(Photo: Charlie Ciardullo/Instagram)
Cambridge, Ga., junior faceoff man/midfielder Charlie Ciardullo will be heading west in a few years, as he announced his verbal commitment to play for Bill Tierney and the Denver Pioneers on Monday evening.
He announced his decision via Twitter.
Ciardullo is the second commitment in the class from the state of Georgia and ninth overall, joining Shawnee Mission East, Kan., attackman Cade Eldred, Tabor, Mass., goalie Tim McNamara, and IMG Academy, Fla., attackman Cheyne Repp, Salisbury, Conn., midfielder Aidan Aitken, Salisbury, Conn., attackman Tye Scott, Avon Old Farms, Conn., midfielder Colm Barnett, IMG Academy, Fla., LSM Chris Caldwell, and Lovett, Ga., LSM Russell Overly.
“Denver is an awesome city and their academics are fantastic,” Ciardullo told Lacrosse Bucket. “But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the number one reason I chose Denver was because of their legendary coaching staff of Coach Tierney, Coach Gallant and Coach Brown, and the unbelievable team chemistry among the DU players. I’m really looking forward to earning my stripes and hopefully playing for a National Championship when I’m there.”
Growing up playing football, Ciardullo picked up a lacrosse stick the summer going into his freshman year of high school. After playing both as a freshman, he decided to turn his focus 100% on lacrosse heading into his sophomore season. This past spring he got the starting nod and helped the Bears to a 4-3 record before the 2020 season was cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Peach State native was invited to compete at both the Faceoff Academy National Showcase in 2019 and the Faceoff Academy’s I95 Cup this past summer.
“I know I have a lot of work to do, but I don’t feel like I’ve even come close to my ceiling,” Ciardullo said.
While the NCAA has but an extended dead period in place, which prohibits in-person recruiting and campus visits, Ciardullo said that he has been able to develop a good relationship with the coaching staff. “They treated me like family from the start. They spent a lot of time with me over a Zoom call making sure that I was as informed as I could be about all of Denver’s offerings.”
Ciardullo has been able to make take a trip out to Denver on his own with his family to check out the campus in-person.
Denver has almost become Faceoff U over the past decade with Chase Carraro and Trevor Baptiste, who has coached Ciardullo with the Faceoff Academy, setting records and leading the nation at the position during the 2010s, and Alec Stathakis being one of the top guys in the nation currently.
“I’m so humbled by the opportunity…Denver has such a great history of FO guys,” Ciardullo said. “He (Trevor Baptiste) is one of the reasons I’m committed to DU. Everyone my age looks up to Trevor as the pinnacle of the sport…I know how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to work with Trevor over the past few years and I’m so appreciative of all his guidance and support.”
Over the summer, the NCAA changed their faceoff rules, again, and mandated that beginning in 2021, players will start faceoffs with only their feet, gloves, and sticks touching the ground, aka Standing Neutral Grip (SNG). This change not only impacted college players but also high school players with aspirations to get recruited and play the position at the next level.
Ciardullo noted that it was fairly easy for him to adjust due to him being newer to the sport and not having the same amount of muscle memory with the old knee-down stance as other faceoff guys might have.
In addition to his increasing performance at the faceoff dot, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior stated multiple other areas that he wants to focus on improving before he hits college. “Defensive skills, stick skills, and field awareness are all areas I’m currently working on. There are also intangibles that I continue to work on every week in the gym – getting stronger and getting faster.”
Coming into his junior season, Ciardullo said that he is looking to improve his winning percentages at the faceoff dot, further perfecting the SNG technique, developing more leadership skills, and helping to lead his high school and club team (Thunder LB3) towards more championship opportunities.