(Photo Courtesy of Siena Athletics)
The college lacrosse season is just a few months away, and while it will be a bit longer than usual before everyone gets underway and the season as a whole may look different, at least in the beginning, due to the impact the Coronavirus has had on sports, there will still be teams that seemingly come out of nowhere and surprise within their respective conference or on the national level.
Here is a dive into some of the under-the-radar teams that you should keep your eye on as we head into the 2021 season:
The Detroit Mercy Titans have been on the verge of peaking in the MAAC for multiple years now. They fell as the No. 1 seed in the MAAC title game in 2018 and in the MAAC semifinals as the No. 3 seed in 2019. Coming into 2021, the Titans might not be the most talented team in the MAAC, pound for pound, but they certainly have the talent to possibly contend for a conference title once again. The Titans return three impact players for a fifth season in faceoff man Alex Jarzembowski (60%) and defensemen Alex Akins and Sam McClain. Logan Shamblin, who is a three-year starter and 2019 MAAC Defensive Player of The Year, will return in between the pipes. Additionally, their top two point-getters in Brett Erskine (10G/8A) and Kyle Walters (11G/5A) will both be back and look to lead the way on the offensive end once again.
The Dragons turned some heads late in 2019 when they upset UMass in the CAA semifinals and gave Towson a run for their money in the CAA championship, and looked solid during the shortened 2020 season. While the CAA will be a very tough conference this spring, Drexel has the talent and experience to possibly make a run. Most of that talent comes from fifth-year seniors. Attackmen Matthew Varian (7G/19A) and Reid Bowering (20G/3A), and midfielder Colin Mailman (12G/2A) will be back to lead the way on the offensive end. Senior faceoff man Jimmeh Koita (46%) also returns for a fifth season and looks to be one of the best at the position in the CAA again this season. Goalie Ross Blumenthal (47%) returns after solid freshman and sophomore campaigns.
Since Liam Gleasson’s arrival in Loudonville ahead of the 2019 season, the Siena Saints have enjoyed an offenses resurgence. That resurgence on the offensive end of the field has lead to some belief that the wheels are clearly in motion for this program to rise up. 2021 could very well mark that rise. The Saints will return all five of their top scorers from last season, including midfielder Dylan Pantalone (10G/6A) for a fifth season. Senior attackman Jack Kiernan (16G/13A), who has been one of their most electric players for the past few seasons, will also be back and the two look to be the face of the franchise once again. While they will have to step it up on the back end, where Senior defenseman Braedon LeBar (17GB/6CT) is their top returning pole and biggest impact returnee, there is certainly some positive energy around this programs that suggest they could churn out a very solid season.
I’ve been higher than most on LIU since last season’s end. Coming into their second season as a DI program there is still a lot to be proven for the Sharks. But if the flashes this team showed last season are any sign of what is to come, this program could make a decent splash in 2021, at least within the NEC. Will Mark, who led the nation in saves per game (15.29) returns as the starer in between the pipes after a very solid freshman campaign and should be even better as a sophomore. They also return their top five scorers from a year ago, including their top two attackmen in sophomore Richie LaCalandra (11G/17A) senior Will Snelders (13G/10A).