(Photo Courtesy of Lindenwood Athletics)
As of today, Lindenwood and Queens University of Charlotte are officially members of the DI landscape. The addition of the two brings the NCAA men’s DI scene up to 76 teams.
Both the Lions and Royals will be competing in the ASUN, bringing the league up to 10 teams in men’s lacrosse. Jacksonville and Mercer are also moving to the league this season following the SoCon ending their men’s lacrosse sponsorship.
As rules currently are, both programs will have to wait for years until they are eligible for the NCAA Tournament. The ASUN has no such restrictions on when a team elevating from one division to another can compete for a conference title.
With both teams now officially part of the fabric of DI lacrosse, let’s take a look back at the final DII seasons each program had and take a peak at what could be expected from them in 2023.
2022 Record: 12-4 (5-1)
In their final year as a DII program, the Lindenwood Lions went out on top of their respective conference as GLVC champions for the first time ever. The Lions avenged their title game loss from a year ago with a 13-10 win over Indianapolis.
Lindenwood’s season came to an end with a 20-11 loss against Wingate in the first round of the DII NCAA Tournament.
Of the Lions’ four losses, two came against top-10 teams in Limestone and Tampa, who ended up as the undefeated (21-0) national champions. The Lions top win of the season came during their first meeting against Indianapolis, beating the then No. 3 team in the nation 8-7 in overtime.
Lindenwood ended the season ranked No. 10 in the final rankings.
Key Returners and Departures:
The Lions’ offense averaged 12.4 goals per game this past season and heading into next spring will have some holes to fill. The biggest of which being Patrick Kaschalk (62G/16A). The grad transfer from Stony Brook led the Lions in scoring this past season and was named the GLVC Player of The Year.
Rising senior Cam Smith (27G/25A) and rising sophomore Dylan Colon (8G/20A) each had strong seasons and will likely be expected to play greater roles next spring.
On the back end, the Lions return a number of players from a unit that allowed 7.8 goals per game a season ago.
Chief among them is rising senior Brian Kallberg. A second-team All-GLVC selection, he led the Lions in caused turnovers (27) this past season while also grabbing 23 ground balls. SSDM Oisin McTigue (48GB/22CT) is another big returnee on the back end for this Lindenwood squad.
The biggest hole to fill on defense will be in between the pipes where the Lions lose Kyle Herbert. A grad transfer from Stony Brook, Herbert made 140 saves with a 58.6% save percentage a season ago and was name GLVC Goalkeeper of The Year.
At the faceoff dot, saw Johny Major and Michael Miocic share duties last season. A rising senior, Major is the only returner for 2023. He went 97-for-192 (50.5%) at the dot.
Lindenwood has a solid foundation to build upon as they head into their first season as a DI program. But it shouldn’t be expected for them to be hovering at or around the top of the conference in year one.
Utah, Robert Morris, Jacksonville, Air Force make up the top tier of the ASUN and within that I would say there is a tier with Jacksonville by themselves next season. Below them is a mixture of Bellarmine, Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, Mercer, along with Queens and Lindenwood. The Lions should be able to be competitive from the get-go in that group and possibly push those upper teams. That is especially true if they can fill those holes.
Queens University of Charlotte Royals
2022 Record: 12-5 (7-3)
The Royals saw their final season as a DII program end with a 16-11 defeat against Limestone in the SAC semifinals. They beat Newberry 14-13 in overtime of the conference quarterfinals.
Recording double-digit wins for the second time during the Chris Panos era, Queens ended the season as the No. 16th-ranked team in DII lacrosse.
Of their five losses, three came against teams that ended the season ranked in the top 201 (Limestone, Wingate, Belmont Abbey).
The Royals’ biggest win of the season came in February as they defeated then 14th-ranked Mount Olive 16-6. It was the only win over a ranked team the Royals earned during the 2022 campaign.
Key Returners and Departures:
Kealen Pilon (56G/39A) and Tyler Ewen (52G/31A) are both gone after being the Royals’ first and second leading goal scorers in 2022. The pair are the biggest losses for this Queens squad as they take with them 178 points (108 goals) from this past spring. Defenseman Jack O’Grady (45GB/13CT) is the program’s biggest loss on defense.
Outside of those aforementioned losses, the Royals return quite a bit from a season ago. The biggest returner being William Powley at the goalie position. Powley made 154 saves with a 52% save percentage to anchor a defense that allowed 10.17 goals per game last season. A pair of starters at close return alongside him in Colby Sugila (30GB/11CT) and Will McNichols (30GB/10CT). Both were full-time starters as sophomores and McNichols earned third-team All-SAC honors.
Attackman Jack Royer netted 31 goals and dished out 23 assists last season as a freshman. He is the top returner for the Royals on the offensive end and is another younger player who should be expected to have more put on his back in 2023.
At the faceoff dot, Jacob Martin (59-for-93) and Jonathan Stansel (25-for-33) served as the backups last season while Alex Alonso went 224-for-373 (60%) during his senior campaign.
Jumping into the DI landscape and into the ASUN, the Royals have a talented enough roster to make the transition and succeed. But, just like their fellow DI jumpers in Missouri, it should not be expected for them to be competing for ASUN titles rights out of the gate.
With Queens the intrigue is much deeper than just how much and how soon success will come against ASUN foes. Sitting in a state with three other successful DI programs (Duke, UNC, and High Point), when will the Royals be able to compete with those other Tar Heel State programs and put up a fight? Is it year one, year three, or year five? That’ll be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow with their jump.