(Photo Courtesy of Delaware Athletics)
The CAA enters a bit of a new era in 2023 with Stony Brook, Monmouth, and Hampton all joining the conference. On the flip side, UMass has left the league.
Delaware comes into the season as the reigning champion and likely favorite to come out on top once more. Towson was the runner-up in 2022 and could also be back in the title game picture, as well as the likes of Drexel, Hofstra, and newcomer Stony Brook.
Each of the past four full season have yielded four different champions for the CAA. So, as always, expect to see some craziness from what is often the craziest league in college lacrosse.
Can Delaware Repeat?
The 2022 season saw the Delaware have its best season in over a decade as the Blue Hens went 13-5, 3-2 in CAA play, and won the league for the first time since 2011. The Blue Hens’ season ended with a loss to Cornell in the NCAA Quarterfinals, marking the program’s deepest postseason runs since its Championship Weekend trip in 2007. The Blue Hens upset No. 2 seed Georgetown in the first round after routing Robert Morris in the play-in game.
From that squad a year ago, the Blue Hens return a heap of talent on both ends of the field. Among those returners are attackmen JP Ward (40G/32A), Mike Robinson (53G/15A), and Tye Kurtz (52G/15A), as well as midfielders Clay Miller (28G/12A) and Drew Lenkaitis (13G/12A). And on the back end, Owen Grant leads the way out in front while Matt Kilkeary anchors things in between the pipes. The veteran duo lead what could be a top 20 defense once again this spring.
Delaware put together one of its best seasons in school history last season and returns from that squad nearly all of its talent. With that, the Blue Hens are certainly talented enough to repeat as CAA champs and many will be looking for them to do just that.
Towson Back on Top?
Towson got back on track last spring, making the CAA tournament and advancing to the title game for the first time since 2019. Now, Shawn Nadelen’s squad will be looking to improve upon that season and go even further in 2023.
Towson returns a deep and veteran-led offense with Nick DeMaio (36G/9A) and Kyle Berkeley (25G/18A) as the headlining returnees. Ryan Swain (9G/5A) and Alex Reid (9G/2A), among others, are back as well. On top of that, Matt Constantinides returns at the faceoff dot after a stellar freshman season in which he went 147-323 (45.5%) overall and 48% against CAA competition.
Filling the hole left in cage by the graduation of Shane Brennan and replacing its top pole in Koby Smith will be challenges of this Towson defense. However, Garrett Zungailia, Colby Barsz, and others return to create a possibly deep rotation of poles. Reece Potter is a leading returner at the SSDM spot.
Who Creates The Chaos?
The CAA is often referred to as the craziest conference in college lacrosse. And that has been especially true in recent years with four different programs winning the title each of the past four full seasons. The parity is real across the league each and every season.
As always, expect the CAA to feature some chaos both in the regular season and the postseason. But which team’s will bring the Chaos is the question. For that possible answer, look towards the middle of the pack (if there is one). That would likely include Fairfield, Hofstra, Drexel, and possibly newcomer Stony Brook. All will be looking to make significant noise this season while the Blue Hens are looking to stay on top and Towson is looking to overtake that spot in which they sat for a time in the 2010s.
Watch the CAA and watch it closely. Because come mid-April, there will have been things transpire in this league that many may have thought impossible in February.
Delaware featured an offense last season that averaged 13.42 goals per game (20th in DI). That unit also ranked 16th in team shooting percentage (31.6%) and was 21st in overall points per game (21.26). From that unit, the Blue Hens return nearly all its talent.
The Blue Hens’ heralded attack unit of JP Ward (40G/32A), Mike Robinson (53G/15A), and Tye Kurtz (52G/15A) are all back to headline the returners on that end. Midfielders Clay Miller (28G/12A) and Drew Lenkaitis (13G/12A) are also back.
In addition to those headlining returnees on that end, the Blue Hens returns a plethora of secondary or role players from a year ago who could very well step up and fill some of the holes this unit does have. That includes Cam Acchione (11G/7A) and Nick Jessen (7G/8A), who combined for 15 starts last season.
The Blue Hens ended the season as the 19th-best scoring defense as they allowed 10.79 goals per game. And from that strong unit last season, Ben DeLuca’s squad returns nearly all of its key contributors.
Headlining Delaware’s returnees on the back end is two-time reigning CAA Defensive Player of The Year Owen Grant and goalie Matt Kilkeary. The duo proved to be very strong last season, and especially so down the stretch as the pair helped guide the Blue Hens to the NCAA Quarterfinals. Poles such as Reed Kurtz, Kevin Lynch, and others are also returning on the back end to give this Blue Hens’ squad a deep unit to pull from.
With the Blue Hens returning as much as they do from last season’s defense, things could very well get even better on that end of the field. And especially so if they can stay as consistent throughout the season.
Offensive Player of The Year: Dylan Pallonetti, A, Stony Brook
Defensive Player of The Year: Owen Grant, D, Delaware
Specialist of The Year: Matt Kilkeary, G, Delaware
Projected Final Standings
5. Stony Brook