(Photo Courtesy of Brown Athletics)
The Brown Bears haven’t played much lacrosse as of late. They put up a 3-2 record, which included an upset win over Virginia, during the shortened 2020 season. The Ivy League cancelled the 2021 season, but Brown was one of the lucky Ivies as they were able to get a game in, beating Boston U. 12-5 on a Friday night in late April.
Like the rest of their Ivy League foes, Brown comes into the 2022 season with a lot of questions having not played very much lacrosse at all, if any, since the 2020 season was shut down in March. But for Mike Daly and company, the questions may be a bit more numerous.
Since Daly’s hiring ahead of the 2017 season, the Bears have only had one (full) winning season (2017). Brown has made the Ivy League Tournament during two of the full seasons Daly has been at the helm (2017, 2019). They fell to eventual Ivy League champion Penn in the semifinals in 2019 and to Yale in the title game in 2017.
In the eyes of many, 2022 is a big test for Daly and this Brown program. While it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows since his hiring, there has been success and steady improvement in Providence. And while the Bears do lose some of that top-end talent that helped them keep within arms reach of an Ivy League title (goalie Phil Goss and attackman Luke McCaleb), this is still a talented team that could very well make some noise.
This year’s Brown team will look different in many respects with new, younger talent likely to emerge. But If Daly and this coaching staff can fit the puzzle pieces that is veteran returnees and younger, raw talent together correctly, the ceiling looks to be pretty high for Brown lacrosse not only in 2022 but down the road as well with as much talent as they are set to retain and bring in over the next few years.
Offensively, losing McCaleb is a big blow to this offense. He ended every game of his career from 2017-2021 and put up a career total of 100 goals and 75 assists (175 points). And while his departure certainly leaves a hole at the attack spot, this offense still features enough talent to keep humming at the rate they’ve been doing the past few seasons.
Midfielders Ryan Aughavin and George Grell will be the elder statesmen on this offense as they both return for a fifth and final season of college lacrosse. Aughavin has been a consistent presence since his freshman season but didn’t see time as a full-time starter until 2020 as a junior. He started at attack in Brown’s lone game of 2021. Grell also started all five games during that shortened season. The pair have put up a career total of 148 points thus far.
Darian Cook looks to be the face of this attack unit with McCaleb’s graduation. Cook came on to the scene hot and ready as a freshman, where he put up an impressive 47 points (25G/22A). He tallied 16 points off eight goals and eight assists in 2020 and was on track for another stellar season.
In addition to those aforementioned three who will likely make up the core of this offense, the Bears have a roster full of younger and inexperienced players on that end that could very well step up and make a big impact in 2022. Junior midfielder Devon McLane started the lone game last season.
Defensively, the biggest question is obviously in cage with the loss of Goss. Senior Cameron Fiore and sophomore Connor Theriault are the only two returning keepers. Freshman Andy Demopoulos comes in as a highly-rated recruit and could have the opportunity to be the future at the position from the get-go. It’ll be interesting what this staff decides to do at the goalie once February roll around, but no matter who gets that starting nod, they will have some big shoes to fill.
Out in front of the cage, not too much changes at all. Seniors Luke Gaydos and Andrew Geppert lead the charge at close. The pair have seen a combined 28 starts since first stepping on campus ahead of the 2019 season and are now the veterans on this back end. Sophomore Mark Witt looks to be that third starter at close after playing that role in the Bears’ lone game last season.
LSM Adrian Enchill also returns for a fifth season to further bolster this Brown defense, especially that rope unit. Enchill was enjoying a breakout 2020 season when things were shut down, recording 17 ground balls and three caused turnovers as an impact player on both defense and on the faceoff wings.
At the faceoff dot, Matt Gunty returns after a breakout freshman season in 2020 where he won 67% of his draws, going 46-for-68.