Fall Snapshot: Cleveland State Vikings

(Photo Courtesy of Cleveland State 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: Andy German (Fourth season, 2020-Current)

Cleveland State 2022 Record: 3-10 (0-5 ASUN)

Key Departures: Jason Sullivan (A), Ryan Haigh (A)

Key Returners: Ryan Haigh (A), Adam Clark (A), Gannon Matthews (M), Karson Burkey (D), Reggie Regala (D), Cameron Logan (G)

Transfer Additions: N/A

The Cleveland State Vikings went 3-10 last spring, but were likely better than their record in many ways. The Vikings fell to Air Force 12-8 and Detroit Mercy 13-12 in consecutive weeks. They also came within four of both Bellarmine and Utah. The Vikings also fell to St. Bonaventure 11-10 and Mercer 11-9 in non-conference play.

Had a couple of those games gone the other way and the Vikings could have very well played the role of spoiler in the ASUN. And with a good chunk of young players in key spots as well.

Heading into the 2023 season, the Vikings return a decent amount of talent from a year ago, which includes many of those budding stars from last season. They will be looking to make their mark in year two of the ASUN, which has been expanded with Jacksonville, Queens, Lindenwood, and Mercer all joining.

Burning Questions

How Does The Young Talent Progress?

Of Cleveland State’s 10 double-digit point-getters from a year ago, three of them were freshmen. That included ASUN Freshman of The Year Gannon Matthews, who emerged as the Viking’s top midfielder with 34 points off 19 goals and 15 assists. Additionally, Amiri Austin (5G/6A) was an ASUN All-Rookie Selection with 11 points on the year while Michael Care tallied 10 points off three goals and five assists. Sophomore Gavin Held had 14 points off 12 goals and two assists.

Young talent wasn’t only exclusive to the offensive end of the field for this Vikings squad. Redshirt freshman Reggie Regala (22GB/8CT) and sophomore Zack Tower (7GB/4CT) combined for 14 starts at close last spring. Additionally, Evan Moskwa went  104-of-201 (51%) at the faceoff dot as a sophomore, serving as the Viking’s top option for a second consecutive season.

In 2023, many of those young players from last season will likely have increased roles. In those spots, how much growth will be seen and, in turn, will it help the Vikings push ahead this spring?

How Much Growth Can The Defense Grow?

Coming into last season, Cleveland State returned only three poles who had seen action in more than two contests at the college level. One of those three, Karson Burkey, heads into his senior year with the Vikings after being the team’s top producing pole last season with 17 ground balls and 10 caused turnovers. He played and started all but one game. Jacob Humphreys (9GB/1CT) returns for a fifth season while redshirt sophomore Reggie Regala (22GB/8CT) and junior Zack Tower (7GB/4CT) are also back.

Anchoring things in cage for the Vikings last season was Hartford transfer Cam Logan. Starting all 13 games, he made 167 saves with a 51.5% save percentage. He too returns.

On the year, the Cleveland State had the 49th scoring defense in college lacrosse as they allowed 12.62 goals per game. Against ASUN competition, the Vikings allowed an average of 14.8 goals per game. With as many pieces return, and given the newness of this unit a year ago, growth can be expected. But exactly how much growth this unit sees will only be seen as the season progresses.

Can The Vikings Clean Up The Turnovers?

Per LacrosseReference, the Vikings ranked 35th in offensive pacing, had a possession time of nearly 43.3 seconds. They were also nearly 50% when it came to time of possession. So there were some bright spots for this offense, which averaged 11.15 goals per game and often did work for those quick looks on cage.

However, the Vikings were also in the bottom half of college lacrosse when it came to turnovers with 222 total on the year. They averaged 17.07 per game. Cleaning things up in that area will be crucial and should very well help in the Vikings’ quest to get more wins in 2023.

Potential Breakout Player

Amiri Austin, Attack, Sophomore

Named to the ASUN All-Freshman team last spring, Austin put up five goals and six assists for 11 points. Five of those points came during the final two games of the season as he went 1-2 against Detroit Mercy and 1-1 against Robert Morris. Among the talented young players on this roster, Austin could potentially take pretty big step as a sophomore.

Freshman Class

With it’s 2022 recruiting efforts, Cleveland State brought in a 13-man freshman class.

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