(Photo Courtesy of Queens 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: Chris Panos (Fifth Season, 2019-Current)
Queens 2022 Record: 12-5 (7-3 SAC)
Key Departures: Kealan Pilon (A), Tyler Ewen (A), Austin Leonard (M)
Key Returners: Jack Royer (A), Alex Alonso (FO), Jack O’Grady (LSM), Joey Szabo (SSDM), Colby Sugila (D), Will McNichols (D), William Powley (G)
Transfer Additions: Gage Turner (G, Randolph Macon)
Since beginning play in the South Atlantic Conference in 2014, the Queens Royals have won two Conference regular season titles (2014, 2015), and won the league tournament once (2014). The Royals also went to the NCAA Tournament twice during that span, doing so during its first year as an SAC member as well as in 2019.
After that growth this program has seen over the years during its DII era, which ended with a solid 2022 season in which the Royals went to the SAC title game, Queens, will be making that jump to the next level. The Royals will be one of two new DI members, along with Lindenwood, this spring. Both will play in the Atlantic Sun conference.
Due to its move, many eyes will be on Queens this season and how it fares will be an interesting storyline to track.
What Does The Offense Look Like?
From an offense that averaged 16 goals per game last spring, the Royals lose four of its top five scorers. That includes the Royals’ top two scorers in Kealen Pilon (56G/29A) and Tyler Ewen (52G/31A). Queens loses 178 points and 108 goals (39% of total offense) just between the two of them.
Sophomore attackman Jack Royer (31G/23A) and fifth-year midfielder Austin Leonard (27G/14A) are the only two returning top five point-getters from a year ago. Midfielders Adam Barry (19G/13A) and Hunter Meyer (20G/8A) return for their fifth and sophomore seasons after being the Royals’ sixth and seventh leading point-getters last spring.
Coming off their 2022 campaign, Queens loses a good amount of offensive production from its top playmakers. But the cupboard is not bare with a solid foundation back. However, how effective this next crop and who ultimately steps up will be the key thing to watch for with this unit.
What to Expect From The Lions’ First Season as a DI?
In the four seasons that Chris Panos has been the head coach of this Queens program, it has done nothing bit find success. That success has includes two conference championship game appearances and an NCAA tournament appearance in Panos’ first season.
2023 marks a new era for Queens lacrosse and how they perform in the immediate is very much a point of intrigue with this program. Join the ASUN, along with fellow DI newcomer Lindenwood, the Royals will be competing with the likes of Air Force, Bellarmine, Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, Jacksonville, Mercer, Robert Morris, and Utah.
How competitive Queens is within the ASUN, and especially against those teams outside the upper tier (Jacksonville, Utah, Robert Morris), will be very telling as to how quickly this program is adjusting to the DI level and how much success should be expected early in its new era.
What Does The Faceoff Success Look Like?
Last season, Queens deployed a strong one-two punch at the faceoff dot with Alex Alonso serving as the primary option and Jacob Martin taking on the primary backup role. Alonso went 327-563 (58%) and Martin went 59-for-93 (63%).
In 2023, Alonso returns for a fifth season while Martin is back as a junior. The duo was very strong last season and helped the Royals have the second best team faceoff success in its conference. Now a DI and in the ASUN, it’ll be interesting to see just how impactful that duo of Alonso and Martin will be. If they can create the kind of havoc as last season, things could possibly be looking pretty good for the Royals in 2023.
Potential Breakout Player
Ryan Lightsey, Attack, Sophomore
The Georgia native played in all 17 games and saw one start for Queens last season. He ended his freshman campaign with 13 goals and eight assists. He is one of multiple players who could see an increased role in the offense this spring.
Queens brings in a 15-man freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts.