2022 America East Preview

(Photo Courtesy of Stony Brook Athletics)

Since UAlbany’s trip to Championship Weekend in 2018, the America East has become more wide open and thus more competitive from top to bottom. UMBC won the conference as the No. 4 seed in 2019 and Vermont won the conference in 2021 to make their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. With so much talent returning for both of those aforementioned squads, as well as UAlbany and Stony Brook, it should be a tightly-contested race at the top once again in 2022.

Here is a look at how the America East shook out last season:

*America East Tournament Champs !Co-America East Regular Season Champs

  1. UMBC – 8-3 (6-2)!
  2. Vermont – 9-5 (7-2)*!
  3. Stony Brook – 8-6 (6-3)
  4. UAlbany – 8-5 (5-3)
  5. Binghamton – 5-3 (5-3)
  6. Hartford – 2-5 (2-5)
  7. UMass Lowell – 1-8 (1-8)
  8. NJIT – 1-10 (1-8)

UMBC, Vermont, Stony Brook, and UAlbany advanced to the conference tournament, which was won by Vermont. The Catamounts beat UAlbany in the America East title game and then saw their season end with a loss to Maryland in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Reminder: Hartford has opted out of America East play this spring due to lack of numbers after a roster exodus this summer following the school’s announcement that they intend to drop athletics down to DIII.

Now let’s turn the focus towards the 2022 season.

UAlbany Great Danes

Last season: 8-5 (5-3), America East Runner-up

Key Departures: Jakob Patterson (A), Kyle Casey (A/M), Steven Kunz (D), Michael Kosar (D), Liam Donnelly (G)

Key Returners: Corey Yunker (A), Graydon Hogg (A), Elijah Gash (D), Regan Endres (FO)

Transfer Additions: Jack Pucci (A, Nassau CC), Perry Cassidy (G, Western Connecticut State)

In 2021, facing an America East heavy schedule, the Dane train appeared to get back on the tracks. The Danes went 8-5 overall (5-3 America East) and fell to Vermont, 15-10, in the conference title game. Additionally, the fiery offense that has been a staple of this program made somewhat of a return as Albany finished the season ranked 11th nationally in scoring offense (13.85 goals per game) and third in points per game (24.08). They also had a solid defense, allowing 11 goals per game, as the 31st-ranked scoring defense in the nation. Despite a slew of personnel losses, the Danes have a talented roster and will be looking to keep that momentum going as they keys are handed to the next generation.

Senior attackman Corey Yunker is the Danes’ top returning point-getter after putting up 39 points off 28 goals and 11 assists as the team’s second-leading scorer in 2021. Junior Graydon Hogg, who was the third-leading scorer with 29 goals and nine assists for 38 points, joins him as an expected leader of a unit that will also likely see a trio of sophomores in Camden Hay, Logan Tucker, and Peter Salit get a lot of clock. Elijah Gash and Tanner Hay are in a similar situation on defense as the top returners for a unit that loses two starting poles and their starting goalie. Faceoff is the one area where you can have a lot of confidence as to who will be there consistently for the Danes in 2022 with Regan Endres returning for his sophomore season after going 143-for-281 (.509%) a year ago.

Binghamton Bearcats

Last season: 5-4 (5-4)

Key Departures: Tom Galgano (D), Kyle Tiernan (D), Gus Hueber (D)

Key Returners: Thomas Greenblatt (A), Kevin Winkoff (A/M), Ryan McBeth (M), Matthew DeSouza (FO), Teddy Dolan (G)

Transfer Additions: None

The Bearcats found themselves on the outside looking in when all was said and done and the America East Tournament field was finalized last season. That is despite beating both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeded teams during the regular season. With the same crop of UAlbany, UMBC, Stony Brook, and Vermont likely to be the top of the conference once again this season and scheduling normalcy returning, the Bearcats will likely need two wins against that bunch to break into that top four just as they did in 2017.

With two new coordinators added to Kevin McKeown’s staff this summer in Nick Grill (Defense) and Tyler Perrelle (Offense), the loss of their entire starting close defense with the exception of goalie Teddy Dolan, and an offense with much room for improvement after ranking 56th nationally in scoring offense (8.78 goals per game), there are a number of ways in which this team could go in 2022. All five of the Bearcats’ leading scorers, including leading point-getter Thomas Greenblatt (16G/7A) return in 2022, but where many of the headlines surrounding this program coming into this spring lay is at the faceoff dot. The folks in Vestal are certainly hoping things move up on both ends, but they can almost count on being able to get the ball with Matthew DeSouza returning at the dot following a stellar campaign in which he went 94-for-164 (.573%).

