So the 2016 season has been over for four weeks, and we still miss it. So as Eri is taking a look at each individual team(god rest his soul), I'll be taking a smaller look at each team.
Yesterday, I took at look at the Big Ten. Today, our series concludes with the ACC. BRING 'EM OUT!
Virginia stunk, but got better in the offseason. But as much as it was a "down" year overall in the conference, North Carolina won it all! LOL @ all you critics! Let's dive in to my neck of the woods.
The Good: You got the first of four #1 incoming freshmen in Ryan Conrad and also return eight of your top 10 scorers, including juniors Ryan Lukacovic, Zed Williams, who was an Honorable Mention All-American, and AJ Fish. LSM Michael Howard was also an Honorable Mention AA. Plus, BOSS Lars Tiffany comes in at Brown. His staff is TBD. You had a great win against Johns Hopkins in overtime as your big win this year.
The Bad: You had a really bad year, going 7-8 and not winning an ACC game yet again. Old BOSS Dom Starsia had an ugly exit, and you also had bad losses to High Point and Cornell, along with one goal defeats to Syracuse and Notre Dame. James Pannell and Greg Coholan both graduate as well.
The Future: With the addition of Tiffany, it's pretty bright. As said above, another top-ranked recruit comes to Charlottesville. This time, it's Haverford School midfielder and USA U-19 selection Dox Aitken, who will accompany fellow Ford midfielder Luke Desperito. He'll be joined by four Under Armour All-Americans. You'll get a pair of LSM/defensemen in Jared Conners (Pittsford) and Jack Reilly (Conestoga), along with Taft attackman Michael Kraus and Lawrenceville midfielder Wade Maloney, who will join teammate Griffin Thompson, a goaltender. Other top recruits include midfielders Milan Murray (Thayer Academy) and Sam Offutt (Gonzaga), Deerfield FOGO Luke Brugel, and St. Paul's attack/midfielder Mitch Gordon.
The Good: You made the ACC Championship game again, but fell to Syracuse. You had nice wins over Loyola, Syracuse, Virginia, and Notre Dame in 2016. Senior midfielders Myles Jones and Deemer Class were First Team All-Americans, while sophomore attackman Justin Guterding and junior FOGO Kyle Rowe were Honorable Mentions. Guterding led you guys with 71 points, while Jones had 70 points but led the team with 37 assists. Class led the team with 50 goals. Jack Bruckner, Case Matheis, and Chad Cohan were other key contributors, and Danny Fowler improved in the cage.
The Bad: You were picked to be a Championship Weekend team and had very high expectations. But with the 11-8 record and First Round exit against Loyola, it never happened. You lost to Harvard, Richmond, Air Force in very questionable losses, while Denver, UNC, and Notre Dame were heartbreakers for you guys. Jones, Class, Matheis, and Cohan all graduate, leaving big holes on offense.
The Future: Sean Cerrone comes in from Villanova as a junior midfielder, so that should fill a spot in the starting midfield. Other than Cerrone, there's six big name recruits coming to Durham next year. Georgetown Prep midfielder Terry Lindsay is on the USA U-19 team, while you'll also have four Under Armour All-Americans. Brunswick attack/midfielder Reilly Walsh is one of the biggest recruits in the 2016 class, and might play a pivotal role next year. St. Joseph Regional LSM/defenseman J.T. Giles-Harris is getting a lot of traction, and will join Cade Van Raaphorst as young defensemen on the Blue Devils. Other AAs include Westminster FOGO Brian Smyth and Ridge midfielder Kevin Quigley. And don't forget the addition of 2015 Under Armour All-American attackman Joey Manown, who spent last season as a postgrad at Deerfield.
The Good: Well, you're my boys, and were named the Most Lit Team of the Year! And you won the ACC Tournament for the second straight year in a row over Duke! You reloaded again with talent, as we saw UMass transfer Nick Mariano lead the team with 35 goals en route to a Second Team All-American. Joining him on that list was fellow junior midfielder Sergio Salcido, who finished second on the team with 53 points, along with FOGO Ben Williams and defenseman Brandon Mullins. Dylan Donahue had a team-high 61 points and was a First Team All-American selection at attack. Freshmen Nick Mellen and Nate Solomon made big impacts this season, and Evan Molloy took over in net midway through and led the Orange to win seven of their final nine games. You also beat Albany and UNC twice.
AND WHEN I SAW WE WERE THE MOST LIT TEAM, WE WERE THE MOST LIT TEAM! PEEP THE DAB AND JOE GILLIS!
The Bad: That stretch of three straight losses and losing four of five from mid-March to mid-April hurt your season. You gave up leads to Johns Hopkins, Duke, and Cornell and lost in overtime on the road. You also got blown out at home by Notre Dame. Warren Hill wasn't the goalie that Cuse was looking for, and Molloy took the reins. Then in the Tournament, the defense struggled, including the season ending loss to Maryland. Donahue, Tim Barber, Mullins, Jay McDermott, Tom Grimm, and Hill all leave.
