We’re back with the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we’ll go through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Brown University Bears, located in Providence, RI.
The Brown Bears will be looking to improve on last year’s 8-6 record, a year in which they played well on the road, going 6-3, but struggled within their conference, where they went 2-4. Luckily for the Bears, they will be returning much of last year’s talent, especially at attack. Here’s a breakdown of the team by position.
Attack: Last year’s team leader in points was Henry Blynn, who registered 27 goals and 8 assists. For Blynn, this is particularly impressive considering he was only a freshman. If he was that good in year one, imagine how dangerous he will be with a year of experience under his belt. Supporting Blynn will be Brown’s second leading point scorer, Senior Sam Hurster. Hurster netted 22 goals and dished out 8 assists, and is a nice complement to Blynn. Nick Piroli was the team’s fourth ranking point scorer, and figures to be the third starter this year after scoring 14 goals and handing out 7 assists last year. Sophomores Kylor Bellistri (6,1) and Bailey Tills (6,2) figure to be in the mix, and Freshman AJ Lucchese could get some looks as well.
Midfield: This is an area of concern for Brown, as they are lacking a true identity at the midfield. Sophomore Brendan Caputo was one of the stronger middies for the Bears last year, finishing with 10 goals and 7 assists. Caputo will need to lead the midfield this year. Also helping to lead the midfield will be senior Stephen Chmil, who started at SSDM for Brown last year. However, this year, Chmil will likely play more offense than he did last year. Sophomore Matt Graham transferred from Michigan and will have the opportunity to be a contributor this year. Also looking to contribute is Junior Tim Jacob, who scored seven goals last year. Brown is very young at this position, and needs some underclassmen to become impact players. Another possibility is that reserve attackmen such as Bellistri could be moved up in order to get more runs and boost the offense.
LSM: Roger Ferguson was outstanding for Brown last year, but has been lost to graduation. Sophomores Calum McClelleand and Todd Stewart both saw limited action in reserve roles last year, so somebody is going to have to step up and fill the void at LSM. It can be a big hole, especially in the Ivy.
FOGO: Tommy Capone took the majority of the draws for the Bears last year, and went 44% at the X. Faceoffs were an issue for the team last year, and Brown has been working to improve on this aspect of the game in the offseason. Capone will likely start again this year, but the Bears have other experienced players. Junior Corbin Booker went 13-27 last year, and Jordan Schochet went 29-98. While these two juniors are capable, look for sophomore Will Gural to take draws if Capone struggles. Gural missed last season due to injury but was stupendous in high school at the Haverford School.
Defense: Junior Phillip Pierce is the only starter from last year who is back in 2014. He registered 25 groundballs and 14 caused turnovers. Fellow junior Will Swindell played in a reserve role last year and will likely start this year. The third spot is up for grabs, but senior Peter Vivonetto will look to take over and provide leadership to the Brown defense. Daniel Mellynchuk could also see some time at close this year.
Goalie: Jack Kelly started in nine games as a freshman last year, getting better every game and taking control of the starting spot. He posted a respectable 9.3 goals against average last season. Now that Kelly has some college experience, he will have some more confidence and can do even better this year than he did last year. Will Round started in 2012 for the Bears and is a capable backup to Kelly if he needs to go in. In the four games he started last year, Round’s save percentage was 57%.
Overall: Brown has tons of talent at attack, but midfield and close D are areas where younger players are going to have to step up and help the Bears have a successful year. The success of the team is heavily reliant on players such as Henry Blynn and Jack Kelly. If the areas of concern, like the faceoff X, are improved upon in 2014, Brown will be a consistent top 20 team and could even win the Ivy League under the leadership of Head Coach Lars Tiffany. It’s not an easy path by any means, and they aren’t considered favorites, but the potential is there.