(Photo Courtesy of Utah Athletics)
The conference that stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the suburbs of Pittsburg and sees each of its six teams hailing from six different states, will meet just miles north of the Tennessee River in Huntsville, Alabama for its conference tournament.
The 2022 Atlantic Sun (ASUN) Men’s Lacrosse Tournament will get underway on Thursday, May 5th with the semifinals. The championship game will be played on Saturday.
No. 1 Utah (9-3, 5-0 ASUN)
Under new head coach Andrew McMinn, the Utah Utes have been the class of the ASUN as they have run through the conference generally unscathed with an undefeated record in league play. They also earned solid non-conference wins early in the year (Vermont, Jacksonville), which only bolsters their resume and prestige even more.
Star Player: Tyler Bradbury, Attack
Bradbury is the guy Utah wants with the ball in his stick. Putting up 52 points off 24 goals and 28 assists this season, he has been the leader of the Utes’ offense. That is especially true since conference play began as he has put up more than five points in all but one ASUN game with Air Force being the lone team that has held him under that mark (1G/1A).
X-Factor: Samuel Cambere, LSM/D
Utah leads DI in clearing percentage with a 92% success rate. A big aspect of that success is how good the Utes have been in transition. Cambere had benefited greatly from that system, tallying 10 points (2G/8A) as an impact player in that transition offense. But he’s not just a run and gun type LSM, Cambere can also play down low and serves as the Utes’ top playmaker on that end. He leads the Utes with 22 caused turnovers and has also grabbed 58 ground balls.
Player to Watch: Ruben Santana, Midfield
One of a multitude of midfielders that has made an impact on both ends of the field with this McMinn-style Utah team, Santana has been one of the leaders in that department as their top defensive midfielder. He has grabbed 21 ground balls, causes seven turnovers, scored eight goals, and dished out six assists thus far.
No. 2 Robert Morris (8-5, 4-1 ASUN)
First-year head coach Craig MacDonald has the Colonials in the right spot amongst the ASUN elite as they have beaten everybody except Utah.
Star Player: Taggart Clark, Attack
On a Robert Morris offense that has a typical Canadian flare, Clark is the ledaer. The Stouffville, Ontario native made his name known with five-point (4G/1A) game against Duke to begin the season and has never wavered since, leading the Colonials with 54 points off 43 goals and 11 assists. Clark has averaged 3.4 goals per game against ASUN opponents with Utah and Air Force being the only teams to hold him under four goals.
X-Factor: Bo Columbus, Faceoff
A Mercyhurst transfer, Columbus has been a revelation for this Robert Morris squad at a position where improvement was very much needed coming into this spring. The sophomore has gone 168-for-297 (65%). That included a 52% mark against Utah and 70% performance against Air Force.
Player to Watch: James Leary, Defense
Underrated? One could say that of James Leary as he has been, sometimes quietly, making plays for this Colonials all season as not only their top pole, but also as a transition threat. He played the first two games at LSM before being moved down to close for each of the past 11 games. Leary has caused 23 turnovers, scooped up 43 ground balls, and put up seven points (5G/2A) this season.
No. 3 Air Force (8-6, 3-2 ASUN)
After a down season a year ago, compared to Air Force standards over the past decade, the Falcons have stormed back this season as a sure-fire power in the ASUN. Defense, and defensive improvement, has been the calling card for this squad, jumping from 41st nationally a season ago to now being ranked amongst the top-20 defenses in college lacrosse.
Star Player: Brandon Dodd, Attack
Dodd leads not only the Falcons, but the ASUN as a whole in points. The attackman has put up 68 points on the season with 45 goals and 23 assists. Dodd is the go-to guy for Air Force and draws the most attention of any player on that offense from opposing defenses.
X-Factor: Jason Rose, Goalie
The junior Garnet Valley, Pa. native stepped in between the pipes as the starter for the final four games of the 2021 campaign and has never let go of the job. This season, Rose has made 169 saves with a 54% save percentage. Against ASUN competition those numbers are even better with a 56% save percentage and 51 combined saves in those games.
Player to Watch: Caden Wolfson, Defense
One of the most intriguing player on a top-20 defense, Wolfson has started each of the past 10 games at close for the Falcons and has grabbed 14 ground balls and caused eight turnovers this season. But until this spring, he had only seen action in one game: versus Detroit Mercy as a freshman in 2019. With injuries behind him, Wolfson has been given the green light, taken the opportunity, and ran with it.
No. 4 Bellarmine (4-12, 2-3 ASUN)
Three one-goal losses and two, two-goal losses help define this Knights team. The question coming into the postseason for Andy Whitley’s group is can they get it done, and do so against the best in the conference?
Star Player: Jon Robbins, Defense
The nation’s leader in caused turnovers (43), Robbins has put together a season highlighted by rewriting record books, becoming Bellarmine’s all-time career leader in caused turnovers, breaking the program record for most CTs in a game (6), plus surpassing his own record for CTs in a season. Robbins is the heart and soul of this Bellarmine squad.
X-Factor: Kyle Playsted, Attack
A behind-the-back scoring machine, Playsted came onto the scene strong as a freshman for the Knights and has continued to put up numbers as a sophomore in 2022. Playsted leads the Knights with 25 goals and 28 assists for 53 points this season, being their primary goal-scorer and distributor at X.
Player to Watch: Denton MacDonald, Midfield
After playing solely defensive midfield last season, MacDonald is now seen amongst the starting midfield for Bellarmine and making plays on both ends of the field. He has put up 16 points (12G/4A), grabbed 24 ground balls, and caused 12 turnovers this season as a major two-way threat.
Utah vs Bellarmine: Utah
Robert Morris vs Air Force: Air Force
Utah vs Air Force: Utah