The Future: So far, there's two confirmed transfers in former Hopkins and Bronxville attackman Henry Grass and current USA U-19 goalie and former Ohio State keeper Willie Klan. A pair of Under Armour All-Americans come to "The Hill" in Victor midfielder Jamie Trimboli and Boys' Latin attackman Logan Wisnauskas, who reunites with former Laker Devin Shewell. Other top recruits include Ridgefield midfielder Peter Dearth, the brother of current Boston University midfielder Cal Dearth, and Half Hollow Hills East defenseman Nick DiPietro. Other notables include New Canaan attackman Clayton Burt, Smithtown West FOGO Danny Varello, Ridgewood LSM/defenseman Brett Kennedy, and IMG Academy goaltender Drake Porter.
The Good: You were one of the best teams for most of the regular season, starting the year 4-0 and winning nine of your first 10 games. You beat Maryland, Virginia, Syracuse, Duke, and Marquette during that dominant stretch. Sergio Perkovic had only 26 goals and 30 points, both career-lows, but was still a First Team All-American, along with senior defenseman Matt Landis, who was the best at his position for the second straight season. Matt Kavanagh ends his Notre Dame career with a team-high 29 assists and 50 points as a Second Team All-American, while LSM John Sexton joined Kavanagh as a Second Teamer. Junior goalie Shane Doss was a Third Team choice, while attackmen Mikey Wynne and freshman Ryder Garnsey showed Irish fans the future at the attack position.
The Bad: You finished the season 2-3, including back-to-back losses against UNC and Duke, before losing to UNC once again in the NCAA Quarterfinals. Did you peak too early? Probably. Kavanagh, Landis, defenseman Edwin Glazener, Trevor Brosco, Eddy Lubowicki, and Kyle Trolley all graduate.
The Future: There's a ton of spots that are open, and you'll have to fill them if you want to be on the level that you were at for the past two years. Mount St. Joseph midfielder Brian Costabile is on the USA U-19 team, and will join a pair of Under Armour All-Americans in Choate attackman Brian Willetts and Delbarton LSM/defenseman Jack Kielty. Willetts will join fellow teammate and attackman Stephen Chase in South Bend. Other top recruits include Culver defenseman Jacob Kanak, Arapahoe LSM/defenseman Charlie Leonard, and Chaminade goaltender Jack Zullo. Other notables are all from Southeastern PA, including Haverford School midfielder Tommy McNamara, Hun School and former Radnor defenseman Mike Farnish, St. Joe's Prep attackman and midfielder Peter Gayhardt (who's tall), and Episcopal Academy defenseman Matt Blommer.
NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS (12-6) - Lost in ACC Tournament Semifinals to Syracuse; Defeated Marquette in NCAA First Round; Defeated Notre Dame in NCAA Quarterfinal; Defeated Loyola in NCAA Semifinal; Defeated Maryland in overtime in NCAA Championship - NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!
The Good: YOU WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP! FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1991 AND BROKE THE CURSE OF 1993! I'll say some more, such as you had great wins over Johns Hopkins, Duke, Virginia, and Notre Dame twice, along with everyone you beat to win the National Championship (Marquette, ND, Loyola, and Maryland). Senior short-stick d-middie Jake Matthai was a Second Team All-American, junior defenseman Austin Pifani was a Third Team selection, and seniors Steve Pontrello, Patrick Kelly, and junior Michael Tagliaferri were all Honorable Mentions. Pontrello led UNC with 49 goals and 70 points. But we should be ashamed if we don't mention NCAA Tournament GOAT Chris Cloutier, who PUT THE TEAM ON HIS BACK in the month of May! I wonder how Kieran Burke was feeling...
The Bad: There's nothing bad to really say when you won it all. But I'm obligated to say something bad. You weren't that dominant throughout the season (but you were hot when you had to be, so that's all that matters!). Weird losses to Hofstra and UMass along the way were head scratchers, along with close losses to Denver in overtime, Maryland, and twice to Syracuse. At least you didn't have to play us again! Pontrello, Patrick Kelly, Matthai, and defenseman Evan Connell all graduate.
The Future: No Kellys from Calvert Hall this year! Instead, you'll have Greenwich midfielder Will Perry, an Under Armour All-American. Another player worthy of AA honors is Boys' Latin goaltender Jack Pezzulla, who instead will be on the USA U-19 team. Other top recruits include attackmen Michael Guerin (Westminster) and Matt Gavin (Manhasset AKA 'Set Nation), Vandegrift FOGO Blake Tyndall, and Salesianum LSM/defenseman Patrick Lyons. Other notables include Governor's Academy LSM Cam Macri, Dallas Jesuit attack/middie Zach Kissick, and Avon Grove midfielder Beau Kush.
Oh and we are definitely going out in style!