(Photo Courtesy of UMass Athletics)
The college lacrosse season is just a few weeks away, and as always there will teams that find success after either having a poor season the year before or not being widely regarded as a top-tier program in their respective conference in the preseason.
Here is a dive into five of the teams that may not be as high on some folks’ radar, but have pretty big potential in 2022.
Least we forget how Colgate ended the season last spring. The Raiders ended the season on a 1-3 run, but an impressive one at that as they fell to Army West Point by two, 13-11, in their regular season finale before beating Boston U. in the Patriot League Quarterfinals. They fell to Lehigh 13-9 in the semifinals. 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 it will be Brian Minicus running the show once again after putting up 15 goals and 25 assists a year ago. Colgate could do some real damage in the Patriot League if they really want to this spring.
Marist Red Foxes
The Red Foxes might not be under-the-radar to many diehard lacrosse fans, but many may have forgotten just how good this team was at the end of 2020 when they upset a top-10 Army West Point team. After only playing four games a year ago, Marist still has multiple players on roster from that 2020 season including attackmen Jamison Embury, Vito Musso, and JoJo Pirreca, as well as midfielders Hunter Embury, and Jason Intermesoli, who will be back for an extra season.That core combined for 19 starts last season and 32 over the past two seasons alone, and will be leading the way for this Red Foxes offense again in 2022. Logan Covey returns in cage after a strong freshman season a year ago. This is very much a team that could run through the MAAC.
Merrimack is still three years away from being eligible from participating in the postseason after moving up from DII following the 2019 season, but this is still one of the more interesting teams in the NEC. The Warriors were fairly young last season and return each of their top-five point getters, including the Rooney brothers, Jack and Tommy, who combined for 67 points a year ago. All-NEC defenseman Nicholas Perez-Blanco (14GB/18CT) is the top returning pole for a defense that was also very young last spring and returns Henry Vogt in cage after posting a 53% save percentage as a freshman. Merrimack may not be postseason eligible, but they can make some noise in the regular season.
Robert Morris Colonials
Spending a year as an independent, and especially doing so last season, made Robert Morris drop off the radar for some folks. The Colonials come into 2022 with a new head coach in Craig McDonald and in a new conference: the ASUN. While the Colonials lose some big names, most notably on offense, fifth-year midfielder Jake Boudreau and attackman Corson Kealey headline their returnees after combining for 54 points a year ago for an offense that ended the year as a top-15 unit. Robert Morris will be solidly in the hunt for the ASUN title and could very well find themselves back in the NCAA Tournament for third time in five seasons.
To put it bluntly, UMass simply did not live up to expectation in 2021. The supposed most talented team in the CAA went 4-6 (4-4 CAA). It was the worst season for UMass since 2016 and only the third losing season for the program since joining the CAA, and sixth during Greg Cannella’s 27 years at the helm. The Minutemen return a heap of talent, including goalie Matt Knote and faceoff man Zach Hochman who have been impact players since their freshman season in 2020. Additionally, the UMass offense returns returns three of their top-five point-getters from a year ago in fifth-year midfielder Kevin Tobin, senior attackman Gabriel Procyk, and sophomore attackman Dillon Arrant. Sacred Heart transfer Logan Liljeberg gives that core, which combined for 79 points in 2021, even more firepower.