(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Athletics)
The college lacrosse season is just a few weeks away, and as always there will be players that seemingly come out of nowhere, in many respects, and surprise within their respective conference or on the national level.
Lacrosse Bucket dives into some of those players who we could see have breakout seasons in 2022. Some have seen glimpses of the spotlight. Some are coming off of injuries, some ended last season strong, some are at new places, and some haven’t played for over a year. Whichever road they have been traveling, they are well positioned to shine when given the opportunity this spring.
Canyon Birch, Attack, Penn State
If it wouldn’t have been for injury troubles, the lacrosse world likely would have gotten a really good show from Birch a year ago. But due to injury, he only played in the final four games of the season and started in the final three. He had four points (3G/1A). With the talent lost at the position and assuming he can stay healthy, Birch could very well see himself step into a much bigger role in this offense in 2022.
Thomas Bragg, Attack, Yale
Another situation where opportunity wasn’t given last season. Yale did not play in 2021. Returning to the field now this spring, on of the names to know for the Bulldogs offense is Thomas Bragg. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound attackman tallied ten points (8G/2A) as the Bulldogs’ primary reserve at the attack position last season as a sophomore. With his skillset and size, Bragg easily fits into that Jackson Morrill role as an all-around playmaker who can attack and quarterback an offense. Yale looses 35 points off of the most productive attack unit from 2020, Bragg has a clear opportunity to step in and thrive.
Nick DeMaio, Attack, Towson
DeMaio played in five games for Maryland last season and took six shots before entering the NCAA Transfer Portal and finding his way to Towson. Reports from the fall put DeMaio as a potential leader and major impact player for this offense. The former top-10 recruit may find his rhythm and explode this spring, where he will be playing alongside another Maryland-Towson transfers in James Avanzato.
Jack Pucci, Attack, UAlbany
Perhaps no player has been around the block in recent years than Pucci. After starting his career at Jacksonville in 2019, he spent 2020 and 2021 at Nassau CC, where he helped lead the Lions to an NJCAA national title last spring and put up 67 points (20G/7A). He was named the NJCAA Player of The Year. Now back at the DI level, Pucci joins a UAlbany program where he can slide right in there and be an impact on offense.
Alex Slusher, Midfield, Princeton
It’s been two years since Slusher and the Tigers last stepped on the field. During that shortened 2020 season, the midfielder tallied eight points (7G/1A) while helping lead the Tigers to a 5-0 start before the remainder of the season was cancelled. As the Tigers’ top returning midfielder, big things are expected from Slusher this spring, which will be his first full season of college lacrosse.
Joe Neuman, Faceoff, Yale
Who is the replacement for TD Ierlan in New Haven? Joe Neumann was a high-profile coming into Yale as an Under Armour All-American. A Long Island native and Salisbury (Conn.) product, he sat behind one of the best faceoff men in college lacrosse history for two seasons. Returning to the field after Yale didn’t play a year ago, expect Neumann to take over. Neuman has played in 16 games and gone 39-58 (67%).
Ross Burgmaster, Defense/LSM, Notre Dame
Playing both LSM and close at times a year ago, Burgmaster collected 18 ground balls and caused three turnovers. After that solid freshman season and with some of the holes this defense needs to fill, it wouldn’t be surprising to see his take on a bigger role on the back end for the Irish here in 2022.
Cole Kastner, Defense, Virginia
A name folks know by now, Kastner didn’t get but four starts this past season as he spent most of the year coming off the bench. However, all four of those starts came during the Cavaliers’ NCAA Tournament run where the 6-foot-7 Kastner emerged as the top defender for the eventual champions. Kastner ended the season with seven caused turnovers and 14 ground balls. Imagine what he can do this spring as a full-time starter.
Logan Covey, Goalie, Marist
Covey isn’t an unknown name. He was a MAAC All-Rookie selection a year ago. However, due to a pause that lasted over a month, Covey and the Red Foxes only got to play four games last spring. He made 49 saves with a .554% save percentage in those four games as a freshman a year ago. With a full season ahead, big things are expected from the Maryland native.
Bobby Gavin, Goalie, Syracuse
Gary Gait added a big addition to his inaugural Syracuse men’s team over the winter in Gavin. Serving as the backup for Virginia last season, he saw two starts early in the season in the absence of Alex Rode and was named the ACC Defensive Player of The Week following a 13-save performance against Army West Point. The sophomore is the likely starter for the Orange and could very well be the next great Syracuse goalie following All-America Drake Porter.