NJIT Highlanders

Last season: 1-10 (1-8)

Key Departures: Luke Binder (D)

Key Returners: Collin Fogerty (A), Owen Corry (A), Lynch Raby (LSM), Liam Brown (G)

Transfer Additions: None

After a season in which the Highlanders not only recorded a historic, first ever America East win but also closely challenged two other conference foes, the question surrounding this program is whether they can progress in year two in the America East or not? That question is even more compelling when you consider that normalcy has returned after a once in a lifetime season in which scheduling across college lacrosse looked nothing like it ever had before.

This Highlanders have much room for improvement after having the second-worst scoring offense in DI, averaging just 7.18 goals per game, and ranking 57th in scoring defense, allowing an average of 14.45 goals per game. Practically everyone is back on both ends with leading scorer Collin Fogerty (15G/11A) and midfielder Owen Corry (19G/5A) coming back to lead things on offense once again while Teddy Grimley (19GB/7CT), Matthew Bowerman (6GB/2CT), and LSM Lynch Raby (29GB/17CT) returning on the other end, as well as starting goalie Liam Brown. He posted a 53% save percentage a year ago.

Stony Brook Seawolves

Last season: 8-6 (6-3), America East semifinalist

Key Departures: Cory Van Ginhoven (A), Chris Pickel Jr. (M), Tom Haun (M), Devin O’Leary (D)

Key Returners: Dylan Pallonetti (A), Mike McCannell (M), Michael Sabella (D), Anthony Palma (G), Austin Deskewicz (FO)

Transfer Additions:  Kevin Mack (A, Michigan) Ryan Pallonetti (M, Franklin & Marshall), Nick Squicciarini (G, LIU), Kyle Love (D, UMass Lowell), and Jacob Williams (D, Mount Olive).

The first full season under Anthony Gilardi ended just as every Stony Brook season, with the exception of the shortened 2020 campaign, has for the past nine years: an America East semifinals loss. 2022 marks a decade since the Seawolves last won the America East and earned the right to play in the NCAA Tournament. A decade after last being the kings of the conference, can Stony Brook put all the pieces together and take back to America East title as they once did?

Offense was the highlight of this team in 2021 as they the nation’s fourth-best scoring offense (14.36 goals per game) while also having the 18th-best team shooting percentage (.302%), and the ninth-ranked man-up unit in DI, cashing in on .434% of their opportunities. Not much should change there in 2022 with two of their top five point-getters returning in redshirt sophomore attackman Dylan Pallonetti, who was named the conference’s Offensive Player of The Year and Rookie of The Year, and fifth-year midfielder Mike McCannell. A mixture of Wayne White, Matt Anderson, Michigan grad transfer Kevin Mack, and others only add more talent and depth to this offense. I’m confident that unit will produce no matter what, but this Seawolves defense is a different story and the biggest hesitation I have about Stony Brook in 2022. After improving last season they don’t return a whole lot with poles Michael Sabella, Danny Cassidy, and goalie Anthony Palma being their only full-time starters back on that end.

UMass Lowell River Hawks

Last season: 1-8 (1-8)

Key Departures: Jake Lining (M), Max Christides (G)

Key Returners: Connor Foley (A), Sean Parker (M), Eric Flynn (D), Tanner Soudan (D)

Transfer Additions:

Coming off a season in which the River Hawks won just a single game against a conference-only schedule, UMass Lowell  has their work cut out for them with plenty of room for growth at nearly every area and facet of the game. And if they want any shot at challenging for that fourth spot in the America East tournament again, improvement must be had as it has been in the past.

Eric Flynn is the face of this defense and one of the main faces of this team once again as he comes off a 2021 campaign in which he scooped up 12 ground balls and caused 11 turnovers. Flynn highlights a defense that has a lot of room for growth with Tanner Soudan and  Ethan Zupko also return on the back end after seeing a combined 13 games a season ago. Similarly on offense, Connor Foley (11G/3A) returns as the leader of this offense. With as much talent on both ends, growth can be seen from this team. However, for growth to be truly seen the River Hawks need to figure out things in cage following the loss of Max Christides and at the faceoff dot, where  Liam McDonough is the River Hawks’ top returner at the position after going 43-for-110 (.391%).

