UCSB made a huge push late last season to be included in nationals, and they were rewarded for an SLC semis performance with a spot at nationals. That should inspire a lot of confidence in the Gauchos going into 2017. The coaches have picked them to finish above both Arizona and Arizona State in the SLC, and that should tell you a lot about the hype that’s building in Santa Barbara.
Attackman Alex Dixon scored 51 goals for the Gauchos last year as a freshman, and I fully expect him to compete for the SLC Offensive Player of the Year this upcoming season. This UCSB team has shooters from the top down, goalie included. That’s the sort of team that the SLC likes.
If they can build on a solid defense from last year, they’ve got a chance to upset the SLC and take the autobid. Even if they can’t overcome Chapman, they’ll still be primed for an at-large spot in 2017.
8. Colorado State
The Rams might only have been picked as the third best team by the coaches of the RMLC, but they picked up 2 first-place votes in the preseason poll. That should show just how close the RMLC is expected to be in 2017. CSU has always been a defensive prowess as a program, and I’d expect that to be the Rams’ calling card once again this season.
Jake Bender is a rock in goal, and this squad routinely puts poles onto the All-RMLC team. Colorado State lost a lot of talent to graduation, but I never write off CSU until I’ve seen them play. This program has proved time and time again that they don’t rebuild, but rather reload.
Expect Colorado State to dominate possessions. Ryan Chamberlain is one of the best FOS in the nation, and was the RMLC Defensive Player of the Year to boot. That’s the sort of building block this team will need as it breaks in new players.
7. Boston College
The Eagles rolled right on through the PCLL last season, and are expected to do the same exact thing this season. Boston College usually dominates their conference, but will have to improve their out-of-conference performance to make a deeper run this season. Luckily for the Eagles, they’ve got some serious building blocks to work with this season. Sophomore Lawson Pisani returns to lead the midfield after putting up 70 points and 40 GBs last season.
He’s joined by junior attackman Kevin Sheridan (42 points) on offense, and the two of them should lead a strong, more seasoned offense into the coming season. Boston College has the stars to score with the best of them. If the defense can improve in big games, even a little bit, the Eagles can shoot their way into the semis.
Replacing goalie Mike Shepard (1st team All-PCLL, 62% SV) will be the biggest task for Boston College heading into 2017.