Welcome to conference championship week.
There’s 10 conferences and 10 conference tournaments. Nine of them get started next weekend, with the ACC holding their championship on Saturday. The Patriot League got their conference tournament started on Tuesday. We’ve also previewed the Big Ten Tournament.
Four teams makes the conference tournament at Marist (this year’s predetermined site). Nothing special with the format of this tourney.
Below is the conference tournament bracket, followed by short previews of the teams.
No. 1: Marist Red Foxes
After a down 3-12 season (with two of their wins coming in MAAC play), Keegan Wilkinson’s squad has stormed back with new faces to win the regular season conference title. Their top eight scorers should all return with at least a year of eligibility left with a defense with two solid seniors in James Sarrocco and Ralph Sommer.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: The Red Foxes only have one player with more than 10 assists in junior Joe Tierney. Less than half of their goals are unassisted, and the main goal-scorer has been sophomore Jake Weinman who has 26 goals on the year and is the only Marist player with at least 30 points. The top eight scorers that I already mentioned are also the only players with over 10 points.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Some conferences call label FOGOs are defensive players. I don’t particularly like that (that’s similar to calling a kicker an offensive player). But we’ll use it in this series since there are some valuable players that don’t necessarily play defense. FOGO Peyton Smith has been an underrated faceoff man this season, winning 64.7% of his draws and ranks in the top 10 nationally.
- MARIST WINS IF: The Red Foxes continue to limit teams to under 10 goals. They’ve done so the past three games and look to continue that trend with Jake MacGregor in the cage.
No. 2: Quinnipiac Bobcats
It’s been a crazy year for the Bobcats. Despite looking like a MAAC favorite on paper in the fall, the team had their fall ball cancelled due to student conduct policy violations and head coach Eric Fekete was let go. The team persevered and are now the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and looking to win the MAAC for the first time since 2016.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Jake Tomsik leads the team in all offensive categories, including in points with 50. But right behind him in goals are seniors Foster Cuomo and Mike Fletcher that played in five fewer games than he did. Cuomo has had three games where he’s scored more than five goals, but Fletcher has been much more consistent with four straight hat-tricks, with the first three games recording four goals.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: We have a hunch on why some seniors missed the first five games of the regular season, but it’s not a fact. Mike Ruane was also one of those seniors that missed the early part of the season but has since made a big impact on the defensive side of the ball with 10 caused turnovers, which is tied for a team-high.
- QUINNIPIAC WINS IF: Tomsik can get going on offense again. He only has four points in his last three games (one of them was a zero point performance against Yale). He did have a hat-trick in Quinnipiac’s regular season win over Detroit Mercy.
No. 3: Detroit Mercy Titans
The Titans are the third team in the MAAC with an 8-6 record, showing how similar and wide open the automatic qualifier is. Matthew Vangalen is one of the best attackmen in the MAAC. They have the offense and the defense to win the conference and potentially be a dark horse in the NCAA Tournament.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Most people haven’t watched Detroit Mercy this season and aren’t sure of who Matthew Vangalen is. He leads the team with 36 assists and 55 points and is the quarterback of the offense. Vangalen can spread the ball a good amount with the main scorer on the team being junior Seth Mendell. Think of it as a Pat Spencer-Kevin Lindley type duo.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: You should get to know Paul Manuszak this weekend. The sophomore LSM kind of gets pushed to the side with goalie Logan Shamblin, FOGO Alex Jarzembowski, and close defenseman Alex Akins on the team. But Manuszak is tied with Akins with 16 caused turnovers on the year and is second on the team with 64 ground balls. He recorded 10 GBs two weeks ago against Siena.
- DETROIT MERCY WINS IF: Vangalen can spread the ball on offense while Shamblin plays better than he has this season. His goals against average is higher and save percentage is lower than his redshirt-freshman campaign.
No. 4: Canisius Golden Griffins
The defending conference champions are in very familiar position, maybe one that they like. When the Golden Griffins won the MAAC title, they were also the No. 4 seed. No Connor Kearnan this time around, but Canisius has gotten help from familiar faces such as Mario Caito and Mathieu Boissonneault on offense along with Holden Garlent on defense, as well as freshman Jacob Buck and grad transfers Layne Collins at attack and Brad Nordstrom in goal.
- OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Buck has become Canisius’ top threat on offense with a team-high 41 points. But despite his 41 points, he doesn’t lead the team in either goals or assists which shows you how balanced the top six on offense is.
- DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: I mentioned Manuszak for Detroit Mercy, so it should be good to mention about Holden Garlent. He’s started all 15 games but can play close defense or LSM. His versatility has helped him record 25 caused turnovers on the season and become the school’s all-time leader in the category with 54 CTs. But he’s the team’s only player with over 10 caused turnovers.
- CANISIUS WINS IF: Daniel Balawejder can do a slightly better job winning faceoffs. He’s under 50% on the year, but Canisius knows how to win this tournament if they have a disadvantage at the faceoff X. They needed two late comebacks for their two wins a year ago, so both sides of the ball will have to step up their game. Anybody can beat anyone.
2019 Major Award Winners
BSN Sports MAAC Coach of the Year: Keegan Wilkinson, Marist
Defensive Player of the Year: Logan Shamblin, Detroit Mercy
Faceoff Specialist of the Year: Peyton Smith, Marist
Long-Stick Midfielder of the Year: Paul Manuszak, Detroit Mercy
Offensive Player of the Year: Matthew Vangalen, Detroit Mercy
Rookie of the Year: Jacob Buck, Canisius
All-MAAC First Team
Matthew Vangalen, Attack, Detroit Mercy
Jake Tomsik, Attack, Quinnipiac
Keenan Cook, Attack, Siena
Mathieu Boissonneault, Midfield, Canisius
Carter Stefaniak, Midfield, Canisius
Will Abbott, Midfield, Quinnipiac
Dylan Pantalone, Midfield, Siena
Peyton Smith, FOGO, Marist
Paul Manuszak, LSM, Detroit Mercy
Rudy Beck, SSDM, Monmouth
Holden Garlent, Defense, Canisius
James Sarrocco, Defense, Marist
Chris Hervada, Defense, Monmouth
Logan Shamblin, Goalkeeper, Detroit Mercy
Brendan Krebs, Goalkeeper, Manhattan
All-MAAC Second Team
Mario Caito, Attack, Canisius
Parker Giarratana, Attack, Manhattan
Foster Cuomo, Attack, Quinnipiac
Joe Tierney, Midfield, Marist
Cam Kostus, Midfield, Detroit Mercy
Eric Munn, Midfield, Siena
Alex Jarzembowski, FOGO, Detroit Mercy
Gordon Phillips, LSM, Monmouth
Michael Sanzone, SSDM, Canisius
Matthew Selts, SSDM, Marist
Logan Monroe, Defense, Canisius
Alex Akins, Defense, Detroit Mercy
Sam McClain, Defense, Detroit Mercy
Dylan DeMuro, Defense, Manhattan
Brad Nordstrom, Goalkeeper, Canisius
MAAC All-Rookie Team
Jacob Buck, Canisius
Jake Lemon, Canisius
Cam Kostus, Detroit Mercy
AJ Van Voorhis, Detroit Mercy
James Lyons, Marist
Jojo Pirreca, Marist
Cade Stratton, Monmouth
Will Abbott, Quinnipiac
Nick DiMuccio, Quinnipiac
Demitri George, Quinnipiac
Austin Blumbergs, St. Bonaventure
Brett Dobson, St. Bonaventure
Sean Westley, St. Bonaventure
Tyler Menniti, Siena