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NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament Preview

The best time of year is finally upon us, the NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament. If you’ve been following along all year, you’re probably more than aware of just how exciting the regular season has been. From the top to the bottom, we have seen some of the best parity the NAIA has ever seen. The NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament reflects that as well, and for the first time in a couple years, there may not be a clear front-runner to win it all. 

In this article, I’ll give you a quick breakdown of how each team in the playoffs got there, who on their team to watch, and how they can win it all, and how they could lose.

1) Indiana Tech 


How They Got Here

(16-0) (9-0 WHAC) (Lost to Saint Ambrose in 1st game of season, but was forfeited by Saint Ambrose later on) Regular Season and WHAC Tournament Champs

Who To Watch

Andrew Ryan – Grad. – A/M – 53 Goals and 28 Assists. Ryan might be the best player in the NAIA this year. He can single handedly take over games and score at will when he needs to. 

Tom Piotrowski – Sr. – D – 59 Caused Turnovers and 71 Groundballs. After the graduation of Jordan Reyes, the Warriors needed someone else to step up to lead the defense and Piotrowski has done just that. 

How They Win It All

Play their game for a full four quarters. Early in the season, IT struggled to get going early on in games, leading to some closer results than they would have liked. Later on in the year, when they come out hot and play a full strong game, they can beat anyone in front of them.

How They Lose

Where the Warriors have been the most inconsistent is in Goal and at FO. If they run into a team with a strong FOGO and a strong Goalie and get outplayed at those two positions, the other team will have a shot. 

2) Reinhardt


How They Got Here

(10-1) (6-1 AAC) Regular Season Co-Champ and AAC Tournament Champs

Who To Watch

Dillan Bousquet – A – Sr. 43 Goals and 26 Assists. If you don’t think Ryan is the best player in the NAIA, its probably because you believe Bousquet holds the title. Bousquet can do it all and shoots absolute laser beams

JR Sess – FO – Jr. – 69.2% FO pct and 83 Groundballs. Part of why the Reinhardt offense scores so many goals is because they constantly have the ball. Sess turns them into a make-it-take-it machine. 

How They Win It All

The 4x defending champs know exactly what it takes to win a championship. Expect them to be ready for the NAIA Lacrosse Tournament atmosphere.

How They Lose

While the Reinhardt Defense is solid, they will secede some goals. If a team can swing the possession battle in their favor by causing turnovers, or beat Reinhardt on Face-offs, they have a shot at taking them down. 

3) Saint Ambrose


How They Got Here

(14-2) (11-1 KCAC) (Defeated Indiana Tech in 1st game of season but later forfeited) Regular Season KCAC Champs, KCAC Tournament Runner-Up

Who To Watch

Michael Shakerin – A – Jr. – 34 Goals and 25 Assists. 2021’s KCAC Offensive Player of the Year won the award outright in 2022. St. Ambrose’s career scoring leader gets their whole offense in motion

Nolan Hayes – G – Jr. – 70.1% Save Pct. The NAIA is full of studs in net, but this year Hayes cemented himself at the top of that list. He led the NAIA in Save Pct. And was Top 5 in in goals against and goals against average. 

How They Win It All

If you’re fan of lacrosse, you’re likely a fan of the PLL and watched the Chaos’ Goalie, Blaze Riorden, single-handedly carry them to a championship. The Fighting Bees can lean on Hayes the same way to carry them to a championship. 

How They Lose

In the KCAC Championship against Benedictine, the Fighting Bees committed 29 Turnovers. It’s hard to win games when you continuously give the ball to the other team. If they have another high turnover output, they’re beatable. 

4) Cumberlands


How They Got Here

(12-4) (5-2 AAC) AAC Tournament Runner-Up

Who To Watch

Dylan Crouch – A – Sr. – 38 Goals and 34 Assists. All three of the Patriots Attackmen are capable of scoring in loads, but Crouch is the best distributor of the group. He gets the offense in motion.

Jake Morgan – D – Jr. – 49 Caused Turnovers and 67 Groundballs. Morgan’s entire career he was a 1st Team All American and that won’t change this year. He’s the best long pole in the country, can guard anyone, take the ball away from anyone, and can push transition on anyone. 

