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2019 Conference Tournament Primer: America East

Don’t be surprised if we don’t see Albany winning this year.

Jim Harrison/Stony Brook Athletics

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 and MAAC Tournaments.

Four teams makes the conference tournament at the site of the No. 1 seed (Stony Brook). Nothing special with the format of this tourney.

Below is the conference tournament bracket, followed by short previews of the teams.

No. 1: Stony Brook Seawolves

A very good turnaround for Jim Nagle and his program on Long Island. The top program in the conference still resides in New York, only in Long Island rather than the Capital Region. The Seawolves ended the season winning six of their last seven games after falling to Hartford in their conference opener by a goal.

  • OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Their top offensive reason is junior attackman Tom Haun. The Sachem North product leads the team with 31 goals and 43 points, 17 more points than second place Chris Pickel Jr. Sophomore Jack Walsh is Stony Brook’s primary feeder with 19 assists.
  • DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: On a team filled with plenty of New Yorkers, one of their best defensive player is from Canada. Stony Brook has a talented duo of defensemen in Canadian Ryland Rees and New Yorker Justin Pugal. They each have 15 and 14 caused turnovers respectively and have also contributed for five points each. Sophomore Danny Cassidy has also been a stud on close defense.
  • STONY BROOK WINS IF: The Sea Wolves can continue what they’ve been doing well in conference play. They’re the best team in the conference in terms of goals per game and are second in goals against. They could improve on their faceoff wins as Nolan Enneguess is 51.9% on draws for the year. It might be an easier trip to the NCAA Tournament if they don’t have to face Vermont.

No. 2: Vermont Catamounts

For most of the conference schedule, Vermont looked like the best team in the America East. But even though they have some of the best personnel on the field, they’re able to slip up in questionable times. They lost to UMass Lowell by four earlier in the season and gave up a 7-1 second quarter lead to Stony Brook a couple weeks ago.

  • OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Freshman David Closterman has made his way from a depth role to a starting role with an injury to Liam Limoges. Closterman is second on the team with 21 goals and 31 points, two points back of Ben French. He also had an unreal goal last weekend against Penn.
  • DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Vermont had a solid defensive unit last year despite falling to Albany in the conference title game. One of those players is back in Warren Jeffrey. The senior from Ontario (a ton of Catamounts are from Canada) is one of two players with over 10 caused turnovers with the other being freshman Will Jones.
  • VERMONT WINS IF: The offense can continue to score with guys like French, Closterman, and Dawes Milchling and Nick Washuta continues his strong conference play that has him given 7.42 goals a game. The main thing will be Vermont avoiding any mental lapses and put together two strong performances. They could easily be a perfect 6-0 in AE play.

No. 3: Albany Great Danes

The Dane Train is still on the tracks, but it might come to an end quicker than usual. Albany is 5-8 on the season but wasn’t able to beat the top two teams in the conference. Their best win this year was against Drexel.

  • OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Albany’s best player is not Tehoka Nanticoke. By a long shot, it’s been Jakob Patterson. The junior has been the quarterback of the offense with 24 goals (tied with Nanticoke for the team lead) as well as 30 assists. While Nanticoke is more of a finisher, Patterson is what the Albany offense really needs.
  • DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: Albany has always been known to be an offensive team. It still is, but in past years the goalie has been the star of the defense. This year it isn’t with Matt Perla being the team’s top close defender with 13 caused turnovers on the year. He will be vital into stopping opposing top attackmen.
  • ALBANY WINS IF: We see shades of Albany past. Not only does it mean guys like Sean Eccles and Kyle Casey stepping up on offense, but also seeing improved performances from FOGO Austin Jones and goalie Nate Siekierski.

No. 4: UMBC Retrievers

UMBC didn’t have a very good season, but neither did the rest of the America East outside of the top two. But the Retrievers did finish the season winning three of their last five, including the regular season finale against Hartford to enter the America East Tournament. Their two losses came by a combined three goals.

  • OFFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: UMBC needs goals on offense. With their scoring defense not as good as it was last year, they’ll need leading goal scorer Ryan Frawley to get on the box score a good amount in their possible two games. Him and sophomore Trevor Patschorke each have 37 points, but Patschorke has 10 more assists than Frawley with 14 on the year.
  • DEFENSIVE PLAYER TO WATCH: As mentioned, the Retriever defense has dipped a little since last season. UMBC only has one player with nine or more caused turnovers, and that player is junior defenseman Colin Kasner who has 26 caused turnovers on the year. The UMass Lowell transfer didn’t play last season (perhaps due to America East transfer rules) but has been a much-needed addition to the Retriever defense.
  • UMBC WINS IF: UMBC can find goal scorers outside of Frawley and Patschorke. Josh Jordan and Brett McIntyre are two 20-goal players. The big thing will be the Retriever defense to stymie opposing offenses. Stony Brook, Vermont, and even Albany aren’t easy tasks.

2019 AMERICA EAST MEN’S LACROSSE ANNUAL AWARDS
Offensive Player of the Year - Jakob Patterson, Albany
Defensive Player of the Year - Ryland Rees, Stony Brook
Rookie of the Year - David Closterman, Vermont
Coach of the Year - Jim Nagle, Stony Brook

First Team All-Conference
Attack: Ryan Frawley, UMBC
Attack: Tom Haun, Stony Brook
Attack: Jakob Patterson, Albany
Midfield: Daniel Cozzi, UMass Lowell
Midfield: Tehoka Nanticoke, Albany
Midfield: Chris Pickel, Jr., Stony Brook
Defense: Warren Jeffrey, Vermont
Defense: Matt Perla, Albany
Defense: Justin Pugal, Stony Brook
LSM: Ryland Rees, Stony Brook
SSDM: Jack Burgmaster, Albany
FOGO: Liam McDonough, UMass Lowell
Goalkeeper: Nick Washuta, Vermont

Second Team All-Conference
Attack: David Closterman, Vermont
Attack: Ben French, Vermont
Attack: Ty Thompson, Hartford
Midfield: Sean Eccles, Albany
Midfield: Dylan Jinks, Hartford
Midfield: Thomas McConvey, Vermont
Defense: Danny Cassidy, Stony Brook
Defense: Erik Dluhy, Albany
Defense: Colin Kasner, UMBC
LSM: Andrew Simeon, Vermont
SSDM: Harrison Matsuoka, Stony Brook
FOGO: Alex Semler, Vermont
Goalkeeper: MIchael Bollinger, Stony Brook

All-Rookie Team (Regardless of Position)
Midfield: Andrew Boniface, Hartford
Defense: Chris Campbell, Hartford
Attack: David Closterman, Vermont
Midfield: David Estrella, Stony Brook
Defense: Drew Furlong, Binghamton
Midfield: Layton Harrell, Stony Brook
Midfield: Sal Iaria, Vermont
Midfield: Thomas McConvey, Vermont
FOGO: Liam McDonough, UMass Lowell
Attack/Midfield: Kevin Winkoff, Binghamton