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The Good, The Bad, & The Future: SoCon

We continue our conference recaps with the Southern Conference!

Team DMI

With the offseason now in full swing, it’s time to look back at the 2017 season! We’ll dissect all the individual teams from worst to first based off my final Power Rankings later during the summer.

But first, we’ll dissect each conference and return The Good, The Bad, & The Future series. We won’t talk a ton about each team until the individual dissections, but this should be a good quick glimpse at each team. Yesterday, we did the MAAC teams. We’ll now take a look at the teams from the SoCon!

So let’s get started!

VMI Keydets (2-12)

The Good: Freshman John Daniel led the team with 20 assists and 34 points on the season and was named to the SoCon’s All-Freshman team. Junior attackman Wesley Saunders was a First Team All-SoCon choice after a team-high 17 goals.

The Bad: VMI’s last good win came against Richmond in 2014. For the second straight season, they defeated NJIT and Hampton. Congrats. In 2015, it was UMass Lowell in their first year. Will they ever get good? I hope so.

The Future: Three starters from last year’s team depart as part of the senior class. That doesn’t help the Keydets heading into 2018 as of now, but anything can happen in college lacrosse. However, it’s going to take a lot for VMI to be a contender in the SoCon.

High Point Panthers (4-10)

The Good: Starting defenseman Tanner Landstra was selected by the Ohio Machine in the MLL Draft.

The Bad: This was High Point’s worst season since 2013 when they went 3-12. The last three seasons, the Panthers were above .500, so this is a steep decline. They lost in overtime to Mercer and fell to Bellarmine by two goals.

The Future: Their top two point scorers last season have graduated in Michael Leclair and Sean Harrison. Role players such as Cole Carns and Nick Basile also go, as well as Landstra and Daniel McKenna Jr. on defense. Returning players include midfielder Connor Robinson, defenseman Terrell Sands, and goaltender Tim Troutner Jr.

Mercer Bears (5-8)

The Good: Lucas Wittenberg continued to be a top offensive weapon for the Bears, while defenseman Colin Massa became the school’s first MLL draft pick.

The Bad: Three of their losses came by a goal, and two of them came in SoCon play against Furman and Bellarmine. Plus senior leaders like Massa and Chris Rahill are graduating.

The Future: A total of seven key seniors depart, with four of them recording starts. Wittenberg, Matt Quinn, and Jake Nelson should be returning on offense, with Hank Morgan and Willy Deines back on defense. Goaltender Bradley Hodoval looks like the top netminder ending 2018 on the Bears as well.

Bellarmine Knights (4-9)

The Good: The Knights played Ohio State to a 14-11 loss early in the season, and the Buckeyes went to the National Championship game. Senior Tucker Ciessau was also named a Second Team All-SoCon selection.

The Bad: Bellarmine hasn’t had a record above .500 since 2014, when they went 7-5 in their final year in the ECAC. They’ve also had some really bad losses. And 11 goal loss to Mount St. Mary’s, a 13 goal loss to Furman, and an 18 goal loss to Air Force are notables. And with a SoCon Tournament spot on the line against Jacksonville, the Knights lost by six.

The Future: Ciessau, Jack Perkins, and Kevin Fahey are notable losses to the team for 2018. Brian Wall and Ian Miller are key returnees on offense, and Evan P. Kalish and Brendan Fennell return on defense, along with goaltenders Max Cartor and Jordan Dondoyano.

Jacksonville Dolphins (3-11)

The Good: Year one for John Galloway didn’t start the way he wanted it to go, but the ending resulted in the team winning three of their final four regular season games and advance to the SoCon Tournament before falling to eventual champion Air Force by three goals.

The Bad: Nine straight losses to start the season isn’t too hot. A couple of one-goal losses were thrown in there as well against Lehigh and Air Force in overtime.

The Future: Four key seniors, two of them captains, graduate in 2017. The starting defense and goaltender Ben Gleichenhaus all return, as well as plenty of the team’s starting offense, including leading goal scorer McLean Chicquen and leading assist disher Eric Applegate.

Furman Paladins (7-8)

The Good: Easily the best team in Furman’s four year history at 7-8. They went undefeated in SoCon play until they lost back-to-back games to Richmond. Plus, three of their top scorers are freshmen or sophomores, and freshman goaltender Alex Van de Bovenkamp was one of the top freshmen in the entire country.

The Bad: Outside of SoCon play, the Paladins went 1-6 in non-conference play, with their only win coming against Mount St. Mary’s. Their only real blowout loss was against Ohio State by six, but lost to Vermont in overtime and Sacred Heart by a goal, Michigan and Penn State by two goals, and North Carolina by four goals.

The Future: A ton of seniors leave as the first inaugural team is all gone. That includes most of the starting defense from last year, FOGO Hil Blaze, and two attackmen. Lou Yovino was a stud at midfield, and complements a young midfield unit of William Holcomb and Zach Scott, who are both sophomores. Another sophomore is David Williamson who was second on the team in scoring. Furman is on the up, especially with Meade at the helm.

Richmond Spiders (12-4)

The Good: Probably the best of the new teams from 2014 has been the Spiders. Their third straight season that the Spiders were over .500, and they were consistently ranked in the top 20 in multiple polls for the entire season. They defeated North Carolina for the second straight season, and produced two All-Americans and MLL draft picks in defenseman Brendan Hynes and goaltender Benny Pugh.

The Bad: With tough one-goal losses to Duke and Virginia, it took Richmond out of possible at-large contention. Then, they couldn’t beat Air Force in the regular season and once again in the SoCon Championship game. They’re 0-5 against the Falcons in program history, with two losses in each of the last two seasons, and in the 2013 NCAA Play-In game.

The Future: Richmond loses a ton of seniors that played a pivotal role on this team, including Hynes and Pugh. Austin Cunningham, J.P. Forester, and Dan Ginestro take away some support on offense, but Mitch Goldberg didn’t play at all this season, and could be back as a redshirt-senior, which helps a little at attack. The biggest loss is at defense, with Ryan Dennis, Ryan Berning, and midfielder A.J. Lapitino go, along with FOGO Peter Moran. But they have talented sophomores in Ryan Lee and Teddy Hatfield left on the team, and junior Layne Collins at attack.

Air Force Falcons (12-6)

The Good: Air Force, whose campus is located in Colorado, won the SoCon title for the second straight season! Shoutout to geography, am I right!? The season also began with an upset win over Duke.

The Bad: The Falcons can’t get by their in-state foes, Denver. They lose twice to them during the season, and also had losses to Marist and Marquette, which hurt their at-large chances, along with a surprise loss to Furman in SoCon play. They had to replace freshman keeper Paxton Boyer in the middle of the season with Mitch Rose, a former midfielder, who’s graduating.

The Future: Plenty of talent will be back for Eric Seremet’s team. Chris Walsch will be a senior and is the lead horse on the offense, and was completed with fellow juniors Grant Gould, Nick Hruby, and Andrew Tien on offense. Brandon Jones and Sean LaVine return on defense, along with FOGO Trent Harper, and Boyer at goalie once again. They should be a favorite to retain to SoCon crown for a third straight season.