(Photo Courtesy of Yale 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.
Ivy League lacrosse is back. Yale has made two consecutive trips to championship weekend, including a national championship run in 2018. Penn stepped up last season and made it interesting, giving the Bulldogs a run for their money in maybe the best series we’ve seen between two teams in quite some time. Again, 2020 should be a fun filled year in the Ancient Eight (seven).
The Elis have been the most dominant team in the Ivy League as of late, winning three of the last five Ivy League conference championships and five total in the past decade. Yale has also been to each of the last five NCAA tournaments, including a championship run in 2018 and championship game appearance in 2019.
While Yale does lose some core pieces from last season, most notably midfielder Jack Tigh and Joey Sessa, but the amount of talent they return far outweighs their losses. The Elis return all three starting attackmen and top three scorers in seniors Matt Gaudet and Jackson Morrill, and sophomore Matt Brandau. Additionally, they return junior goalie Jack Starr, senior defenseman Will Weitzel, and junior defenseman Chris Fake. Oh yeah, and with TD Ierlan at the faceoff dot Yale is practically unstoppable at times. It is going to be a good year in New Haven once again.
Last season, Penn surprised many with their seemingly magical run as they won the Ivy League and made it to the NCAA quarterfinals where they were knocked out by Yale in their matchup of the year against the Elis after beating them in the regular season and the Ivy League championship game.
Penn does lose quite a bit with the graduation of attackman Simon Mathias, goalie Reed Junkin, midfielder Tyler Dunn, and others. But all reports out of fall point to the Quakers being serious contenders once again in 2020. The Quakers return a whole host of offensive firepower with sophomore attackman Sam Handley, senior attackman Adam Goldener, and sophomore attackman Sean Lulley who just may be the x-factor to that unit. In addition, faceoff man Kyle Gallagher is back and they bring in Virginia goalie transfer Patrick Burkinshaw. The Quakers may not look exactly the same as last season, but they will surely be a force to be reckoned with for sure.
After a 10-5 season last year and missing out on the NCAA tournament the Cornell Big Red are looking to rebound and get back to where they belong, playing in late May. Jeff Teat is hands down the best player on this squad and with his life-long teammate Clarke Petterson having graduated it looks like we will see more Teat-John Piatelli and Teat-Jonathan Donville sets this year. Also, they have some other young guys that have the ability to take the next step this season and contribute heavily.
Of course, Cornell will also need to produce on the defensive side of the ball, as well, if they want to be successful. The Big Red weren’t the greatest defense last season, but with sophomore goalie Chayse Ierlan a year under his belt and the defense as a whole being more experienced, there should be plenty of improvement on the back end. And they also need to be more consistent at the faceoff dot. That unit hurt them plenty at times last season.