(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)
The college lacrosse offseason is far from over, but as August quickly approaches more players are finding homes and the majority of the “big name” players are already off the board.
While there will still be a number of roster changes that take place before fall ball gets underway, and plenty more before the start of the 2022 season, here’s a look at some of the programs that have been the winners of the NCAA Transfer Portal thus far.
The Scarlet Knights crushed it in the portal last season and benefited greatly. The play of Connor Kirst on the offensive end and Colin Kirst in cage was, without question, a big part of their NCAA Quarterfinals run during the 2021 season. This summer has marked another where Brian Brecht and the Scarlet Knights have reeled in some potential game-changers – all of whom are grad transfers.
Former North Carolina attackman Brian Cameron, Penn midfielder Mitch Bartolo, and former Wesleyan (DIII) attackman Ronan Jacoby, who will have to adjust to the DI game, can’t replace the 165 points that Rutgers graduates on offense. However, the trio of graduate transfers brings experience, as well as talent, that can certainly soften the blow. Bryant Boswell, who comes in from Bucknell, and Salisbury (DIII) transfer Brad Apgar are two poles that can add to a close defense unit that doesn’t lose much while Toby Burgdorf, a Providence transfer, can step in and be a day one starter in between the pipes. Lastly, Mount St. Mary’s transfer Sam Stephan can help bring more consistency to the faceoff dot, which is a spot that Rutgers hasn’t been the best at over the past few seasons.
As usual, the Terrapins have seen multiple reserves enter the portal and leave this offseason. And while their haul from the portal may not be as large as other teams across the landscape, the amount of talent that John Tillman and his staff bring in makes the NCAA champion runner-up one of the clear-cut winners of the portal.
Keegan Khan was a four-year starter at Villanova and can be an impact player the second he steps foot in College Park, especially with the graduation of Tewaaraton winner Jared Bernhardt. Former Johns Hopkins attackman Owen Murphy was a bright spot for the Blue Jays in 2020, and after a year off rejoins forces with his former offensive coordinator Bobby Benson in College Park, where he should be able to replicate that success. Former Cornell midfielder Jonathan Donville has the potential to do much of the same at the midfield position. Gavin Tygh didn’t see a ton of action at Virginia, but he was a highly-touted player out of high school and has shown that he can make an impact at the college level. Pairing him with Luke Wierman could create a solid one-two punch at the dot. Defensively, the addition of Villanova transfer Owen Prybylski only adds to an already deep and talent unit on the back end.
The Fighting Irish dove into the portal heavily last season and grabbed some real game-changers that helped them in their NCAA Quarterfinal run, where they came within a goal of making a trip to Championship Weekend. Notre Dame did their work in the portal very early this year, grabbing four grad transfers that can come in and have the potential to fill holes on day one.
Former Richmond defenseman Jason Reynolds started in every single game (52) of his career with the Spiders and was a three-time All-Conference selection. Reynolds can fit right into that Irish defense, especially with the loss of Jack Kielty and Kyle Thorton. Much of the same can be said for LSM Matt Douglas, who comes to South Bend from Lehigh. Former Bucknell midfielder Matt Fedorjaka and Colgate attack/midfield transfer Mike Hawkins both have the potential to be solid contributors in an offense that returns a good bit of talented at the top from a year ago.
No program has been a better example of using the portal to address immediate needs quite like the Buckeyes have been this offseason. Ohio State did take a significant hit losing Grant Mitchell to Duke, but they have added pieces at every spot where they needed an influx of talent.
Jason Knox, a Hobart transfer, has proven to be an elite goal-scorer and can be an instant impact player on an offense that loses some big pieces from last year. Similarly, Knox’s former teammate Drew Blanchard comes in and will be able to compete for the starting job at the faceoff dot with the loss of Justin Inacio. Former North Carolina goalie Caton Johnson is the Buckeyes’ biggest get. Starting 13 games during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Johnson has proven himself at a high level and could be the Buckeyes’ starter in cage the second he steps foot in Columbus. Defenseman Noah Mendoza comes to Ohio State after a stellar freshman season at Lafayette where he started all 11 games and was a major factor on a very young team. He should, at least, compete for a starting job at close defense this season with the Buckeyes.
The Wildcats lost quite a bit of talent in the portal with multiple key players grad transferring elsewhere. However, Coach Corrado and Villanova have grabbed a solid transfer portal haul themselves that can help soften the blow of some of their losses.
Former Franklin & Marshall (DIII) attackman Luke Keating, Duke attackman JP Basile, and Johns Hopkins midfielder Brett Baskin can all step in and make an impact on the Wildcats’ offense. Additionally, they have added former Monmouth defenseman Chris Hervada who was part of one of the nation’s top defenses last season and could very well be a day one starter for a Villanova program that has had some very talented defensive players over the past few seasons.