As part of our offseason we are doing an early 2017 scouting report on every D1 team. The kid Jayskrem is also doing a great series called The Good, The Bad, & the Future; his last few posts were on the CAA, the Patriot League, and the Big East. You should definitely check them out.
Profile: Shout out to the River Hawks! In only their second year as a D1 program, UMass Lowell quadrupled its win total from 2015 and were 2 OT losses away from going 6-10. BOSS Stephenson has done a great job leveraging his talent-rich state to fill his roster with Mass. BALLERS (17 players on the 2016 roster are from MA, nearly half the roster).
Massachusetts is one of the most fertile hotbeds in the nation and there aren't enough D1 spots within the state for all of them; there's even fewer state school options if a MA. BALLER wants to stay close to home and save some money on tuition. This lack of space for all of the state's talent allowed the River Hawks to field a roster that's pretty good in a short period of time, as they provide an appealing option for in-state talent.
2016 Record: 4-12 overall, 0-6 in conference. I know I always say "there are not moral victories in lacrosse," but even I can see that 2016 was a successful year for the program. Additionally, UMass Lowell lost 3 conference games (Hartford, UMBC, & Vermont) by a combined 4 points, with 2 of those Ls coming in OT, so they were actually quite competitive with some of the conference leaders. Losing is losing, but that's certainly progress from a 1 win inaugural season last year.
UMass Lowell was much more effective and productive on the field in 2016 than they were in 2015. The River Hawks scored nearly 2 more goals/game, held their opponents to nearly 3.3 less goals/game, were more accurate with shots on goal, and scooped up 100 more GBs in 2016 than 2015. This is evidence of a team that is crisper, more efficient, and better prepared than they were in their first year, and I believe that progress will continue in 2017.
Roster: UMass Lowell had only 2 seniors on its roster last year, Kyle Strong and Christopher Litchfield. Both played a good amount of time, especially Litchfield, but for the most part the team is only going to lose 10 points combined from the 2016 team.
UMass Lowell will have rising juniors Sean Tyrrell, Keenan Koswin, and Matthew Balter back next year, which is great news for River Hawks fans. Tyrell was very good last season, as he led the team in assists and points (18 As & 38 PTs), and was tied for goals scored with Balter (20 Gs).
Koswin played more of a distributor role last year, but was still effective on the offensive end as he finished with 9 Gs & 17 As for second on the team in points (26 PTs). With those three returning players, and hopefully another quality class coming in the fall, we could see UMass Lowell take another step towards .500 or better in 2017.
Conference: .The America East is a tough place to play. Albany isn't going anywhere, and Stony Brook looks like it is going to vie for the conference lead for the next several years. The one good thing for UMass Lowell is that Hartford, Binghamton, & Vermont either replaced their head coach (Hartford) or are still in the process of replacing their former BOSS (Binghamton and Vermont).
Hartford, Binghamton, & Vermont finished ahead of the River Hawks in 2016, and while all three may bounce back with better seasons next year, having a summer of relative stability is an advantage for UMass Lowell. While their competitors are regrouping, the River Hawks won't have to expend time and energy forming a new identity this summer and can focus on fall ball.
What are they doing this summer: Lots of recruiting news. The River Hawks have Tweeted out the names/stats of 10 incoming freshman on their Twitter account in the last couple weeks.
Additionally, lots of carb loading.
2017 Outlook: This might be a bit of a #HotTake, but I think UMass Lowell is going to be over .500 next year and in the America East tournament.
Non-Sequitor: "UMass Lowell is known for having one of the highest returns on investment (ROI) in the country for its graduates. Forbes ranked UMass Lowell as the 10th best value amongst all universities and colleges nationwide for 2013 and fourth best value among non-military academies."