(Photo courtesy of UAlbany 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.
In recent history, the America East has been dominated by the Albany Great Danes but over the past few seasons, the conference has increasingly become more wide open. In 2020, Albany will likely be the favorite once again but there are a whole host of teams that could make some noise.
As previously noted, the Great Danes have been the class of the America East for the past five to six years. While 2019 was the Danes’ first losing season in quite some time, they still have plenty of talent coming back in 2020, headlined by the attack duo of junior Tehoka Nanticoke and senior Jakob Patterson. In addition, they add freshman Isaiah Skidders and return some key pieces in defense, including senior goalie Nate Siekierski.
The Danes may not be the team they were in 2017 or 2018, but they certainly have enough talent and chemistry to be able to get back to the America East tournament and possibly win the conference. The one big question mark will once again be their production at the faceoff dot.
In their fall scrimmages against Army, Penn, and Johns Hopkins, the Danes showed much promise with their top guys playing well and a few freshman turning heads, as well, according to multiple reports.
Many might want to write off the Retrievers cinderella ending to the 2019 season as a fluke, but third-year head coach Ryan Moran has this ship heading in the right direction. As a result, the retrievers could be at or near the top of the America East again in 2020 and possibly take over as a consistent contender in the conference.
In 2020, the Retrievers return their entire starting attack line of senior Ryan Frawley, junior Trevor Patschorke, and senior Brett Mcintyre. Those three led the team in scoring last season, combing for 143 points. In addition, they return a good portion of their signature “Killer Bees” defense, including Colin Kasner who ranked 11th in the nation in caused turnovers per game last season and staring goalie Tommy Linger.
The Catamounts- labeled as New England’s sleeping giant by some- have been the second or third best team in the America East over the past few seasons. With Nick Washuta on pace to become the Catamounts’ all-time leader in career saves by the end of his senior season in 2020, Vermont looks poised to take another step in the right direction and challenge for a top spot in the conference once again.
In addition to Washuta, Vermont returns their second and third-leading scorers from a year ago in sophomore attackman David Closterman and senior attackman Ben French. With their returners and their recent track record, especially in conference, the Catamounts will likely have high expectations to live up to once again this season.