2022 Patriot League Preview

(Photo Courtesy of Navy Athletics)

Last season was a unique one for the Patriot League. Not only did the league opt for an alternate schedule that split the conference into two divisions, but they then went back and forth on what the postseason would look like. Lastly, the conference tournament was shortened due to Loyola having a positive COVID test so Lehigh got to claim the title.

Normalcy is returning to the Patriot League this season and expect their top-tier teams to be some of the best in the country, as usual.

Here is a look at how the Patriot League shook out last season:

*Patriot League Tournament Champs

North

  1. Army West Point – 7-5 (5-2)
  2. Boston U. – 6-5 (4-2)
  3. Colgate – 3-7 (2-4)
  4. Holy Cross – 2-4 (1-3)

South

  1. Lehigh – 10-2 (8-0)
  2. Loyola – 10-6 (4-3)
  3. Navy – 7-3 (5-2)
  4. Bucknell – 2-6 (1-4)
  5. Lafayette – 0-12 (0-7)

Army, Boston U., and Colgate made the postseason from the North while Lehigh, Loyola, and Navy advanced from the South. Lehigh and Loyola were set to play in the title game before the Greyhounds were forced to forefit.

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

Army West Point Black Knights

Last season: 7-5 (5-2)

Key Departures: None

Key Returners: Brendan Nichtern (A), Marcus Hudgins (D), Wyatt Schupler (G)

Transfer Additions: None

Defense is a staple of West Point lacrosse and that doesn’t look to change in 2022 as they return two of their top poles from a year ago in  Marcus Hudgins (36GB/23CT) and Jack Weigand (21GB/8CT), as well as goalie Wyatt Schupler who made 132 saves with a .569% save percentage a year ago to anchor the nation’s  5th-best scoring defense as they allowed 9.27 goals per game. But the most decorated player on this roster lies on offense in senior attackman Brendan Nichtern. The star-studded attackman is coming off his most productive season, from a game-to-game standpoint. Putting up 57 points off 26 goals and 31 assists, Nichtern averaged 5.18 points per game, 2.36 goals per game, and 2.81 assists per game.

Boston U. Terriers

Last season: 6-5 (4-2)

Key Departures: 

Key Returners: Vince D’Alto (A), Louis Perfetto (A), Timmy Ley (A), Roy Meyer (LSM), Patrick Morrison (D)

Transfer Additions: Connor Calderon (FO, Maryland), Jax Popovich (FO, Richmond)

After faltering late in the season despite a strong start in 2021, the Terriers return a heap of talent. The duo of Vince D’Alto and Louis Perfetto at attack leads this offense. The two combined for 77 points a year ago. Additionally, Timmy Ley returns after a 34-point season in which he missed the final four games to further bolster this offense. LSM Roy Meyer and defenseman Patrick Morrison had breakout years and highlight the returnees on this back end. The pair of transfers in Connor Calderone and Jax Popovich should help the at the dot, where they went 41% a year ago as one of the worst teams in the conference.

Bucknell Bison

Last season: 2-6 (1-4)

Key Departures: Tommy Spoko (A)

Key Returners: Alston Terry (A), Dutch Furlong (A), Harry Wellford (M), Travis Talarico (D)

Transfer Additions: None

The Bison went 5-1 in 2020 and ended last season 2-6. And as usually is the case for a Frank Fedorjaka, this squad has a ton of bounce-back potential. Alston Terry returns to lead the way on offense after a 24-point season a year ago. On the back end, where the Bison gave up an average of 13.25 goals per game a season ago, Travis Talarico returns as the top pole after two strong seasons, including last year where he was second on the team in ground balls (28) and caused turnovers (11). Terry, Talarico, and the returners that surround them on each end provides the Bison with a very solid core coming into the season.

Colgate Raiders

Last season: 3-7 (2-4)

Key Departures: Mike Hawkins (A), James Caddigan (A)

Key Returners: Brian Minicus (A), Will Sidari (D), Thor Adamec (LSM)

Transfer Additions: 

Colgate went on a 7-1 run to upset Boston U. in the Patriot League quarterfinals and then fell to Lehigh 13-9 in the semis. Before entering the postseason, they put up a strong effort against Army in a 13-11 loss. That late-season run yielded only one Raiders win, but showed the potential this team has in 2022. Colgate returns just about everybody on defense, including defenseman Will Sidari (18GB/7CT) and LSM Thor Adamec (27GB/8CT). And on offense will see Brian Minicus return after putting up 15 goals and 25 assists a year ago as he showed he could be one of the better attackmen in the conference. With that talent returning, it could be a special 2022 for Colgate.

