(Photo Courtesy of Penn State Athletics)
The 2020 season is just a few days away with games officially getting underway on February 1st. And if 2020 is anything like 2019, we are in for a wild ride.
As college lacrosse fans anxiously wait for Saturday, here are five predictions for the upcoming season.
1. The Year of Penn State
Last season, the Penn State Nittany Lions garnered national attention with their electric offense and historic run to the NCAA semifinals. The Nittany Lions return almost everyone from last year’s squad, including their starting attack line of Grant Ament, Mac O’Keefe, and Dylan Foulds in addition to faceoff man Gerard Arceri and goalie Colby Kneese.
Not only will Penn State hoist a Big Ten Championship trophy in 2020 but they will also hoist an NCAA Championship trophy, as well. Additionally, the Nittany Lions will see some individual players take home some hardware, as well. Grant Ament is likely already above the rest when it comes to Tewaaraton Award odds, and who knows, maybe Matt O’Keefe could be standing on that stage as a finalist, as well.
2. The SoCon Wins an NCAA Tournament Game
The Atlantic Sun (A-Sun) sponsored men’s lacrosse in 2014 before the A-Sun and Southern Conference (SoCon) announced a partnership to play the sport under the SoCon. Going back to that 2014 season, no team in the SoCon has ever won an NCAA tournament game. But that could all change in 2020.
The conference has been building and getting better each year, with 2019 arguably being their best. Last season, Richmond and High Point upsetting multiple ACC powers last season and Richmond only losing by one to Duke first round of the NCAA tournament. After seeing success last season, the SoCon looks to be ready to take the next step in 2020.
3. Syracuse Makes a Championship Weekend Push
The Syracuse Orange haven’t made it to Championship Weekend since 2013 and has lost in the first round each of the past two seasons. However, the script is expected to flip for Syracuse in 2020.
Over the summer, Syracuse brought in transfer Chase Scanlan from Loyola and hired former Princeton offensive coordinator Pat March in the same position. Also, midfielder Tucker Dordevic comes back from injury this year and Drake Porter in goal and Nick Mellen at close defense. With all the hype surrounding them, the Orange appears to be one of the most promising teams in 2020 and could make a push for Championship Weekend.
4. A Defenseman Gets Names a Tewaaraton Finalist
On the men’s side, no defenseman has been named a Tewaaraton finalist since 2016 when Notre Dame’s Matt Landis stood on the stage alongside eventual winner Dylan Molloy, Connor Cannizzaro, Myles Jones, and Ben Reeves. And he was the first defensive finalist since Loyola’s Joe Fletcher in 2014.
But could a defenseman really be named a Tewaaraton finalist in 2020, especially after the award has become increasingly more of a best attackman award? Yes, it could. The 2020 season features multiple defensemen that could stand on that stage at the end of the year, including Duke’s JT Giles-Harris and Towson’s Koby Smith.
5. More Records Get Broken in Year Two of The Shot Clock
The 80-second shot clock came into college lacrosse last season. And as a result, more shots were taken and more goals were scored. Thus, tearing down some records that had stood for some time. In the second year of the shot clock, it’s no longer a commodity that teams are trying to adjust to and use differently as the season progresses. The shot clock is just a reality of the modern game. Because of that, we could see more records get shattered in 2020.
In 2019, Penn State’s Grant Ament recorded 96 assists, shattering the single-season assists record of 77, which was previously held by Albany’s Lyle Thompson (2014) and UMBC’s Steve Marohl (1992). Ament also came within two points of tying Thompson’s single-season scoring record of 128 points, which he also set in 2014. Penn State’s Mac O’Keefe scored 78 points last season, cementing himself in third place all-time for goals in a season. Yale’s Jon Reese (1990) and Miles Thompson (2014) are tied for first with 82 goals in a single-season. We also saw some of the highest-scoring games in the history of the sport, as well.