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Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Preview: Bryant

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 Bryant Bulldgos, located in Smithfield, RI.

Bryant plays in the Northeast Conference, and while last year’s overall record of 8-11 wasn’t superb (especially after their 14-4 showing in 2012), Bryant did win the NEC and get the AQ to the NCAA Tournament, falling to eventual finalist Syracuse 12-7 in the first round.

Bryant will look to once again win the NEC in 2014, and also has to be hoping that they will show better in the Ocean State Cup. Last year Brown won the OCS by beating Providence and Bryant. Bryant last won the Cup in 2012. Bryant’s schedule for 2014 includes a full slate of games against the NEC foes as well as their in-state rivals. Bryant will also face Colgate, Bucknell, Yale, Drexel, Hartford, Monmouth, Albany, and Richmond. If Bryant wants to be seen as a competitor, they need to win 11 of these games.

Bryant once again plays a full slate of games. They have 16 games on their schedule, and will get plenty of chances to prove themselves against good teams, especially early on. Losing Mason Poli and Peter McMahon to graduation will hurt Bryant, as they were both game changers, so do the Bulldogs still have what it takes to make a run in 2014?

Bryant’s good fortunes start with Kevin Massa taking face offs. Massa was rock solid in 2013 winning 315 of 434 face offs. Expect Massa to continue to give the Bulldogs possessions this year. Kevin’s brother, Kenny, joins Bryant this year as a freshman, and he is a young player to watch. Colin Dunster brings back 48 points at attack as a Senior and should be the focal point for Bryant again. Juniors Sipperly and Zomerfeld should continue to produce at a solid clip as well. Bryant has a solid crew of diverse scorers. They lack a dominant player, but I like their spread of talent just as much.

Defensively, Bryant brings back two guys down low, but will need to find a replacement for Glen Maiorano, along with Poli at LSM (he had 22 points in 2013). Connor Dent and Matt Macgrotty both return down low, and players like William Gould and Kevin Maiorano (Glen’s younger brother) will be asked to step up. In goal Bryant is solid with Gunnar Waldt and Tom Carey splitting starts last year. Waldt played about 2/3 of the total time.

Bryant still has a solid offense, and can dominate on face offs and possessions. If Dunster and Co. can score more than 10 goals a game, Bryant could be solid, especially if a couple good defensive players step up. The Bulldogs could be very competitive. If the Bulldogs can’t find a good replacement for Poli and other defensive players, it could be a long season in Smithfield. It comes down to good team defense for Bryant in 2014, it’s their biggest question mark.

For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air ForceAlbanyArmyBellarmineBinghamtonBoston University, and Brown.