Holy Cross Crusaders

Last season: 2-4 (1-3)

Key Departures: 

Key Returners: Dean DiNanno (A), Will Spangenberg (A), Chris Conlin (D), A.J. Fox (G)

Transfer Additions: None

If there ever was such thing as a year zero for a head coach, J.L. Reppert lived it at Holy Cross last season. Reppert was hired 36 days before the start of the regular season and the Crusaders season was cancelled prematurely due to a “violation of team standards and of the College’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.” Goalie A.J. Fox is arguably the Crusaders’ most impactful returnee. He started all six games and made 85 saves with a .541% save percentage as an anchor for that defense. That included a 17-save game against Sacred Heart and a career-high 18-save performance against Syracuse. Dean DiNanno (8G/6A) and Will Spangenberg (5G/7A) are two of their top-five scorers returning.

Lafayette Leopards

Last season: 0-12 (0-7)

Key Departures: Noah Mendoza (D)

Key Returners: Peter Lehman (A), Charlie Cunniffe (A), JP Robinson (D), Tommy McGee (D), Ryan Ness (G)

Transfer Additions: None

Lafayette enters the season on a 27-game losing streak that dates back to March of 2019. Last season it was a youth movement that carried this team through, and those players now come into 2022 with a wealth of experience. Peter Lehman is the name to know on this squad as he led this team with 24 points off 20 goals and four assists a year ago, earning Patriot League Rookie of The Year honors. That youth can also be seen on the back end where JP Robinson (14GB/11CT) and Tommy McGee (20GB/10CT) return as the Leopards’ top two poles as sophomores.

Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Last season: 10-2 (8-0)

Key Departures: Matt Douglas (D)

Key Returners: Tommy Schelling (A), Christian Mule’ (A), Cole Kirst (A), Mike Sisselberger (FO), Teddy Leggett (LSM), James Spence (G)

Transfer Additions: None

The Mountain Hawks grabbed the Patriot League AQ last season should be in the fight to do so once again this season. Mike Sisselberger is back after taking the spotlight a year ago, going 225-for-283 (.795%) at the dot. His performance not only put up atop the nation, but also atop the record books with the best winning percentage in a season in both Patriot League and NCAA history. His 160 ground balls and 21-ground ball performance against Lafayette broke program and conference records. While Sisselberger will be the X-factor at the dot again this season, the Mountain Hawks will also see impact players such as Tommy Schelling (24G/24A) back on offense and goalie James Spence back to anchor things on defense.

Loyola Greyhounds

Last season: 10-2 (8-0)

Key Departures: None

Key Returners: Kevin Lindley (A), Aidan Olmstead (A), Bailey Savio (FO), Ryan McNulty (LSM), Sam Shafer (G)

Transfer Additions: Mustang Sally (SSDM, Richmond)

Loyola sat at 5-5 heading into the second-to-last weekend of the regular season. They would then go on to win 4 straight, only to have a COVID positive test take away their chances at a conference title. Still getting in the NCAA Tournament, a Sam Shafer save for the ages sent them past Denver and then fell subject to an overtime loss against Duke in the NCAA Quarterfinals. It was a wild ride, and one that showed just how good this team was and is. Loyola returns practically everybody, including Kevin Lindley and Aidan Olmstead to run things on offense, and LSM Ryan McNulty and Sam Shafer to highlight that defense.

Navy Midshipmen

Last season: 10-2 (8-0)

Key Departures: Christian Daniel (A), Nick Franchuk (D), Andrew McKenna (D), Spencer Rees (G)

Key Returners: Patrick Skalniak (M), Jon Jarsoz (M), Jacob Jarsoz (FO), Jackson Bonitz (D)

Transfer Additions: None

Navy has some pieces to replace, including goalie Spencer Rees. But Joe Amplo played a good amount of young guys last season and that group looks like they could very much lead the charge here in 2022. Jackson Bonitz has already established himself as an All-Conference caliber pole as he recorded 10 caused turnovers and 25 ground balls a season ago, and guys like Jon Jarosz (12G/5A) and Dane Swanson (5G/3A) will be heavy contributors at the midfield. Those now sophomores combined with juniors like Patrick Skalniak make up a strong core of this team.

2022 Patriot League Predictions

Here is a look at how I can see the Patriot League shaking out this season, as well as who I would pick right now as the conference’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.

Final Standings:

  1. Loyola
  2. Lehigh
  3. Army West Point
  4. Navy
  5. Boston U.
  6. Colgate
  7. Bucknell
  8. Holy Cross
  9. Lafayette

Loyola is the clear-cut best team in the Patriot League and I really believe we could be watching them play on Memorial Day weekend. Behind them the usual names of Lehigh, Army, and Navy should be there. That next crop of Boston U., Colgate, and Bucknell I think could cause some trouble for the top-tier and really cause some chaos if they put all the pieces together.

Offensive Player of The Year: Brendan Nichtern, A, Army West Point

Defensive Player of The Year: Jackson Bonitz, D, Navy

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