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2019 Men’s College Lacrosse Year In Review: #56 Utah Utes

It was a very exciting first year for the Utes with a bright future ahead.

Utah Athletics

With the 2019 college lacrosse season complete, it’s time to look back at how all 73 teams did during the season, along with an early look at each squad for 2020.

Note: These are not end of season rankings.

Here’s our last five Year In Review posts we’ve done:

To see all of our posts, check out the 2019 Year In Review section on the site.

Let’s continue our 2019 Year In Review!

#56 Utah Utes

Conference: Independent
2019 Record: 5-10
Head coach: Brian Holman (1st Season at NCAA level)

Statistical Leaders

Goals: Josh Stout (43)
Assists: James Sexton (25)
Points: James Sexton (49)
Faceoffs: Seth Neeleman (55-of-175; 31.4%)
Ground balls: Seth Neeleman (54)
Caused turnovers: Samuel Cambere (20)
Goals against average: Liam Donnelly (13.41 GAA)
Save percentage: Liam Donnelly (50%)

Personnel Losses

Key seniors departing: D Aidan Christian (8 CTs, 32 GBs), M Cam Redmond (4 Gs, 4 As, 14 GBs), G Daniel Costa (11.88 GAA, 40.5% SV %, 4 GBs)
Senior scoring departing: 8 of 227 points (3.5%)
Senior starts lost: 23 of 150 (15.3%)

Season Summary

History was made in Salt Lake City in 2019.

In their first year at the NCAA level, the Utah Utes finished 5-10 on the season, a little better than what head coach Brian Holman expected prior to the start of the year. The team also ranked 11th overall in average attendance this season.

But from their 21-6 loss to Vermont in the first game of the 2019 season to their 16-10 win over Detroit Mercy to end it, there was constant improvement from the Utes. A week after the Vermont blowout defeat, Utah got their first ever NCAA win over Mercer. After losses to Hofstra and Denver, the Utes won three straight games by a goal against Air Force, Furman, and Bellarmine. All of a sudden, the first-year team was above .500 at 4-3 in just less than half their inaugural season.

Then came the Duke game, and the Utes went on a five-goal run to take a 7-6 lead in the second quarter. But a late quirky goal by the Blue Devils tied the game at seven into intermission and Duke would score seven straight after that en route to a 17-11 win. Still, a really good effort by Utah.

But the second half of the season saw some first-year struggles for the team, physically and mentally. The Utes lost fourth quarter leads to Fairfield (in overtime) and Mount St. Mary’s, two games that stood out to coach Holman, as well as a tough second half against Hartford in a two-goal defeat. But after a disappointing loss to Cleveland State, Utah ended their season with a win against Detroit Mercy.

One improvement made was at the faceoff X, their weakest position on the field. For the majority of the season, poles Seth Neeleman and Samuel Cambere took draws. But Donny Stock slowly started to progress as a FOGO to give his defensemen some rest. Holman hopes he continues to improve on his draws next season. But even with poles taking faceoffs, it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. It helped Holman see how Utah does in other facets of the field, such as the 10 man ride.

Off the field, the Utes earned a 3.374 average GPA, the highest men’s team grade point average at Utah. Holman hopes to get that up to a 3.5 next year, along with doing some community service and outreach.

Looking Ahead

There’s a lot to look ahead for 2020. First off, Utah will be playing on campus next season after playing at Judge Memorial High School. With three seniors graduating from the program, 21 freshmen come in with at least two transfers as well. That will mean some guys on the current team will be cut.

With faceoffs looking for improvement, so will the midfield. Their best was Aaron Fjeldsted who finished with 11 goals and 13 assists. The hope is to build depth in the middle of the field with three lines and able to push transition. Holman also will look for better defense in the second half of games. Utah could have had seven or eight wins.

Besides what happens during games, the hope is to start developing team ownership within the players. Who is holding what players accountable? It began a little bit last season, but Holman wants to take the next step forward with that, along with another year of working with a star-studded staff of Will Manny, Adam Ghitelman, and Marcus Holman, with Tim McDermott, Gus Colonna, and Parker Teagle also chipping in.

While the growth of the coaches, players, and team as a whole continues, the big question still revolves around conference affiliation. That is Holman’s biggest goal to continue the growth of the program and have a chance to play in the postseason in the very near future.

Poll

How many wins will Utah get in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    0-3
    (4 votes)
  • 20%
    4-5
    (35 votes)
  • 42%
    6-7
    (72 votes)
  • 34%
    8+
    (58 votes)
169 votes total Vote Now