2019 Men’s D1 Lacrosse – Preseason Headlines
It is that time of the year again. The first big snowstorm of the year hit the East Coast this past weekend, so you know what that means. Break out the white balls and plow the fields, folks, because College lacrosse is just about one week away. There are a few big headlines, big names, and teams on the rise I want to keep an eye on this season.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Patrick Spencer tabbed as Preseason Player of the Year
A season after takng a run for the Tewaaraton award as a junior, Spencer again comes into the 2019 season with some lofty expectations. After scoring 35 goals and adding 59 assists for a total of 94 points last season, opposing teams should attempt to lock up the Boys’ Latin product with their best defender this season. Lets quickly take a look at the accolades Spencer has reached through three years in Baltimore.
– Loyola Greyhounds leader in assists (166)
– Patriot League leader in assists (166)
– Second all-time in points at Loyola (266) behind Gary Hanley’s career record of 311
– Patriot League career points leader (266)
– Tenth all-time at Loyola in goals scored (100)
– Tenth in NCAA Division I history in total assists (166)
– Tied for 28th in NCAA Division 1 in career points
– Three-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year
– Three-time USILA All-American (first team in 2017-18; second in 2016)
– Two-time Tewaaraton Award finalist (2017-18).
This is quite the impressive Resume Spencer has put together thus far. Keep in mind all these records could improve, and Spencer could go down in history as one of the most impressive, talented players in NCAA history. I am not saying it is impossible, but if the Greyhounds make a run in the NCAA Tournament this year, Spencer could get mighty close to Lyle Thompson’s career points record of 400. Loyola begins the year ranked #4 by Collegecrosse.com and Inside Lacrosse. They begin play 2/9 at home against Virginia.
Yale takes a run at back-to-back National Championships
The defending champions come into the season ranked in many polls at #1, as they should. Although they lost last year’s Tewaaraton winner Ben Reeves, the Bulldogs bring in the nation’s best faceoff specialist in TD Ierlan. Along with Ierlan, they return players from last year such as Jackson Morrill (McDonogh), Jack Tigh, Matt Gaudet, John Dangennis, Joey Sessa and Chris Fake. Penn State and Cornell will be the toughest tests for Yale this season, but as we saw last year, anything can happen. The Bulldogs beat themselves three times in losses to Villanova, Bucknell and Cornell. They will battle with Cornell for an Ivy League crown, I think it will come down to the wire and will rely on Yale stopping Jeff Teat.
Utah begins first season in Division 1
Quite possibly the team that is taking most of the lacrosse world by storm, due to their amazing views and coaching staff, the Utah Utes will begin their first season of college play in 2019. They even open up the season 2/1 when they play host to Vermont. Head Coach Brian Holman comes from Hopkins, where he was a stud goalie back in the 1980s. Since then, he has coached at Hopkins, Boys’ Latin, and UNC, where he won two national championships. He is a proven winner and should bring that type of culture to the Utes in the coming years. On his staff are recent college graduates who have plenty of playing experience at a high level. Marcus Holman (Gilman) was a standout player at UNC and a 3x All-American. Since then, he has had coaching stints at two high schools in North Carolina, and brings a wealth of knowledge to Utah. Will Manny graduated from Umass and compiled 201 career points. He was named a Tewaaraton Finalist in 2012. Upon leaving there, he has coached at Wagner as a GA. Adam Ghitelman was a 2x All-American goalie at UVA, and won a National Championship. He was recently an assistant coach at Harvard, helping lead them to an Ivy League title and NCAA appearance. The approach to bringing in three young assistants is something new to college lacrosse, and something I think can help with the recruiting process in connecting young recruits with minds who recently went through the process of playing collegiate athletics. Time will tell how the Utes mold into a better team over the next few years. They faceoff against Duke, Virginia and Denver in their inaugural season.
Who will Lehigh be in 2019?
Plenty of sources see Lehigh jumping in 2019, and so do I. Inside Lacrosse ranks them at 13. Collegecrosse.com has them at 11 with some voters putting the Mountain Hawks as high as 9. They have the best senior class in the country. Last season they were 9-7 and had tough losses to Navy, UNC, Bucknell and Loyola (x2). They return their top four returning scorers (all seniors), their two best defenders (also seniors) and their goalie and LSM are sophomores and have a year of experience under their belt. Many may not see this coming, but Lehigh should pick up some signature wins and play in some close games this season. Who knows, they might even compete tightly with Loyola for the Patriot League. Either way, look for Lehigh to be trending up in 2019.
Other stories and questions to follow throughout the 2019 season:
Will opponents shut off Jeff Teat every game?
How will Harvard do after bringing in the nation’s 15th best recruiting class?
Is the America East up for grabs this year after Albany loses last year’s senior class?
There are many other ways in which the college lacrosse season will be shaken up in 2019, but nobody can guess it all now. Continue to follow along throughout the season, as different headlines will appear. Shortly, I will be going conference to conference, looking at teams I want to keep an eye on this spring.