The biggest names in lacrosse almost entirely play for the top programs. Most of us can name players from Duke, Syracuse, and the like, but the lesser programs don’t often get that level of love. However, the game keeps growing, and with that expansion comes great under-the-radar players at smaller programs.
While some of these guys, like Florida’s Kieran McArdle, go on to later become bigger names in the MLL, not all of them get the attention they deserve.
With that in mind, here’s a shout-out to five under-the-radar players whose names you should know for the 2015-16 NCAA D1 season…
Dylan Molloy, Brown
Brown came out of nowhere to tear up the Ivy League last year and sneak into the NCAA Tournament. A huge piece of that came from an offense that sped up, posting the 5th highest scoring offense in DI. Molloy led the charge, scoring 62 goals last year and leading the nation in goals-per-game. He finished with 92 points, only behind Lyle Thompson and Stony Brook’s Mike Rooney in total points.
Entering his junior year, expect Molloy to take another step in creating points. While matching his 62 goals might prove difficult now that he’ll be drawing the top defender each and every game, I expect that his assist numbers will go up. If Molloy can get some of the attention that Ivy League stars like Rob Pannell and Tom Schreiber have before him, he’s a great dark horse candidate for the Tewaaraton in 2016.
Brody Eastwood, Stony Brook
Stony Brook had a great season, and a fantastic scoring offense last year. The only problem was that they share a conference with Albany, who had an even better season and a flashier scoring offense. Returning for the Seawolves for his senior year is Brody Eastwood, who posted 61 goals last year.
Eastwood has posted 40+ goals in all three of his seasons at Stony Brook, and it’s hard to imagine that he doesn’t keep that streak going in his senior season. The question for Eastwood is whether or not he can become the leader of this offense. Mike Rooney posted 112 points for the Seawolves last season, and 62 of those points were assists. Eastwood only had six assists last season. For Eastwood to take a step up from scorer to star, he’ll need to prove he can feed the rock as well as he can rip it.
J.D Recor, Marist
Recor finished as an all-conference second teamer in both of his first two season, and last year he was 5th in the nation in assists with 43. He averaged four points a game as a sophomore. All in all, he ranked 15th in the nation in points-per-game.
Why is he primed for a breakout junior season? Firstly, teammate Joseph Radin was right above him at 14th. This means that Recor will likely be drawing team’s second defender, giving him a boost against teams who aren’t as deep on defense. Secondly, Recor is spending his off-season playing box with the First Nations Junior B Lacrosse League’s Rochester J-Hawks. Recor was a big-time assist player last season, and I think that the box experience will give him a boost as a finisher that will allow him to break out in his junior year.
Tom Monzo, Richmond
Richmond has been one of the hottest new teams in DI. In only their third season as a member of the NCAA, Richmond was one double-OT goal against High Point from making the NCAA Tournament. The success for the Spiders came from a defense that ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, with only Maryland allowing less goals-per-game. To continue that defensive success in the 2015-16 season, I’m betting on Tom Monzo to lead this unit.
Monzo is a returning captain, a senior, and finished second on the team last season in caused turnovers. Monzo is a solid, dependable defenseman, but his leadership is what makes him stand out. If the Spiders continue to shut offenses down this season, expect a maturing squad to be in competition for a tournament berth in May. Monzo will lead the defense this year, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see that unit maintain a top-5 scoring defense and take over the league from High Point this season.
Jason Weber, Detroit
Detroit wasn’t very good last year, but that didn’t stop them from upsetting Ohio State in the first game of the season. Credit for that, and for a lot of low scoring games, goes to goalie Jason Weber. Against Ohio State, Weber posted a 63.6% save rate on 22 shots. This was a start to a season that saw Weber post 14.43 saves per game, leading the NCAA in that category. That wasn’t just because Detroit allowed a lot of shots, as Weber also finished third in the nation in save percentage at 59.1% on the year.
Weber’s junior year should see him continue to build on that great performance. While Detroit is probably too small a program to make the NCAA Tournament, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Detroit upset another major program this season, nor would I be shocked to see Weber make someone’s MLL roster in the future.