We look at the CAA in today's preview. Let's meet our teams!
|Team||2015 Overall Record||2015 Conf. Record||2016 Preseason Top 20 Rank (USILA)|
(Italicized = #TheBigBBQ2015 participant.)
Teams to keep an eye on.
- Towson: I think that "5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ... DOWN GOES JOHNS HOPKINS!!" call will stay with me until the moment I expire. What everyone thought was a huge upset, turned out to just be the appetizer to a great 2015 for the Tigers. Indeed, Towson also beat Georgetown last year and was ranked in the top 20 throughout 2015. After winning the CAA AQ, Towson then beat Southern Conference champ High Point for their first tournament win since 2003. The Tigers then proceeded to give Irish fans across the Nation heart palpitations when they took a 6-5 lead into halftime against top-seeded Notre Dame in the first weekend of the tournament last May.
Towson ended up losing to the Irish in a very feisty 12-10 final, but it was clear the Tigers were an impressive lot. Towson was picked to repeat as CAA champ in 2016, and seems primed for another good year. Moreover, with a schedule that includes several top 20 teams, the Tigers might even make some at-large noise if they can get a couple big wins before their conference stretch.
- Fairfield: The Stags were lowkey a squad you didn't want to play last year. A 2-4 start masked the fact that Fairfield's first four losses were by a combined 4 points, including one in OT to Yale.
The Stags then won 7 of their last 8, captured the CAA regular season title, and hosted the CAA Tournament, before a stunning first round upset to UMass cut short what looked like a very special season. Led by 2015 First Team All-CAA and 2016 Preseason All-CAA selection, senior TJ Neubauer, Fairfield should once again challenge Towson for CAA supremacy.
- Drexel: The Dragons, like Fairfield, didn't get out the gates too well last year. A challenging early non-conference schedule that included Albany, Virginia, and Maryland, was partially responsible for Drexel's 0-4 start in 2015. However, the Dragons turned around their season and made the CAA tournament with a big end of the regular season win against Towson.
Though Drexel lost to the Tigers in the first round of the CAA Tournament, the Dragons demonstrated a lot of grit in winning 7 of their last 10 2015 regular season games. With a little more consistency, the Dragons could make some noise in the CAA this season.
- Sam Llinares, Hofstra: The Haupppauge, NY native was kind of a big deal in 2015. Sam was the 2015 CAA Player of the year and finished 34th in the country in goals per game. A problem for any defense, Llinares led the CAA in regular season goals with 33. Sam will need to pour it on even more this year if Hofstra is to get back to #TheBigBBQ for the first time since 2011.
- Tyler White, Towson: The red-shirt junior was a major reason for Towson's big year in 2015. White finished the season 9th in the nation in saves percentage and was the CAA Defensive Player of the year in 2015. The Elmira Heights, NY product was named 2nd team USILA All-American in 2015 and goes into 2016 as the leader of one of the best defenses in D1. The Tigers will need his steady play in net if they are to repeat as CAA champs this year.
- Joe Seider, Towson: As an All-CAA First Team member and 2015's CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Joe had a breakout sophomore campaign. Seider's 34 tallies last year were the most by any Tiger since 2011. Along with fellow Tigers Ryan Drenner and Spencer Parks, Joe will need to up his game in 2016 for Towson to retain the CAA crown.
- Cole Shafer, Drexel: Straight out of Coquitlam, British Columbia, Shafer broke out in a big way in 2015. Cole was named Second Team All-CAA last year and is Drexel's most potent returning starter in 2016.
Official College Crosse Conference Prediction: Towson.
- In four short seasons, Coach Shawn Nadelen quickly returned Towson to the national scene. Indeed the Tigers were one of the toughest teams in 2015 and had the 7th best scoring defense last year (giving up a shade over 7 goals per game). Towson has a strong lineup and veteran leadership on offense and defense. Everything is in place for another big year in the CAA and I wouldn't be surprised if Towson makes an appearance in all the top 10 polls should they get off to a good start in 2016.
Well, that's it for today. Thanks for reading. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Additionally, check back this week for our America East preview.