Editor’s Note: With lacrosse season truly starting up in earnest, it’s time to take a look at D1 lacrosse and carve out some pre-season story lines! Connor Wilson took a look at some Things To Watch For, and we made 12 Predictions for 2012 and now we’re welcoming Ryan Connors to the mix with his take on the upcoming year. It’s going to be a wild ride, so strap in!
As teams are beginning their preseason practices, there is a lot of talk and hype about the upcoming 2012 college lacrosse season, and there should be. A large number of topics and questions across lacrosse are blowing up the lax forums. As it stands right now, this season is pretty much up for grabs by any team. This will make for very exciting lacrosse and I personally cannot wait for the season to get underway. There are a few topics floating around out there that I am interested in seeing what the outcome will be. Feel free to weigh in and argue or concur with my topics. OK, lets get to it!
Syracuse Orange Graduation
If you didn’t know by now, I am in fact an upstate guy; and I was born and raised to bleed orange. Therefore, it is pretty obvious that I was upset with the departure of SU’s senior class last year. ‘Cuse graduated a ton… take that back… a metric ton of senior talent and leadership last June. They lost their entire starting midfield, and I need to point out that all three did not simply play offense. They were all two-way middies, and Thompson took draws with Miller on the wing. SU also lost a consistent scoring attackman, a dynamic LSM, 2 out of 3 close defense men and one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game (sorry Quint). These core group of players held a big part on winning two national championships.
The motto in upstate New York is, “We don’t rebuild, we reload”. And while this is true, I think Syracuse might struggle early on in their season. They lack players with game and championship experience. Sure you can have a team of good players, but can they perform when it counts? With a majority of the team seeing little to no game experience last year, I think the Orange will struggle early on. It will be interesting to see which newcomers will step up when Cuse is on the road against a battle hardened Hopkins or Virgina.
Big East Conference
While we are talking about possible early season struggles for the Orange, I bring up my next topic which is Big East play. I just finished saying Syracuse will not have as strong as a team as last year, which opens the door for several teams to claim the crown for the Big East. Anyone can grab the title this year in the Big East. Villanova looks to have another strong season as is beginning to emerge as a perennial threat. Notre Dame, as always, will be a force in the league. Those two teams along with ‘Cuse will battle for the top stop. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a tie for league champions. I also might throw Georgetown back into the mix. And in the future, SMU could join the Big East and add lacrosse. Now that would be crazy! But also at least 18 months down the line.
Charlie Streep caught my eye last season in his play off game aginst Virgina. In my opinion, the Bucknell v. Virgina game was one of the best tournment games from the past few years. Right before my eyes, I witnessed midfielder Charlie Streep hoist the team on his back and fight all the way to the end. Unfortunately for Bucknell, Steele Stanwick’s shoulders were stronger as he carried his Virgina team right to a National Championship. Ever since then Streep has been one of my favorite players to watch.
However, Streep was on the sideline this fall ball recovering from a torn ACL. It looks as if he will be able to play this season. No one exactly knows what the status of Streep’s knee is, which begs the questions, “Will Streep be in game shape by the time the season rolls around?” I predict that Streep will be in decent shape when the season rolls around if he has been sticking to his rehab regiment. Some players tend to be cautious on a repaired knee, not planting or cutting to hard with the fear they might reinjure their leg.
I think Streep will come back ready to go, some players have the ability to step right out on the field and just falt out play, Streep definitely falls into this category. His physical fitness will be behind the rest of the team, but after the first few games he will get his mojo back, “Yeah Baby!” (Austin Powers reference). If Streep plays, look for Bucknell to have another strong showing and make another run into the playoffs.
Return of the Mike
Penn Yan native Mike Manley returns to the active roster of the Duke Blue Devils, after sitting out last year with a knee injury. This only adds more talent to the fully loaded Duke team. Throw Manley in with an already solid defensive unit including CJ Constible and seasoned vet Bill Conners and you have your self a good looking defense. Both Dan Wigrizer and Mike Rock have proven themselves between the pipes.
It will be an interesting battle to see who gets the starting nod, but adds comfort to know if either one goes down there is a solid back up. Duke returns a majority of their leading point scorers so I would say Duke should have a very successful season, it wouldn’t surprise me if they get to the Final Four. A fierce and highly talents team with John Danowski at the helm? Looks pretty good to me.
Pannell vs. Stanwick
I know we’ve all been thinking about it, but the question remains, who will emerge as the more supreme laxer? Last year it was Stanwick, he carried his team to a National Championship victory and added a Tewarraton trophy to his trophy case. However, Pannell and the Big Red have been a power house in the Ivy League and consistently make the playoffs, but have come up short the past few years. In this year’s MLL collegiate draft, Pannell went number one overall beating out Stanwick at number two. It is hard to compare these two players side by side and pick the better laxer.
In years past, Pannell has put up bigger numbers than Stanwick, but Steele has a nice big ring around his finger. It will be interesting to see which one of these gun slingers will have a better year. I think this is the year of the Big Red, look for Pannell to take his team to the Final Four.
Let me know what your thoughts are on the 2012 season, if you think Stanwick is going to repeat, or anything else feel free to leave a comment or let me know on Twitter @connors36!