time captain and first team All-Central Florida honoree, garnering US Lacrosse All-America laurels as a senior. Sawicki tallied 776 saves over his four-year high school career. He impressed in the classroom with a 4.43 weighted GPA, earning Dean's List five times and graduating Cum Laude.

Brady Thompson • M • Bowie, Md. • Business 
Thompson was a four-year varsity starting midfielder at DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. He was also a three-time WCAC League All-Star, two-time team captain, team MVP and Tony Pekar Award winner. Thompson played club lacrosse for Blackwolf, winning the 2011 Brine Shootout. Thompson impressed in the classroom, making the honor roll every period for four straight years and graduating with highest honors and a 3.92 GPA. He also earned the Honors Latin II award as a sophomore and the American Classical League Summa Cum Laude Latin Award his freshman year.

Lehigh Men's Lacrosse Incoming Class

No. – Name Pos. Ht./Wt. Hometown/Previous School Major/College
45 - Nolan Apers M/A 6-0/195 Oakville, Ontario/The Hill Academy Business
27 - Lee Belland M 6-1/200 Dallas, Texas/Dallas Jesuit Business
24 - Matt Ernst M/FO 5-9/175 Haverford, Pa./Episcopal Academy Business
36 - JJ Foley D 6-3/210 Kings Park, N.Y./Smithtown West Business
55 - Bo Lori A/M 6-1/185 Hudson, Ohio/Hudson High School Arts and Sciences
14 - Nathan McKenzie D 6-0/200 Guelph, Ontario/Brewster Academy Arts and Sciences
25 - John Mehok A 6-0/180 West Chester, Pa./Bishop Shanahan Arts and Sciences
33 - Danny Norris D 5-11/175 Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove Engineering
88 - Brandon Plante A 5-8/170 Frederick, Md./Urbana Arts and Sciences
38 - Steven Sanczyk D 6-0/190 Kinnelon, N.J./Seton Hall Prep Arts and Sciences
18 - Adam Sawicki G 5-9/170 Winter Park, Fla./Lake Highland Prep Business
21 - Brady Thompson M 5-10/185 Bowie, Md./DeMatha Catholic Business
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