(Photo Courtesy of Jacksonville Athletics)
The SoCon lacrosse enters a new era in 2022 as the conference will not have Air Force and Bellarmine as members for the first time since the conference added the sport. Additionally, Hampton has joined the conference. This shake-up will change the landscape of this conference a bit for sure, but overall we should still see the big three of Richmond, Jacksonville, and High Point sit above the rest.
Here is a look at how the SoCon shook out last season:
*SoCon Tournament Champs !SoCon Regular Season Champs
- Richmond – 7-6 (5-1)!
- High Point – 8-6 (5-1)*
- Jacksonville – 7-7 (4-2)
- Air Force – 4-9 (3-3)
- Mercer – 5-8 (2-4)
- Bellarmine – 5-10 (2-4)
- VMI – 1-10 (0-6)
Richmond shored up the SoCon regular season title and came into the conference tournament as the No. 1 seed. High Point took down the Spiders in the conference title game to win the tournament and grab that NCAA AQ. Jacksonville and Air Force fell in the conference semifinals.
Now let’s turn the focus towards the 2022 season.
Last season: N/A
Key Departures: Pierce Johnson (M), Derian Williams-Sturdivant (A), Kevin Mondy Jr. (G)
Transfer Additions: Ian Groom (FO, Hartford)
A lot has changed since the last time the Pirates took the field in March of 2020. First, Chazz Woodson has been hired as head coach and secondly, they move to the SoCon, giving themselves a conference home for the first time in program history. 2022 Will also be the first year they have played a full DI schedule. All together it’s a new era at Hampton. The one name to know coming back from 2020 is Ian Groom, who actually transfers back from Hartford after one season. He went 87-for-154 (56%) with the Pirates in 2020 and will be one of the more experienced players on this roster from day one.
High Point Panthers
Last season: 8-6 (4-1), SoCon Champs
Key Departures: Kevin Rogers (A)
Key Returners: Asher Nolting (A), Brayden Mayea (A), Grant Ammann (D), Antonio Arcona (G), Parker Green (G)
Transfer Additions: Jack Sawyer, (A, Maryland), Pete St. Geme (M, Delaware)
The Panthers won the SoCon for a second time in program history a year ago. Now, Jon Torpey’s will be looking to defend that title in 2022 and returns the talent to do so. Among which included fifth-year attackman Asher Nolting, who has been an impact player since he stepped foot on campus and is coming off a campaign in which he put up 72 points off 27 goals and 45 assists. Sophomore attackman Brayden Mayea (37G/5A) is another leader returning for the Panthers offense that ranked 18th nationally a year ago, averaging 13.36 goals per game. Antonio Arcona and Parker both saw starting action in cage last season and both return as anchors for this defense.
Last season: 7-7 (4-2)
Key Departures: Matt Stagnitta (A), Evan Tyler (M)
Key Returners: Jack Dolan (M), Jermey Winston (M), Colin Hinton (D), Jason Yoquinto (G)
Transfer Additions: Max Waldbaum (A, Tufts), Cam Johnson (M, UMass), Devon Sullivan (M, Syracuse), Marshall McGuire (M, Syracuse), Tyler Corpora (M, Hartford), Davis Smith (D, Utah), Luke Talago (FO, Syracuse), Luke Millican (G, North Carolina), Otto Bergmann (G, Canisius)
Jacksonville came within two goals of making it to the SoCon title game for a second time in program history. The Dolphins will be looking to do the same in 2022, and while they do have two of their top point-getters, Jack Dolan and Jeremy Winston both return as leaders on that end and transfers, such as Max Waldbaum, are expected to play a big part. The same is true on the back end where Colin Hinton is their top returning pole and the Dolphins now have a trio of starting-caliber goalies to anchor things with Otto Bergmann and Luke Millican transferring in.
Last season: 5-8 (2-4)
Key Departures: N/A
Key Returners: Sean Goldsmith (A), Tyler Dooley (M), Ashton Wood (FO), Colin Kelley (G)
Transfer Additions: None
Mercer has a very clear path to take over as that fourth best team in this new-look SoCon and will likely make the postseason in 2022 for the first time since the first season of SoCon lacrosse in 2015. The Bears enter the season with two players standing out amongst the rest on this roster in Sean Goldsmith and Ashton Wood. Goldsmith made headlines during the shortened 2020 season, ending the year as the nation’s leading scorer with 42 points and continued his dominance in 2021, despite missing the first half of the season due to injury. Wood is coming off a year in which he went 173-for-285 (.607%) at the faceoff dot as the best in the conference at the position.
Last season: 7-6 (5-1), SoCon Runner-Up
Key Departures: Richie Connell (A), Mustang Sally (SSDM), Sean Menges (D), Jason Reynolds (D), Jack Rusbuldt (G)
Key Returners: Ryan Lanchbury (A), Dalton Young (A)
Transfer Additions: Luke Frankeny (M)
After failing to three-peat as SoCon champs a year ago, the Spiders lose quite a bit of talent and in particular on the defensive end where their top two poles and three-year starter in cage are all gone, as well as one of their top SSDMs. However, while things will look vastly different on the back end, this Spiders offense, despite the loss of Connell, should still be a very solid one and be the highlight of this team. Ryan Lanchbury returns for a fifth season to highlight this unit following a 67-point season a year ago and this unit gets deeper with the addition of Luke Frankeny from Mount St. Mary’s. All in all, Richmond is still a very formidable squad as usual and a SoCon favorite.
Last season: 1-10 (0-6)
Key Departures: Jon Fant (A), Eric Lane (LSM)
Key Returners: Hartley Jordan (M), Scout Ripley (M), LT Ancona (D)
Transfer Additions: Trey Riemann (G, Hampton)
The James Purpura era started off with a bang as the VMI Keydets took down the Lafayette Leopards 13-12 on the road in their season-opener. That would be the lone victory of the season for the Keydets as they ended the season on a 10-game losing streak. After being fairly young at multiple spots last season, the Keydets return two of their top point-getters in Hartley Jordan and Scout Ripley as well as their top close defenseman LT Ancona, who helped contribute to the Keydets ranking second in the nation and conference in caused turnovers per game (10.36), trailing only fellow SoCon foe Richmond.
2022 SoCon Predictions
Here is a look at how I can see the SoCon shaking out this season, as well as who I would pick right now as the conference’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
- High Point
At the top, I expect the SoCon to be very competitive once again but past that it’s not too difficult this year to predict who will sit where. I would say the one place to keep your eye on is who gets that third and fourth seeds in the tournament. Mercer could very well pull some tricks this year and get that third spot if they really wanted it, and that will certainly happen if they can pull out a win over one of Richmond, High, Point, or Jacksonville.
Offensive Player of The Year: Ryan Lanchbury, A, Richmond
Defensive Player of The Year: Colin Hinton, D, Jacksonville