(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Athletics)
As the calendar turns to November it marks the end of fall ball and the beginning of, essentially, the pre-season for NCAA lacrosse. While it is still early and there is only so much you can take from fall ball scrimmages, let’s take a look at who some of the early contenders in each conference are.
The ACC has been called the SEC of college lacrosse for many years now. While the accuracy of that statement may have changed a bit over the past few seasons, the ACC still has some of the best lacrosse in the country and is always full of surprises. Anyone can win every year, but there are a few favorites this early on.
As the Defending nationals champions, the Virginia Cavaliers will have a target on their back all season. Expected to look very similar to last year’s squad, the Cavaliers proved that in their fall scrimmages against Penn State, Canada, and USA.
While Virginia did show their true colors this fall, especially on offense and how they play in the riding game with guys like Ian Laviano and in the middle of the field, they did show some very good quality depth with players like redshirt freshman Peter Cormier turning plenty of heads this fall. In addition, their youth at close defense showed in the fall, especially with Cade Saustad sidelined with an injury. However, LSM Jared Conners looked to be in mid-season form and goalie Alex Rode looked solid, as well.
Virginia may need to iron out some kinks on the defensive end and figure out just how to use some of those young role players, but there is no question that the Cavaliers have a shot at winning the ACC this season and potentially repeating as national champions.
The Duke Blue Devils were named by many as the Team of The Decade for the 2010s. Entering the 2020s, Duke will be looking to keep their success and tradition going strong.
While Duke doesn’t scrimmage in the spring, it hasn’t seemed to impact them too much in the past and with the talent they have coming back they just may be able to make, at least, a final four run in 2020. Leading attackman Joe Robertson is back as a junior and junior Nakeie Montgomery returns as the Blue Devils’ top midfielder.
In addition, they return senior JT Giles-Harris on defense, redshirt senior goalie Turner Uppgren, and also have some very talented freshmen coming in. Surely, it is going to be another successful year for the Blue Devils.
I have called Syracuse the “Champions of The Summer” because of how much they brought in with Chase Scanlan transferring from Loyola and hiring Pat March as their new offensive coordinator. In addition, Tucker Dordevic has returned from injury. The offense is looking good and has the potential to be one of the best in the country.
The worries lay on the defensive end for Syracuse with the graduation of close defenseman Tyson Bomberry. However, defenseman Nick Mellen, SSDM Peter Dearth, and goalie Drake Porter all return to give the Orange defense some continuity.
Syracuse scrimmaged Denver and Lehigh in the fall and by all accounts, the Orange looked sound on offense and struggled on defense. They Orange certainly have plenty of time to improve until the season gets underway in February.