With 2022 and another year of lacrosse nearly upon us, we’ve already taken a look at 22 predictions for the new year, but I wanted to take things in a slightly different direction. As fun as predictions are, it’s also fun to think about what’s coming up that you can get excited for.
Now, as is the case with forward-looking list like this, we have to give the huge disclaimer that this is all based on what we know now. For all intents and purposes, we need to assume that things will go as planned for now. I mention this as the NLL has just recently paused things for a week and the active NCAA sports are in the midst of mass rescheduling due to COVID-19 surges.
So, time to try to be an optimist and get excited over what’s to come in the lacrosse world in 2022.
2022 Lacrosse: What To Be Excited About
After most of the league was not allowed to play in 2021 and only a few members were able to schedule a game or two, the Ivies are back in full. There are probably more question marks around these teams than any others in the country.
On the men’s side, there were plenty of transfers, and there were also major graduations. These 2022 rosters will be vastly different than those that were on the field in early 2020.
But what may have been a crushing blow to many conferences may not be as big of an issue here. The Ivies have always had different rules for scheduling, recruiting, and eligibility. Students are also there for some of the best degrees found anywhere in the world.
No matter what, the Ivies will be a draw and should still be extremely competitive this spring.
PLL Season 4
The first three seasons of PLL action have not followed the script that the Rabils would have envisioned originally. The first season, sure. But then having the shortened Championship Series in 2020 followed by a COVID protocol-heavy 2021, which impacted venues, travel, and player availability surely wasn’t in their initial plans.
But 2022 may finally be the season where they can have another full tour as close to that first year as possible. They are now the only show in town, having absorbed the MLL, and are in the midst of a new TV deal as well. Their sights are set high, and this next season should start showing how much they are growing.
Going back to college lacrosse, another thing to look forward to is more non-conference games!
Not only were the Ivies largely inactive (there were a few games in the spring), but the Big Ten did not play any teams out-of-conference in 2021, and the MAAC was also a conference-only schedule. The impact of that was big, as you saw teams like Maryland men, Maryland women, Rutgers men, and Northwestern women struggle to show how good they really were on a national stage. The old “eye test” had to be used until the NCAA Tournament could finally get these teams playing everyone else.
It’s been mentioned a few times on broadcasts, but we still have to consider the Calgary Roughnecks as the reigning NLL champs despite that title being won back in 2019. The team now compared to the one from that year looks very different (literally, have you seen the new jerseys and turf?1), but it has really been that long since the NLL has crowned a champ.
So, once this season reaches its final game and a new (or repeat) champion is crowned, it will be the first time in nearly three years, which will be amazing to finally see.
When the World Games kick off in Alabama in the summer, it will be the first real debut of the Sixes format on a true international stage. There have been some exhibitions around, and the format is already very divisive in the lacrosse world. But with the long-term goal of getting lacrosse into the Olympics still very alive, this tournament will be a massive step in that direction.
Also, let’s not forget that the Iroquois Nationals will actually be allowed to play, which is in itself a major moment for the Haudenosaunee.
We’ve talked about the NLL and PLL, but what about the women’s newest pro endeavor: the Athletes Unlimited Lacrosse League. The first season in 2021 saw a wild new format where teams were redrafted every week and players were racking up fantasy-style points to climb the individual leaderboards as the season went on. It was a very new way to run things, and the action on the field itself was incredible on its own. Seeing how they move into Year 2 will be great to watch as we get new players, more experience, and hopefully more games!
Syracuse vs Boston College WLAX
This game has perhaps more potentially talking points behind it than anything else on the schedule right now. Boston College won the championship last spring, and it was at the hands of the Orange in what was their fourth meeting of the campaign (splitting them all, 2-2).
In 2022, both of these lacrosse squads return a ton of firepower, and Orange alum Kayla Treanor moved from the BC coaching staff over to the head coaching job at Syracuse. But what’s the icing on the cake? On April 23, the last game of the regular season for both teams, they will meet in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. It is completely reasonable to think both teams could be undefeated going into this game. There is a lot of lacrosse to played before then, but it’s fun to dream!