So why include Canada in a site devoted to areas outside lacrosse’s traditional hotbeds? Lacrosse’s Canadian roots are at least as deep, if not considerably deeper, than they are here in the United States.
And for many years, lacrosse—not hockey—was even considered the Great White North’s national sport. (The Canadian Senate and House of Commons would eventually split the difference here, officially proclaiming two national sports, hockey in the winter, and lacrosse in the summer).
It would also be hard to deny Canada’s impact on D1 lacrosse—both in terms of the influx of players, and the influence of the indoor, box lacrosse style that so many of these players have brought with them.
There are 178 Canadians on 2022 D1 college lacrosse rosters.
And Canadian infiltration of D1 lacrosse isn’t something that’s recent.
It goes back to Gary Gait, the British Columbia native considered one of the game’s all-time best players who’s now presiding over one of D1’s most storied programs, Syracuse, and, even further, to Mike French and Cornell teams of the 70’s.
Nor is it something that’s too difficult to pick up on—and not just because of the many maple leaf stickers visible on the backs of helmets in those tight shots of team huddles.
Canada just made its presence felt, for instance, in the 2022 season’s Maryland-Princeton game. Cornell transfer Jonathan Donville had three goals for the top-ranked Terps, and Princeton’s Sam English had four—and that was just in the first half.
But there’s been an interesting twist recently when it comes to imported Canadian lacrosse talent.
It involves what’s become one of the reliable source Canadian talent, and elite D1 lacrosse talent generally.
It’s a Canadian high school that’s increasingly unleashing on D1 lacrosse a very different kind of player.
Canadians and D1 College Lacrosse
There are Canadians in every conference of D1 lacrosse.
Denver, which historically has recruited heavily from Canada, currently has 7.
St. Bonaventure, located 60 miles south of Buffalo, New York and the Canadian border, has 14.
Bellarmine in Kentucky has 6.
Mercer in Georgia has 4.
Stony Brook on Long Island has 6.
Delaware has 6.
Ohio State has 6.
Johns Hopkins has 5.
Robert Morris, located in Pittsburgh, and now a member of the ASUN, has an astounding 16 Canadians on its 2022 roster.
Of those 176, 49 are graduates of The Hill Academy.
And another 12 players are also graduates of Hill Academy, but they’re not Canadian.
So what’s the story with the Hill?
Ontario’s Hill Academy and D1 College Lacrosse
The Hill School is a venerable institution whose alumni include Ken Clausen, a four-time All-American defender at Virginia and a Tewaaraton Award finalist in 2010.
The Hill School also has grads currently playing D1 lacrosse at programs such as Yale, Lehigh, and Colgate.
But it’s not the Hill we’re talking about.
It’s in Pottstown, Pennsylvania and was founded in 1851.
Hill Academy, on the other had, is located in Toronto, and was founded by the Merrill family—in 2006.
The Merrill family had some insight into the D1 lacrosse landscape. After a stint at the Salisbury School in Connecticut, Brodie Merrill had been a First-Team All-American defender at Georgetown, a two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist, and also a two-time gold medalist with the Canadian national team.
He also runs the school’s lacrosse program.
From an initial enrollment of 24 students, the school has grown to about 200. There is a decided sports orientation, especially on hockey and lacrosse. The lacrosse program is among the best in both countries. In both 2018 and 2019, Hill won the Geico Lacrosse Nationals title, a annual tournament studded with the best U.S. high school teams, including Culver Academy, Bullis, IMG Academy, Episcopal, and Georgetown Prep.
It has produced D1 stars such as Cornell’s Jeff Teat and North Carolina’s Chris Cloutier.
To Hill and Back: Richie Connell and Keegan Khan
The steadily emerging twist is the Hill is now attracting more Americans.
Which shouldn’t be that surprising when you think about it.
After all, for years a number of elite Canadian players have gone south to end their high school playing careers. Those players sometimes putting in several seasons, but more often they end up as postgrads, typically, again, at a New England boarding school like Avon Old Farms and Salisbury (which Brodie Merrill himself attended), or at longtime Canadian lacrosse magnet Culver Military Academy in Indiana.
Several players this season, including two of D1’s most prominent transfers, exemplify this northward migration.
