(Photo Courtesy of Jacksonville 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.
Over the past few seasons the SoCon has continued to get better and more competitive on a national scale. Last season, it was High Point and Richmond that dominated but 2020 could be different. That’s just the SoCon. But looking at the conference this early on, it does appear that either one or two of High Point or Richmond will be contenders, along with Jacksonville.
Back-to-back SoCon champs, the Richmond Spiders look to make it three straight in 2020. The leading scorer Ryan Lanchbury and third-leading scorer Mitch Savoca from last season. Both will be juniors and likely take even bigger leadership roles in 2020. Outside of those two weapons, the Spiders have a whole host of “role players” that look to step up more in 2020 and help carry this offense in the wake of Teddy Hatfield and Ryan Lee graduating. While their offense looks to be exciting, once again, the Spiders defense returns a ton of pieces, starting with junior goalie and Richmond native Jack Rusbuldt and senior defenseman/LSM Sean Menges.
The Spiders may have lost a bit from last season, especially on the offensive end, but they certainly return enough talent all around to repeat as SoCon champions and make it a three-peat.
The Panthers were the talk of the nation last year after knocking off Duke and Virginia in back-to-back weeks. Unfortunately, they shot themselves in the foot too many times and missed out on the NCAA tournament. After losing attackman Chris Young and goalie Tim Troutner Jr. to graduation the future may not look as bright as it once had for High Point. However, Asher Nolting will be leading this team as a junior. His sheer size and skill makes him, hands down, the best player in the conference and whether he can carry this team on his own is yet to be seen. Additionally, Ben Baker, Koby Russell, and other return on the offensive end, as well. The key for this High Point team will be how in sync their defense can be and how effective Sampere Davis can be at the faceoff dot.
With a bit of a younger squad in 2019, the Dolphins had a down year. However, John Galloway and his squad look poised to rebound in 2020 and get back to where they were in 2018 – in the SoCon championship game. With Jack Dolan, Evan Tyler, and Bo Bowhunter as their top three scorers this Dolphin offense is in good hands. Additionally, Hunter Sells returns in cage for his senior year, and they return a youthful defense in front of the net with sophomore Jordan Young, junior Dixon Smith, and others. This is a Dolphins team that may have underperformed last season, but they can certainly be the overachievers in the SoCon in 2020.