UMBC Retrievers

Last season:  8-3 (7-2)

Key Departures: Ryan Frawley (A), Trevor Patschorke (A), Brett McIntyre (A)

Key Returners: Nick Dupuis (A), Brandon Galloway (M), Colin Kasner (D), Tommy Lingner (G, Alex Poma (FO)

Transfer Additions: Drew Goode (M, Howard CC)

The Retrievers came within two goals of making it back to the America East title game for the second consecutive season and getting that chance to defend their title from 2019. While UMBC ultimately fell short of repeating as America East champions this past spring, it was certainly not due to a lack of talent. And with much of it returning in 2022, the Retrievers could very well see themselves back on top of the conference sooner rather than later.

Defense has been and is the identity of this team, and that fact is not likely to change anytime soon. The Retriever’s defense ranked 6th nationally in scoring defense (9.55 goals allowed per game) a year ago. The retrievers’ top pole in Colin Kasner (23GB/14CT) and goalie Tommy Lingner, who has been the starter in cage since his freshman season and is coming off 118-save (.529% save percentage), return to headline that marquee unit. Ryan Moran’s squad also sees high-end talent returning elsewhere as Nick Dupuis (23G/16A) and Brandon Galloway (24G/3A) headline this offense and Alex Poma should continue his high-level of lay at the faceoff dot after going 101-for-214 (47%) last year.

Vermont Catamounts

Last season: 9-5 (7-2)

Key Departures: None

Key Returners: Thomas McConvey (M), David Closterman (A), Liam Limoges (A), Nick Alviti (LSM), Will Jones (D), Tommy Burke (D)

Transfer Additions: Devin O’Leary (LSM, Stony Brook)

In 2021, the Vermont Catamounts made history as they were able to finally break through and win the America East and make it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Now, coming into this spring, the sport’s northernmost DI program has a target on its back that has never existed before, and the question of whether they can repeat or not as conference champions will be looming all season. With the talent that they return, the Catamounts are still one of the top teams in the conference and could very well repeat as champions if they put all the pieces together.

The biggest piece returning for this Vermont team lies at the faceoff dot with junior Tommy Burke. The Palm Beach, Fla. native went 240-for-344 (.698%) last season and ended the year ranked third in DI in faceoff win percentage. When Burke is on this team is on, and that often leads to the Catamounts operating as a well-oiled machine for a near full 60 minutes. This offense returns each of their top five point-getters from a season ago, including seniors Thomas McConvey and David Closterman, off a unit that put up an average of 13.43 goals per game as the nation’s 16th-best scoring offense. On the opposite end, the Catamounts close defense unit should look like it two seasons ago in 2020 with Will Jones and Tim Manning returning as the only two full-time starters from last season. Junior Jackson Canfield started the first two games of last season before sitting out the rest of the year with a knee injury and should be back at full strength. Vermont has ranked in the top-15 in scoring defense each year since 2017, with the exception of last season where they finished 23rd in that category, so I would expect this unit to bounce back this spring.

2022 America East Predictions

Here is a look at how I can see the America East shaking out this season, as well as who I would pick right now as the conference’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. I also added in a Transfer Player of The Year to predict who will be the most impactful transfer.

Final Standings:

  1. Vermont
  2. UMBC
  3. UAlbany
  4. Stony Brook
  5. Binghamton
  6. UMass Lowell
  7. NJIT

Predicting the America East certainly isn’t as easy as it used to be during Albany’s run of dominance. Honestly, among the top four I could see things shake out any which way with how thin the margins seem to be between those teams at the moment. I feel like Vermont and UMBC have the most complete rosters with all they return up and down the field. I have many questions about some of the holes Albany and Stony Brook have and am unsure of just how quick those can be fixed.

Offensive Player of The Year: Dylan Pallonetti, A, Stony Brook

Defensive Player of The Year: Colin Kasner, D, UMBC

Transfer of The Year: Kevin Mack, A, Stony Brook (from Michigan)

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