Keegan Khan, (a former Villanova player now with Maryland) and Richie Connell, (now with Denver, after transferring from Richmond), are both Hill Academy graduates.
Both players came to Hill from high schools recognized as lacrosse powers: Khan from Delbarton in New Jersey, and Connell from Mullen High School in Denver.
And they’re not alone.
The other current American D1 players who came through the Hill are: Josh Zawada (Michigan), Matteo Corsi (Syracuse), Josh Kirson (Johns Hopkins), Billy Coyle (Cornell), Gerard Kane (Hofstra), James Turco (Lafayette), John Wright (Wagner), John Ludenia (Quinnipiac), Robert Pousak (Manhattan), and Christian Della Rocco (Bellarmine).
Significantly, these players represent areas like Colorado, North Carolina, and Michigan, outside lacrosse’s traditional hotbeds.
Hill Academy Graduates on 2022 D1 Lacrosse Rosters
Mike McCanell, Stony Brook, Ontario
Graydon Hogg, Albany, Ontario
Dyson Williams, Duke, Ontario
Keegan Khan, Maryland/Villanova, Chatham, New Jersey
Zach Young, North Carolina, Ontario
Matt Wright, North Carolina, Ontario
Jerry Staats, Syracuse, Ontario
Matteo Corsi, Syracuse, Plymouth, Michigan
Riley Dellil, Robert Morris, Ontario
Owen Down, Robert Morris, Ontario
Nick Pelletier, Robert Morris, Ontario
Aldan Fearn, Bellarmine, Ontario
Dylan Tulett, Bellarmine, Ontario
Christian Della Rocco, Bellarmine, Westfield, New Jersey
Zack Tower, Cleveland State, Ontario
Carson Moyer, Utah, Ontario
Riley Curtis, Denver, Ontario
Richie Connell, Denver/Richmond, Evergreen, Colorado
Dylan Watson, Georgetown, Ontario
Brendan Boyle, Marquette, Ontario
Josh Kirson, Johns Hopkins, Newton, Massachusetts
Josh Zawada, Michigan, Raleigh, North Carolina
Justin Inacio, Ohio State, Ontario
Mitchell Sandberg, Ohio State, British Columbia
Matt Acchione, Delaware, Ontario
Cam Acchione, Delaware, Ontario
Lucas Snider, Drexel, Ontario
Matt Vilas, Hofstra, Ontario
Gerard Kane, Hofstra, Suwanee, Georgia
Zack Kearney, UMass, Ontario
Coltrane Tyson, UMass, Ontario
Jack Follows, Cornell, Ontario
Henry Follows, Cornell, Ontario
Billy Coyle, Cornell, Malvern, Pennsylvania
Tyler Ford, Dartmouth, Ontario
Holden Deck, Dartmouth, Ontario
Marcus Johnstone, Quinnipiac, Ontario
Matt Di Lella, Quinnipiac, Ontario
John Ludenia, Quinnipiac, Raleigh, North Carolina
Brodie Anderson, St. Bonaventure, Manitoba
Sean Westley, St. Bonaventure, Ontario
Ryan Olan, St. Bonaventure, Ontario
Brett Dobson, St. Bonaventure, Ontario
Blake Lothian, Manhattan, Ontario
Robert Pousak, Manhattan, Northville, Michigan
Michael Billings, Canisius, Ontario
John Wright, Wagner, Keene, New Hampshire
James Turco, Lafayette, Woodbury, New York
Lucas Hucal, Lafayette, Ontario
Caleb Caesar, Lehigh, Ontario
Jake Dawick, Lehigh, Ontario
Teddy Legget, Lehigh, Ontario
Adam Poitras, Loyola, Ontario
Josh Fairey, Loyola, Ontario
Zack Deaken, Jacksonville, Ontario
Curtis Goddard, Jacksonville, Ontario
Bo BowHunter, Jacksonville, Ontario
Ryan Brooks, Mercer, Ontario
Taylor Dooley, Mercer, Ontario
Kobe Handsor, Mercer, Ontario
Jake Saunders, Richmond, Ontario
David Parry is the founder and editor of LaxAcrossAmerica. A New York-based digital marketer and copywriter, he played Division 1 lacrosse as a walk-on at Brown.