Let's meet our teams!
|Team||2015 Overall Record||2015 Conf. Record||2016 Preseason Top 20 (USILA)|
(Italicized = #TheBigBBQ2015 participant.)
When we last saw our Patriot League protagonists, Colgate bounced Army in the league championship, earning the Raiders an invite to the Big BBQ. Colgate's trip to the dance was short-lived as they lost to UNC in the first round of the tournament.
Recently, six Patriot League players were selected in the recent MLL draft. A cursory glance as those slated for the next level might lead some to fix Loyola firmly atop the Patriot League heap. Last year, on paper at least, the Greyhounds were a better team than their 7-8 record, but consistency proved to be an issue. Has Charley Toomey worked all the kinks out for 2016?
Navy was a major surprise in 2015, finishing atop the league table after being slated in 5th place in the preseason league poll. Well no one in the league is sleeping on the Mids after last year.
Of course, it’s negligent to omit Army in the discussion. The Black Knights’ defense has been as stout and consistent as Easy Company at the Battle of Bastogne in recent years. (If you haven’t seen "Band of Brothers" and don’t get that reference then shame on you. SHAME!)
Let’s chip away at the stone a bit more and take a quick look at each team to see what’s in store for the biggest and one of the most exciting leagues in college lacrosse.
John Glesener has taken his talents to the Boston Cannons and won’t be torching plebes in practice or opponents on game days anymore. Can the Black Knights replace his howitzer on the offensive end? Connor Cook (the pint sized attackman, not the Spartan QB with a chip on his shoulder) will have to pick up the slack at that end of the field. Army got snake bitten a few times last year. Avoiding that in 2016 might just earn the men from West Point a chance to dance.
Is there anyone who gets up more than Bucknell’s play-by-play man? If you have the chance to listen to a Bucknell home game, do so. Dude is like Gus Johnson turned up to eleven. But David Dickson, the heart of the Bison offense is gone, as is Sam Grinberg who backstopped the defense with aplomb. Sean Doyle returns for his senior season at attack though, and sophomore Will Sands, who was a top 100 recruit last year should take a step forward in 2016 after a solid rookie campaign.
There’s a lot to like about the Terriers, and I’m not just talking about attackman Jackie Wilson. Seriously, if there was ever someone who screamed for a post-goal song, it’s this kid. Forget all this modern music. Style points say it’s gotta be "Higher and Higher" by, yes… Jackie Wilson.
As Ryan Polley’s squad hits year three some real weapons have emerged. Cal Dearth is anything but in the midfield, and Sam Talkow was one of the best faceoff men in the league last year. Ryan Hilburn is an outdoor-ablution-facility-constructed-of-brick, and should be fun to watch. Goalie Christian Carson-Banister impressed me last year, and a major step forward for him wouldn’t be surprising.
Loyola dominated the Patriot League ever since they joined, well until last year when Navy and Colgate finished with league-best 6-2 records, and the Raiders won the league bid to the post-season. There’s got to be something comforting with having a Burke in net. Junior netminder Brandon Burke is keeping the family tradition alive at in Hamilton this year. After a stellar 2015 run, expect more of the same from the youngest Burke brother.
Remember when Colgate had both Peter Baum and Ryan Walsh on attack? Baum is long gone, but Walsh wrapped up his collegiate career last year. One has to wonder if any of the guys waiting in the wings are prepared to carry the offensive weight or will the team have to initiate more from the midfield, with guys like Cameron Williams?
The Crusaders were the feel-good, Cinderella story for the first month or so of the season last year, but the team was plagued with inconsistent play as the season wore on. Where the men from Worcester were an upset special in the early going, knocking off ranked Loyola and Army, the Crusaders just couldn't keep it going for the long haul.
Still, diminutive attackman Sean Wilkinson is a grinder and has a nose for the net. Look for freshman faceoff specialist Broderick Vitale to make an impact. Vitale was the drawman for Colorado state champion Cherry Creek High School, and came out of the LXTC system, run by the University of Denver coaching staff.
I want to say nice things about Lafayette, but it’s just difficult to find positives sometimes. For example, watching their game against Navy last year was downright painful. But then again, their first half against Loyola was as good as they looked all year, at least until the wheels came off in the second half.
If the Leopards can improve on their conference record and get a few extra non-conference wins (and their non-con schedule is favorable in that regard) the team might have some momentum going into 2016. Chin up Leopards fans. It can only get better.
Gone are Dan Taylor, Patrick Corbett, and Matt Poillon. If you don’t think those are some major shoes to fill you haven’t been paying attention for the past few years. The Mountain Hawks are a huge question mark in my book. They could go forward, backward, or tread water and I wouldn’t be surprised. A total head scratcher, and I don’t expect too much clarity until mid-March.
It’s always a challenge to write about Loyola because my computer always tried to autocorrect to Loyola University Chicago, which is one of my alma maters. Finding things to say about the Loyola Maryland lacrosse program is easy though. The Greyhounds have one of the most exciting pure goal scorers in college lacrosse patrolling the crease in the form of shifty Canadian Zach Herreweyers. His countryman, Tyler Albrecht provides punch in the midfield and let’s not forget yet another Canuck, LSM Ryan Fournier and his ability to push transition.
The boys in green shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring this year, with stealth bomber Romar Dennis, and Brian Sherlock providing a midfield salvo of rubber. Grant Limone is back in the cage for the Hounds and will no doubt want to prove that 7-8 was a fluke in 2015.
There are three things I want to see from Navy this year. 1. More great goal "cellys"* as the kids call them. 2. Jack Ray to make the leap to the Ian Dingman/Will Yeatman/Tim Goettelmann type player he could be. (Hey kids! If you don't know any of those names then do yourself a favor and look them up. Get educated!) 3. Even better production from Brady Dove at the faceoff dot. Kid had a monster year as a sophomore, but I want more.
(*Ed. Note: The PEOPLE'S Elbow!)
Official College Crosse Conference Prediction:
8. Holy Cross.