(Photo Courtesy of Monmouth 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: Brian Fisher (10th Season, 2014-Current)
Monmouth 2022 Record: 5-7 (2-4 MAAC)
Key Departures: Garrett Klurman (SSDM), Noah Lode (G)
Key Returners: Connor Macrae (A), Cole Stratton (A), Matt Soutar (FO), Jack Gertie (LSM/D), Michael Quigg (D)
Transfer Additions: N/A
When the Monmouth Hawks take the field for the first time in 2023, they will be doing so for the 10th season in program history. During those nine previous seasons, Monmouth has won the MAAC and made the NCAA Tournament twice (2017, 2021).
The trajectory of this Monmouth program has emulated many other newer programs both in the MAAC and college lacrosse as a whole over the past decade or so. It was the Hawks fourth season in which they won the MAAC and they do so again four years later. After that 2021 season, which saw them play a MAAC only schedule, the Hawks dropped once more and had a losing record both overall and in league play. They missed the postseason this past spring.
Heading into its 10th season of play, Monmouth not only finds themselves looking to jump back up after a losing season but they also face a tough challenge as they move into a new conference: the CAA. They make the move along with Stony Brook and Hampton, who jump over from the America East and SoCon.
Who Starts In Cage?
For the past five seasons, Noah Lode has been the starting goalie for this Monmouth program. Lode has exhausted all of his eligibility following a season in which he made 160 saves with a 57.3% save percentage. He ends his career with the Hawks as the program’s all-time leader in career saves with 643 and the program’s leader in wins with 26. He also sits top the record books in single-game saves (17), second in single-season saves (176, 2018), and is third in career save percentage (55.3%).
Replacing a player the stature of Lode is going to be a tall task for this Monmouth program. It is the biggest and most important question surrounding this squad heading into the 2023 season for the Hawks.
As far as who could ultimately earn the starting nod, Monmouth has three goalies currently on its roster in junior Andrew Kuhlman, senior Perry Doran, and freshman Max Kunnath. Kuhlman is the only one of the three who has seen any game action as he played 19:44 minutes over three games as a backup last season. He made five saves with a 62.5% save percentage in that limited action.
Can The Offense Improve?
Being in arguably the most defensive-heavy conference for its first nine seasons of play, Monmouth has reflected many of the trends across the league. That includes having an offense that lacks in its explosiveness and overall productiveness. Only once (2018) has Monmouth averaged at least 10 goals per game. This past season, Monmouth was tied for the 69th in scoring offense (7.33 goals per game) and ranked last in the category amongst MAAC teams. They also ranked last in the league in points (11.50) and assists (4.17) goals per game.
From last year’s offense, the Hawks return each of its top-two scorers in senior attackman Connor Macrae (22G/25A) and Cade Stratton (9G/10A). Multi-year starters, the pair of attackmen should be the focal part of the Hawks’ offense once again. Luke Cole (7G/2A) and Nick Teets (5G/3A) earned conference All-Freshman honors last season and should provide more production in 2023.
As previously mentioned, Monmouth has only once averaged double-digit goals in its nine seasons of play. If the Hawks can improve their productivity on that end, and especially so with a reliable option at faceoff in Matt Soutar, things could possibly go better than expect sooner than expected for them in the CAA.
What’s The Ceiling For Monmouth in Year One in The CAA?
Speaking of the CAA, just where Monmouth will fit in the league’s seemingly ever-changing pecking order is another area of serious intrigue around this Monmouth program. The Hawks rose from winless to league champions in just four years in the MAAC and won another championship two years ago.
Is the CAA as upwardly mobile as the MAAC? No. But it is still a pretty wild league and with that it lends itself a myriad of unique scenarios every year. Of course, the CAA is a tougher league than what Monmouth has know – and that is even more true with the addition of Stony Brook. How exactly the Hawks hang with these other teams in year one will be very telling to not only where this programs ranks amongst its new league foes, but how far they might have to come to get back to the NCAA Tournament under these new circumstances.
Potential Breakout Player
Nick Teets, Attack, Sophomore
Starting each of the five final contests for the Hawks last season, Teets put up a combined three goals to help him finish the season with eight points (5G/3A). With the holes this offense has to fill, Teets looks to be a very good option who can make an impact immediately this spring.
Monmouth brings in a 15-man freshman class that features players from eight different states.