(Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics)
The Utah Utes officially became the westernmost DI men’s lacrosse program when they took the field for the first time on February 1st of 2019. During that first season they went 5-10, which included wins over Mercer, Air Force, Furman, Bellarmine, and Detroit Mercy. They also had some close losses, being defeated by Fairfield and Mount St. Mary’s by just one goal.
Brian Holman and his squad set out to improve on that inaugural season in 2021. Utah went 3-3, grabbing wins over Bellarmine, Furman, and Jacksonville before the Coronavirus outbreak cancelled the season. Additionally, they only lost to Air Force and Mount St. Mary’s by one goal and gave Lehigh a run for their money in the first half.
2021 will mark the third season of DI lacrosse in Utah. And while they have certainly shown some significant growth over the first two years, many will be keeping an eye on Salt Lake City to see just how much of a step forward this program can take in year three, especially considering the fact that both Colin Burke Jimmy Perkins, who were their top two point-getters last season, are gone after just one season, and goalie Liam Donnelly has also left the program. Perkins and Donnelly are using an extra year of eligibility at Robert Morris and UAlbany. Defenseman Nick Hapney also transferred out, landing at Syracuse.
Utah was tied with Jacksonville for the 27th-best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 12.83 goals per game, when the 2021 season was cut short. And while the losses of Burke and Perkins means the loss of 52 points, the Utes have plenty of talented guys that can carry that weight this spring, especially younger players who shined last season.
Sophomore midfielder Mac Costin (11G/1A) and senior A/M Josh Stout (5G/7A) are their top two returners on the offensive end. Junior midfielder Branden Wilson (5G/1A) and sophomore attackman Mj McMahon (5G) are two younger guys that got saw quite a bit of clock last season and should be able to contribute even more in 2021.
This younger Utes offense shouldn’t have too much trouble getting those extra possessions, as Cole Brams will be back at the faceoff dot. He came onto the scene strong as a freshman last season and went 78-for-149 (52%) on the season.
On the defensive end, things are a bit of a different story. The Utes, who ranked 28th in scoring defense last season (allowing 11 goals per game) last season, only return two poles with starting experience and have a hole to fill in the cage, as previously mentioned.
Defenseman Samuel Cabere (28GB/10CT) and Dominic Mata (5GB/4CT) look to be two of the leaders on the back end. Cabere was a full-time starter in 2019 and saw action in all six games last season. Mata has seen two career starts over the past two seasons and saw action in all six games last season. In addition to those two top-returning poles, Utah returns their top LSM in Rylan Lemons (8GB/1CT).
In goal, Zion Dechesere and Zack Johns are the most battled-tested returners in cage and look the most likely to get that starting nod. Dechesere saw action in four games last season and posted a 56% save percentage. Johns played in two games and put up a 33% save percentage.