Fall Snapshot: Bryant Bulldogs

(Photo Courtesy of Bryant 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: Brad Ross (first season, 2022-Present)

Bryant 2022 Record: 8-7 (6-1 NEC)

Key Departures: Marc O’Rourke (A), Logan McGovern (A), Bennett Abladian (A), LaJhon Jones (D/LSM), Jon Miller (SSDM), Luke Caracciolo (G)

Key Returners: Timmy Hackett (M), Aidan Goltz (M)

Transfer Additions: Connor McMahon (M, Mount St. Mary’s)

Bryant has been a model to follow for newer DI programs and mid-major in general. Since its move to the DI landscape ahead of the 2009 season, the Bulldogs have seemingly done nothing but win. Six NEC Championships and five NCAA Tournament appearances have been the fruits of the labor the Bulldogs have enjoyed as a DI.

The success continued this past season as Bryant went 8-7 (6-1 NEC) in 2022 and saw their season end with a loss in the conference semifinals against Hobart. But what has been most notable about this program as of recent is not what has happened on the field, but the changes off of it. Firstly, Bryant will be competing in the America East next season. Secondly, the Bulldogs will have a new man leading the charge as Mike Pressler retired this summer after 16 seasons at the helm. Thirdly, a sizable roster exodus has ensued with five key players transferring out. Attackmen Logan McGovern and Bennett Abladian are headed to North Carolina and Cornell whole LSM/D LaJhon Jones and SSDM Jon Miller are headed to Rutgers. Goalie Luke Caracciolo is now a Johns Hopkins Blue Jay. Moreover, attackman Marc O’Rourke has exhausted his eligibility.

Newly-minted head coach Brad Ross returns to Smithfield to take over the program that Pressler, who coached Ross at Duke before hiring him as an assistant at Bryant, helped mold into one of the most consistent mid-majors in DI lacrosse. But like with any situation of having to replace “The Guy” many questions persist.

Burning Questions

What Does The Attack Line Look Like?

The Bulldogs’ starting attack line of Marc O’Rourke (43G/18A), Logan McGovern (19G/35A), and Bennett Abladian (42G/5A) combined for 104 goals and 162 points last season, accounting for 57% of the team’s total offensive production. All three of those players are gone as O’Rourke has exhausted his eligibility whole McGovern and Abladian have transferred out.

Replacing an entire attack line is never easy and especially so when its one as productive as the Bulldogs’ have seen each of the past few seasons. Whether or not they can successful replace this unit will is arguably the biggest question for them all as Bryant heads into this new era.

Junior Isaiah Davis (5G/2A) started one game at attack last season while senior Kevin Groeninger (8G/4A), who is listed as an A/M, played and started in eight games last season at the midfield spot. The two are some of the top returners who could be productive members at attack. Bryant also brings in

Who Replaces Luke Caracciolo in Cage?

A four-year starter for the Bulldogs, Caracciolo proved to be one of the best goalies in the NEC and across the mid-major spectrum as a whole. He leaves Smithfield with his name high up in the record books, ranking third in career saves (534), first in saves per game (12.1), and tied for fourth in save percentage (53.1%). He also ranks 4th in program history in single-seasons saves (181).

That aforementioned feat was accomplished this past season as Carcciolo anchored a Bryant defense that allowed 11 goals per game. Against NEC competition, they were the best defense in the league, allowing 7.57 goals per game against conference foes.

Sophomore Tegan Alexander is the only returning goalie with any starting experience. He earned his first start and lone game action against Saint Joseph’s in 2021, making 17 saves with a 56.7% save percentage in the Bulldogs’ 13-5 loss. Junior Brennan Hart was the primary backup last season as he saw action in seven games and made 15 saves with a 75% save percentage.

Will Bryant Stay a Consistent Winner?

In the 14 seasons since its move to DI, Bryant has done nothing but win. Now in the America East, the Bulldogs will be entering a league that will be tougher from top to bottom. They now join a league that features perennial mid-major powers in UAlbany and UMBC, as well as two-time league champion Vermont, as its premier programs.

Bryant will be looking to come into this new league with a new coach and show that they are still a force to be reckoned with. But just exactly how good or dominant should this team be expected to be this spring? That is the ultimate questions.

Potential Breakout Player

Isaiah Davis, Junior, Attack

Davis saw one start last season as a sophomore and ended the year with five goals and two assists as one of the Bulldogs’ most productive reserves. With the holes on the attack unit, Davis should be able to slide in and make an impact for this offense moving forward.

Freshman Class

The Bulldogs bring in a 16-man freshman class, per the Lacrosse Bucket Recruiting Database. St. Margaret’s Episcopal (Calif.) midfielder Matt Groeninger and Cathedral (Ind.) attackman Kevin Berutich help headline what is an offensive-heavy haul.

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