Days of Future Past.
All right, all right, all right. My media poll post is good and fun because I’m privileged enough to be a voter in that poll and it’s an opportunity to talk about the best teams in D1 (even if I think polls this early are pretty pointless).
However, the movie doesn’t end there. Plenty of awesome lacrosse takes place beyond the ivory tower of the top 20. We’re only a week (or two, depending on how you count) into the season, but still there are some things that have caught my attention. When I’m not angering people with hypothetical #GrowTheGame ideas that get grossly misinterpreted as an attack on other sports, here’s what I’ve been thinking about. (Eri Ed. Note: Words hurt!)
Patriot League Love.
The Patriot League is the Donner Party of D1 Men’s lacrosse. They have a long, arduous conference schedule and they end up cannibalizing each other’s post-season hopes every year.
In my Patriot League preview I struggled among the top four teams in the conference this year. Well, based on what’s happened already during this nubile season 7 out of the 9 teams could win the conference title and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Boston University: The Terriers are 3-0 and are looking very good. They gutted out a win at High Point and showed some tenacity against in-state rival UMass Lowell, coming back from a 4-1 deficit at half for an 8-5 win. For such a young team, this is a very promising start. Don’t be surprised if BU shows up in the top 20 this season.
Bucknell: The other BU has fared better in 2016 than expected. Well, that’s mostly because I had no idea what to expect. I thought losing their starting goalie and an MLL caliber midfielder/attackman would put a major dent in this Bison team. But they’re 2-0 already and showing a lot of balance on offense, having smoked Delaware, and staving off a late rally by Bryant (a tourney team last year). The next three weeks should tell us a lot about Bucknell with @Fairfield, @Colgate, and Navy on the docket.
Lehigh: A bit more accurate shooting overall, or an extra 5 minutes of game time and Lehigh might have taken Duke. The "it’s ok for Duke to lose early" narrative is a bit trite at this point though. As a colleague correctly pointed out recently, that theory only worked in 2010 and 2013. If they don’t win, the theory doesn’t hold water. But Tristan Rai and Reid Weber might just prove to be quality replacements for the Canadian duo of Dan Taylor and Patrick Corbett.
Non-Patriot League Happenings.
Stony Brook: Like many, I was eagerly awaiting the Seawolves debut and they didn’t disappoint. Brody Eastwood picked up right where he left off last year, notching six goals in the game. But the part of his stat line that jumped out at me was his three assists. The crafty Canuck had six assists during the entire 2015 season. He’s at the halfway point to matching those numbers already after one game. Eastwood is a goal scorer, a grip-and-rip guy, but if he continues to add helpers, even if its only 12-15 on the season he’s going to be even more dangerous.
Vermont: Anyone who read the Ten Man Ride (RIP) last year knows of my obsession with Canadian players. Vermont has a very dynamic pair in Ian MacKay and Cam Milligan. Poking fun at MacKay’s shooting percentage was low hanging fruit, but the Catamounts are a scoring machine this year. UVM doesn’t have a super difficult schedule this year so it will be interesting to see if this trend continues or not.
Jacksonville: The Dolphins served the Catamounts a 17-16 loss to open the season and pushed back a late comeback Thursday afternoon in Jamaica, Queens from the St. John’s Red Storm. This is even more impressive because two of Jacksonville’s top scorers from last year, Tom Moore and Chase McIntyre, weren't in the lineup again on Thursday against the Johnnies. The 2-1 Fins should be a tough out in the SoCon this year.
Michigan: I listened to the new In Your Face podcast (in addition to the #CollegeCrosseCast, of course) and when former Michigan offensive coordinator Ryan Denahy talked about the Wolverines potential I found myself just sitting and nodding in agreement. These are the same things that I’ve been saying since day one, and not just because I’m a huge Michigan fan. There’s an athletic department with deep pockets and generous donors in Ann Arbor so it was never a question of if the Wolverines will be good, but when.
Remember, Big Blue took their dominant club team and threw them to the D1 fire over night. This year, Team 5, is the first roster of all recruited players. You don’t need to look far to see new programs making a splash: Marquette, Richmond, High Point, Boston. None of these teams are pushovers as young programs. It would be fair at this point to hit reset on the expectations clock for Michigan. Mark my words the Wolverines will be more than knocking on the door of the top 20 in the next 3-5 years, if not sooner.
Here’s to the upstart programs that are rocking in their proverbial cradles. Keep up the good work lads.