Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Preview: Sacred Heart
The NCAA D1 season is now underway! During the first couple of weeks of lacrosse season we’ll be finishing up the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we are going through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Sacred Heart Pioneers, located in Fairfield, CT.
After a 4-9 season in 2012 and a 3-11 season in 2013, Sacred Heart made a coaching change, and now Jon Basti is heading up the Pioneers’ program. Basti has made the rounds in New England coaching circles, and will need to use all the connections he has made over the year to draw in high level talent and get SHU competing again. Let’s see what he has to work with in 2014.
When it comes to the SHU schedule, it’s filled with as many winnable games as possible. I don’t see many of their opponents cracking the top 20 this year, but it’s possible with a couple teams. If Sacred Heart wants to improve on their 2013 mark, this schedule provides a path on which they can do it. They lost a6 games last year by 2 goals or less, so going .500 isn’t out of the question. That being said, they still need the players.
Offensively, SHU brings back an experienced attack unit in Matt Gannon, Cody Marquis, and Mike Mawdsley. The trio has been playing together as a unit for three years now and combined for 108 points last year, with Gannon playing distributor and set up man. Alex Miller can create from the midfield, but players like Alex Dodge and Cutty Diamond will need to step up to give Sacred Heart any midfield depth. I am curious to see if players like Alec Dauses can find increased roles this year as well.
Face offs could be a curious situation. Maybe there is a freshman or transfer that will crush this department, but the only returner on the roster is Mark McDonald, who took 7 draws total, winning 3. Both goalies do return for SHU though, and Jon Flood and Alex Dvoretsky are two good options to have.
Seth Richard and Andrew Newbold give Sacred Heart some experience down low, but they will need others to step up in a big way to be a good unit. Freshmen, like LSM Ryan O’Donoghue may be asked to compete and even start right away.
Sacred Heart should be able to pump in some goals on offense and they have a distributor. If they can win face offs (that’s a mighty big if right now), this could lead them to success. On the other hand, the defensive unit could be solid, and goalkeeping should not be an issue. That could also keep them in some games. A new Head Coach can make for a tough year, but Sacred Heart has some weapons in place that should help them at least a couple of wins. If the Pioneers pick up more than six wins I’ll be surprised, but that wouldn’t be a bad start to the Basti era.
For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air Force, Albany, Army, Bellarmine, Binghamton, Boston, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Canisius,
Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Delaware, Detroit, Drexel, Duke, Fairfield, Furman,
Georgetown, Hartford, Harvard, High Point, Hobart, Hofstra, Holy Cross, Jacksonville, Johns_Hopkins, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Marquette,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Mercer, Michigan, Monmouth, Navy, North Carolina,
Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn, Penn State, Princeton, Providence,Quinnipiac, Richmond, Robert Morris, and Rutgers.