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Philly Phour Phocus: We’re Still Here

Just a Philly kid (who’s reviving this series of posts) covering Philly teams.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Did you know that the 2017 season has started? Did you know that no Philly teams have played yet, but some will beginning this week? We need some feel good music!

Welcome to the season two premiere of the Philly Phour Phocus, which continues to be properly spelled for the occasion. In case you’ve decided to follow along this year, we're following all four Philly teams throughout the season, and updating their chances of repping the great city in this year's Final Four. This next part is usually letting people know that the Final Four is in Philly, but since it’s in Foxborough, there’s no need for that anymore.

Last year, all Philly teams didn’t make it to the NCAA Tournament, and St. Joe’s choked again in the NEC championship. So what’s the starting point for our four teams? To the Big Board we go! This week's Philly Phour Phocus Big Board is sponsored by Manayunk. Manayunk: Have fun shoveling up that snow and driving on that hill!

Philly Phour Phocus Big Board 2017 Season Preview

Team 2016 Overall Record 2016 Conference Record First Game
Team 2016 Overall Record 2016 Conference Record First Game
Drexel 6-9 (nice) 2-3 (4th in CAA) Sat. 1/18 @ Virginia
Penn 8-7 4-2 (3rd in Ivy) Sat. 1/18 @ St. Joe's
St. Joe's 12-4 5-1 (1st in NEC) Tues. vs. Maryland
Villanova 9-5 3-2 (3rd in Big East) Sat. vs. Monmouth

Drexel

The Dragons hope to improve from last year’s 6-9 record, which included an appearance in the CAA Tournament against Towson. They return six of their top seven scorers from a year ago, including starting attackmen Robert Frazee and Cole Shafer. The biggest loss for Drexel is an injury to last year’s top point-scorer Matthew Varian. The sophomore injured his knee during Fall Ball and won’t play in 2017. He’ll still have three years of eligibility remaining. The defense is a question, as the only returning starter from a year ago is Jake Kiernan, although he suffered an injury in the fall as well, but should be ready to go to start the season. Look for Michael Meurer, Matt Klinges, Jude Whalen, and Jake Gennosa as some players with experience to fill some of the gaps at defense this year. Redshirt freshman Will Stabbert is another name to watch. Jimmy Joe Granito returns for his senior year in goal.

2017 Prediction: 5-8 (4th in CAA). Although Drexel could easily lose their first six games of the season. It’ll be another tough road for Brian Voelker’s squad.

Penn

The Quakers were a pleasant surprise last year, and were even put in the top 10 by Inside Lacrosse’s Quint Kessenich in his preseason top 20. They have some stellar young guys on their team, four of whom played on the U.S. U-19 World Championship team. Simon Mathias is going to be a name to watch this year, after he led the team in goals and points last year. He joins teammates Alex Roesner and Tyler Dunn, along with Reilly Hupfeldt and Kevin McGeary on offense. Connor Keating is a fun long stick midfielder to watch, as he scored 13 goals last year for the Quakers. Kevin Gayhardt will be joined by Mike Mulqueen and former LSMs Kevin McDonough and Eric Persky at close defense. Sophomore Noah Lejman may miss the entire season with a knee injury during the fall. Sophomore Reed Junkin was an underrated freshman last year and will return in goal for Penn, with freshman Alex deMarco behind him.

2017 Prediction: 9-3 (2nd in Ivy). Penn has a very respectable nonconference schedule, which is something head coach Mike Murphy is known for doing. I think with Yale a weaker team than they were last year and Brown undergoing a coaching change and some big losses, Penn has the chance to sneak up in the top two this year in the conference. They shouldn’t get too cocky, however.

St. Joe’s

The Hawks are usually good in the regular season and the NEC semifinals. And then they fall in the NEC championship game. Last year, it was Hobart, whom they crushed by eight in the regular season. They lost stud attackman Mike Rastivo for the season after he suffered a knee injury in the fall. They’ll need Chris Blewitt, Kyle Cain, Kevin Reidinger, Hayes McGinley, and Ray Vandegrift to step up. Redshirt freshman Michael Major is a guy to watch as well, as he played on the Team USBOXLA U18 team back in 2015. Shane Taggert and Charles Giunta return at close defense, with Brendan McNicholas and La Salle College High School product Nick Buckley as options for the third spot on that unit. Austin Smith and Connor Kubikowski return as the LSMs, but the defense is spearheaded by senior goaltender T.J. Jones, who’s one of the best keepers in the nation.

2017 Prediction: 11-3 (1st in NEC). They lose their first three games to tough opponents, but it should be decent sailing from there on out. They should host the NEC tournament once again, and hopefully Taylor Wray’s crew finally win an NEC championship.

Villanova

The Wildcats return one of the most versatile players in all of Division I in senior attack/midfield/FOGO/whatever else you want him to do Jake Froccaro. He scored a team-high 40 goals last year and was one of the top individual performers in the early part of the regular season. Devin McNamara and Christian Cuccinello join him back at attack for another season. Look for Danny Seibel and maybe freshman Jack Kinnear to make an impact as well. With Sean Cerrone transferring to Duke, Jack Curran and Joey Froccaro will return at that position, along with John Kluh, Andrew Gallihue, and freshman Connor Kirst. Senior Danny Sweeney headlines a defensive unit that needs to be very good this year. Nate Gorman, who missed last year with an injury, and Kurtis Naslonski, a converted offensive midfielder, are other potential starters. Jordan Cunningham returns as the top LSM after missing last year with an injury of his own. The goaltending position is a big question mark, as it’s between senior Dan Willis, sophomore Nick Testa, and freshman Michael Toomey. The first two split time last year, but Testa started against Loyola in the fall, as Willis recovered from a foot injury.

2017 Prediction: 9-5 (2nd in Big East). The biggest hurdle in the Big East outside of Denver is Marquette. Head coach Michael Corrado’s group of guys lost both meetings against the Golden Eagles last season, and will be tough once again for Villanova to beat. An at-large bid might be dependent on their meeting, or two, with Marquette.

Welcome back, Philly college lacrosse teams! Let’s dance!