The 2020 men’s lacrosse season is just weeks away with games getting underway on February 1st.
While 2020 is the start of a new decade for the sport, it also brings some new changes as well. The shot clock enters year two, the dive takes another turn, and two new teams will be added to the DI ranks from DII: Merrimack and LIU.
And as always, the 2020 season will see teams that come out, seemingly, nowhere and shock the nation. Last year, it was Penn. Which under-the-radar teams may have the ability to make some serious noise in 2020, either in their respective conference or nationally? Here are some under the radar teams that you should keep an eye on as the 2020 season approaches.
The Wildcats went 8-7 and lost to Denver in the Big East semifinals last season. But with all five of their top scorers returning in senior midfielder Connor Kirst, junior attackman Keegan Khan, sophomore midfielder Matt Campbell, junior attackman Cory Mcmanus, and sophomore attackman Patrick Daly, this is a team that has the ability to light up the scoreboard. Additionally, with Penn grad transfer Jared Warner joining the likes of senior Brendan Quigley, Villanova could have arguably one of the best SSDM units in the country. And they also return some quality depth on the back end, including freshman goalie Will Vitton who had a good showing as a freshman starter last season.
Maybe not as under the radar as some other teams on this list, but the Statesmen could be in position to take an even bigger step in 2020 than they did in 2019 – despite losing attackman Chris Aslanian and faceoff man Matthew Pedicine. The offense might look a bit different with Stephen Brundage as the Statesmen’s new OC and senior Eric Holden taking on a bigger role, but they have the talent to be just as electric or more than they were a season ago. While there may be some questions at the faceoff dot and defense, outside of goalie with senior Sam Lucchesi returning, this is a squad that can reach the NEC championship in a year where the conference doesn’t offer too much clarity, especially with their new divisional setup.
Cornell, Penn, and Yale are the obvious top three in the Ivy League this year and, but don’t be surprised if Brown is able to come up with some pretty significant wins and assert themselves as a more serious contender than many would have thought. With an experienced and underrated senior goalie in Phil Goss, all of their top five scorers returning – including senior attackman Luke McCaleb, sophomore attackman Darian Cook- from an offense that ranked 21st in scoring offense and averaged 19.25 points per game last season, this is a team that has a good mix of young and veteran players to help lead them to greater heights. And don’t forget, they were one goal away from the Ivy League championship game last season.
Even the top-tier teams in the MAAC rarely get the respect they deserve. And Marist is certainly in that boat coming into 2020 after winning the MAAC in 2019 and proving everyone wrong. They have a buzzsaw of an offense led by junior attackman Jake Weinman and sophomore attackman JoJo Pirreca, who each put up 41 and 35 points last season. Senior Joe Tierney, who switched to midfield last season, and sophomore Jamison Embury run the show at midfield to add even more offensive firepower. They do have some questions on the back end, but with junior goalie Jack MacGregor and poles Sam Ahlgrim and Tyler Ammirato back they should be able to get that unit gelling pretty quick. Look out for the Foxes in 2020.
The Dragons turned some heads late last season when they upset UMass in the CAA semifinals and gave Towson a run for their money in the CAA championship. Drexel returns some key pieces from last year’s squad, including senior attackmen Matthew Varian and Reid Bowering, senior faceoff man Jimmeh Koita, and goalie Ross Blumenthal who started as a freshman last season. The Dragons also return most of their close defense, as well. With as much talent as they have returning and the CAA looking iffier than ever this season, the Dragons could very well see themselves climb all the way to the top after nearly getting as a sort of “Cinderella” last season.
John Galloway and his Jacksonville Dolphins had a bit of a down year in 2019. But with a good core group of guys returning on both ends, the Dolphins could seriously have a shot at the SoCon title in 2020. With seniors Jack Dolan and Evan Tyler returning at the midfield and sophomore Bo Bowhunter and senior Dwayne Mattushik returning at attack, along with some other younger talent, this offense could be the most electric in the SoCon. And they can be just as good on the back end with senior Hunter Sells in goal and sophomore Jordan Young as one of the top returning poles. They also have a pretty decent SSDM corp to round things out. If they can put all the pieces together, we could very well see 2020 be the year of the Dolphins in the SoCon.