There are several elite college lacrosse conferences. The ACC, full of the more typical lax schools, has each team over .500. The Ivy League has two dominant teams, three rather good teams, and two horrible teams. Both are extremely intriguing.
Both also have nothing on the Patriot League.
The conference, historically dominated by just two or three teams, is about as up in the air as possible heading late into the season. Army, Navy, and Loyola have clinched. Lehigh, Boston University, and Bucknell are the likely other seeds. Even the teams at the top have had strange seasons, however, and whoever makes the conference tournament has a chance to win.
Colgate suffered the most out of every conference team that lost top players going into this season and it has shown. The Raiders are 1-5 in Patriot League play with the losses of Ryan Walsh and Matt Clarkson. Colgate's loss to Navy is one of the few things that made any sense in the conference, as the Midshipmen and Loyola were able to clinch playoff berths with the Colgate loss.
Meanwhile, after another torrid start, Boston University has fallen off for the second straight season. It's not quite the six game losing streak collapse that we saw last year, but falling to 3-3 in conference play with a blowout loss to Army did not help the Terriers' cause. BU defeated Navy early on this season, becoming an in-conference threat. However, losses to Bucknell, Army, and Lehigh in three straight weeks have set the Terriers back yet again. BU recovered from early season injuries and looked to have incredible depth, but now Brendan Homire is injured and several players in the top midfield unit have struggled to find the back of the net.
Lehigh lost maybe more than any other team going into the season, with Dan Taylor, Matt Poillon, and Patrick Corbett gone. However, the Mountain Hawks have found surprising success, with a 4-3 Patriot League record and finding wins over conference teams despite some tough losses as well. Winning at Boston University over a week ago gave the Mountain Hawks the momentum they needed for the conference tournament.
Army has also been impressive, finding a way back into the rankings this week at #20 following the BU win. Despite John Glesener being gone, Cole Johnson is having a career season, and freshman Nate Jones has become a top goal scorer. The Black Knights were the first team to clinch a spot in the conference playoffs, and have been ranked as high as #15 this season.
At 7-4, Bucknell has improved its conference record to 3-3 to be tied with 8-4 Boston University. The Bison have quietly been a dangerous team, being an outlier to the rankings and even sneaking in a few times. They also knocked off Army this season, giving it its only conference loss. Sophomore Will Sands leads the team with 42 points, but overall the scoring has been spread out, making the Bison a dark horse in the Patriot League.
Navy suffered the loss at Boston University, but is now 6-1 in conference play, 8-2 overall, and ranked tenth in the nation. The Midshipmen were one of the sleeper picks to be a team to make a post season run nationally, and since the loss at Nickerson Field, Navy has been unstoppable. The only other loss suffered all season was in double overtime to Johns Hopkins, but since then, Navy has topped every other team in the conference, except Army, of which they are yet to play.
The reason BU and Bucknell should be set to make the conference playoffs despite the losses is because there are three teams that have been absolutely dreadful. Colgate and Holy Cross are both 1-5 in conference play while Lafayette is winless, with two wins out of conference all year.
We have a good idea of who we will see in the Patriot League tournament in late April. We know who the six teams are, but we might not know who the six teams are yet. They are all finding their identities and have flaws of their own, which has made the conference absolutely the most intriguing in a college lacrosse season still full of mystery.