Fall Snapshot: Holy Cross Crusaders

(Photo Courtesy of Holy Cross Athletics)

Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.

Head Coach: J.L. Reppert (3rd season, 2020-current)

Holy Cross 2022 Record: 1-13 (0-8 Patriot League)

Key Departures: Will Spangenberg (A), Chris Conlin (D)

Key Returners: Dean DiNanno (A)

Transfer Additions: N/A

Year two of the J.L. Reppert era at Holy Cross was nothing to write home about. The Crusaders went 1-13 with their lone victory coming against UMass Lowell (15-14) and went winless in the Patriot League for the first time since 2012.

On top of their shortcomings in the win column, Holy Cross ranked 67th in offensive efficiency, averaging 8.57 goals per game, and 70th in defensive efficiency as they allowed 16.79 goals allowed per game, according to LacrosseReference. Only four times last spring did the Crusaders manage to put up double-digits (Boston U., Lafayette, UMass Lowell, Colgate).

Heading into year three of the J.L. Reppert era, there is a lot of growth and improvement to be had with this team. And with veteran starters such as Will Spangenberg and Chris Conlin gone, there will be room for new faces to emerge and take that next step.

Burning Questions

What Does a Post-Chris Conlin Defense Look Like?

The biggest loss, by far, for this Holy Cross program following last season is that of defenseman Chris Conlin. The now Notre Dame Irish defender, spent four seasons with the Crusaders and helped shape the identity of the Holy Cross defense. He caused a program-record 40 caused turnovers last season while also ended the year ranked third nationally in caused turnovers per game (3.00). He led the nation in the category in 2020 (2.86) and 2021 (3.17). A player as impactful as Conlin can simply not be replaced.

LSM Billy Carlini (9GB/6CT) and defensemen Hayes Reding (15GB/5CT), and Tyler Strub (10GB/4CT) are the Crusaders’ top returning poles from a year ago. Carlini served as the team’s top LSM while Reding started all 14 games at close and Strub started the final 11 games at close. Junior Peter Rogge (10GB/4CT) started the first three games of the season at close and could also be in the mix, along with some other guys, as it pertains to who steps up and gets serious clock at pole this spring.

Dawson Friers returns as the starting goalie from a year ago. He made 157 saves with a 47.4% save percentage in 13 games and 12 starts last season as a sophomore. His improvement would be a serious benefit for this defense in 2023 and help greatly.

How Much Can The Offense Improve?

Compared to their counterparts at the other end, the Holy Cross offense returns quite a bit of production from last season and could very well see that increase, especially amongst younger players, in 2023. Will Spangenberg (22G/12A) graduates as the team’s top goal-scorer from a year ago and its only loss amongst top-five scorers.

Dean DiNanno returns as the quarterback of this offense after a junior season in which he put up 36 points off 19 goals and 17 assists. DiNanno’s return provides the Crusaders with a known, veteran leader to at X who can run this offense and be a threat in many regards. The returning surrounding cast is also pretty veteran. Seniors T.J. Lynch (15G/17A), Tomas MacIntire (16G/3A), Connor Boyle (8G/5A), and Jayce Lambert (10G/2A) are also known producers. On top of that returning core of veterans, Tim O’Callaghan (5G/6A) and Cole Kratovil (2G/6A) should only help provide even more depth and production after strong sophomore campaigns.

After a season in which this unit averaged just 8.57 goals per game there is a lot of room for improvement, but if they can get going as fluid as they did at times last season, improvement is a reality.

What Will The Freshmen Impact Be?

I usually have a separate section for highlighting the incoming 2022 recruiting class, but for Holy Cross that isn’t going to be the case. J.L. Reppert has signed a pretty strong incoming freshman class that is highlighted by faceoff man Jordan Naso (St. Anthony’s, N.Y.). The younger brother of Duke faceoff man, Jake Naso, Jordan picked up where his brother left off at St. Anthony’s and has been a standout for the Friars at the dot each of the past few seasons. A former Air Force commit, his flip to Holy Cross was huge for this class and gave Reppert his biggest get since taking the job. Naso is rated as a four-star by Inside Lacrosse.

A pair of IL three-stars, Brendan Lane (Gonzaga, D.C.) and Tyler Marmo (Avon Old Farms, Conn.) highlight this class on the offensive end after tremendous high school careers.

The 14-man 2022 class Holy Cross has coming in could very well have an immediate impact on the field. The question that time can only answer is just how big that impact will be and if it will mean progress right away or not.

Potential Breakout Player

Thomas MacIntire, A/M, Senior

MacIntire played in the final seven games of the season, starting each of the last four. In those final four contest, he was very productive with 15 of his 19 points (13 goals, 2 assists) coming during that time. Assuming he stays on course, he could be one of the most productive offensive playmakers for the Crusaders in 2023.

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