While the 2021 season was clouded with uncertainty due to the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic, one thing was for certain. The return of D3 college lacrosse didn’t disappoint. The season was full of upsets, the rise of the upstarts, and one of the most exciting finishes in championship history.
2022 will present some similar challenges due to the continuing presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, but all signs are pointing to life on the lacrosse field returning somewhat to normal. As of right now teams are playing non-conference games, spring break trips are going to be had, and the return of some of our favorite rivalries are back on the horizon.
Here are some storylines to follow for the 2022, D3 college lacrosse season.
Gone are the thoughts that RIT couldn’t get it done. RIT finally got over the hump and did it in dramatic fashion. One of the best finishes in NCAA Championship game history left everyone wanting more. A fitting end to the 2021 season.
What does 2022 have in store for the Tigers? The hunter has now become the hunted. Tufts bring back arguably its best team in years and one that can rival the Jumbos’ team from the shortened COVID-19 2020 season. Both the North and South regions will be absolute dog fights this year, and once again it will be the teams that manage the COVID-19 situation best who will have a shot a making a run.
Like many seasons, there will be some new faces on the sidelines for schools across the country, but this year more than others saw some prestigious schools go through coaching changes due to retirement or other reasons. Here are some notable changes.
- Denison: One of the all time NCAA greats Mike Caravana said farewell to Denison after a storied run as head coach for one of the nations premier programs. His shoes will not be easily filled, but Denison went with Eric Koch to take the reigns. An assistant at Washington and Lee that is well known for his knowledge of the game and his recruiting abilities, Koch takes over a program that has had tremendous success and will look to continue the tradition put in place by coach Caravana.
- Gettysburg: Replacing one legend is major news, but replacing two in one hiring cycle is very unique. Long time coach Hank Janczyk said farewell to a program he’s called home for more than three decades. Coach Janczyk built Gettysburg into one of the nations premier programs with multiple championship game appearances and numerous conference titles. Taking over the program is Peter Toner from Penn State. Toner has helped oversee the emergence of Penn State as an assistant coach, and has the task of helping Gettysburg return to its former glory.
- Amherst: A program that has dealt with a lot of controversy since its National Championship game appearance in 2019 is returning to the field this spring with its third head coach since Memorial Day 2019. Sean Woods will take the reigns of a program looking to get back to the top of NESCAC and the North Region. Woods is fresh off a deep run in the NCAA tournament at Colorado College.
- Bowdoin: Jason Archbell is out, Bill Mason is in. In the hyper competitive NESCAC, Bowdoin is a place that many think could be a sleeping giant. Time will tell, in an already crowded North region we will see if Bowdoin can join the Fray.
The Pool B Problem
When it comes to the NCAA Tournament this season, someone will be left out in the cold. There will be only one Pool B Bid in 2022 which goes to schools that are classified as Independents or in a conference without an AQ. Due to the dissolution of the CAC and Salisbury along with Christopher Newport going to the C2C, only one of those schools will get to the NCAA’s this year, putting a major emphasis on their head-to-head games but also what they do with the rest of their schedule. Two teams in the preseason top five could end their seasons there, and one of them will stay home. Wrong on so many levels, but not much anyone can do about it.
Midwest and Southern Upstarts
2021 saw heads turn with some NCAA tournament upsets, and other schools going deeper into the tournament than expected. Can Centre catch lightning in a bottle again? After their upset win over Denison, the rest of the country was paying a lot more attention to this school from Danville, Kentucky.
The SAA as a whole is conference that plays solid lacrosse and we’ve seen Rhodes also make a run in years past. Illinois Wesleyan is a team that has caught steam in the past few years and has scored a regular season win over Ohio Wesleyan. They ran into the Salisbury wall in the 2021 NCAA’s, but Coach Iannucci has done a tremendous job building them up. Don’t be surprised to see John Carroll or Baldwin Wallace turn some heads this season. Hope College is another team that could make some noise as the 2022 D3 college lacrosse season progresses.
PreSeason Top 10
Defending Champion should have that title until someone takes it.
- Christopher Newport
- Franklin and Marshall
- St. John Fisher