How They Win It All

It’s felt like year after year, Cumberlands is on the verge of making a championship push. This one may just be mental, they have the athletes to compete at every position. They just have to will themselves to win every game from here on out

How They Lose

Cumberlands is prone to giving up some runs. If they give up some big runs and allow other teams to gain momentum, they can lose early. 

5) Tennessee Wesleyan University


How They Got Here

(13-3) (6-2 AAC) AAC Regular Season Co-Champ

Who To Watch

Austin Hall – G – So. –  60.3% Save Pct. The AAC Defensive Player of the Year was the Gamechanger for this Bulldog squad. He’s the main reason the NAIA season’s most surprising team is making their 1st NAIA tournament. 

Kyle Gasior – FO – Sr. – 70.7% Face-off pct and 137 Groundballs. Gasior is dominant at the Face-off X and he’s a major threat winning it to himself and pushing transition. 

How They Win It All

The Bulldogs have a recipe for success: have Gasior dominate face-offs and generate a slow methodical offense with lots of possessions. Hall will need to continue his dominance as well for them to have a shot at winning. 

How They Lose

Losing the possession battle. In games that they’ve lost this year TWU turned the ball over at a higher rate and didn’t have as much success on Face-offs. When they get taken out of their game, they struggle. They need to play their way for success. 

6) Aquinas


How They Got Here

(10-4) (8-1 WHAC) WHAC Regular Season Runner-Up, At Large

Who To Watch

Mitch Haggart – A – Jr. – 52 Goals and 20 Assists. Haggart can flat out score as evidenced by his 52 goals this year. Good luck trying to slow him down.

Kevin Lahaie – M – So. – 21 points, 61 Groundballs. Lahaie is an old-school, do-it-all midfielder for the Saints who can shoot, dodge, take face-off wings, play defense, and push transition. The 1st Team All-WHAC selection will have his fingerprint on their tourney run.

How They Win It All

Aquinas has arguably the best entire attack unit in the NAIA, if they can score in bunches, it will be hard for other teams to keep up with their scoring. Boerigter in net has a tendency to get hot and can lead the team to get hot along with him.

How They Lose

Haggart and Zach Sweet can score in bunches, largely because they shoot in bunches. If they struggle to get shots off or struggle to find the net, they’ll be in big trouble, especially if they run into a hot defense.

 

7) Keiser


How They Got Here

(8-5) (6-2 AAC) At Large

Who To Watch

Cam Provines – FO – So. – 71.5% FO Pct and 109 Groundballs. Provines might be the best FOGO in the country and is a technician at the Face-off X. He can help Keiser dominate possessions. 

Cole Stassi – A – So. – 21 Goals and 29 Assists. When Stassi scores 3 or more goals, Keiser is 5-0. In games where he scores less than 3, they’re 3-5. Stassi has to get the ball in the net if the Seahawks want to be successful.

How They Win It All

Stassi has stepped his game up in the second half of the year and Keiser has had more success when he’s more successful. Provines at FO and Cole George in goal, are both studs and if they’re hot can carry this team past Reinhardt.

How They Lose

At times this year, the offense has been inconsistent. If they struggle early on in games, they’ll likely struggle the whole game. 

8) Benedictine


How They Got Here

(10-6) (8-2 KCAC) KCAC Tournament Champs

Who To Watch

Brady Guck – A – Sr. – 45 Goals and 26 Assists. Guck is going to have to play at an elite level in order for Benedictine to have a shot. He’s capable of it, in the Ravens upset of St. Ambrose in the KCAC Championship, he scored or assisted 6 of their 10 goals.

Duncan Loud – G – Sr. – 54.6% Save Pct. And 9.38 Goals Against Average. In Benedictine’s run to the KCAC championship, Loud stepped up his game. In his last 3 games, he’s averaging over 20 saves a game and 10 goals against. If he can keep up this high level of play, they can shock the world. 

How They Win It All

Guck and Loud have to step up to carry this team. Knowing that they’re the underdogs in every match-up, Benedictine can play loose and care-free and use that underdog mentality to gain momentum in the NAIA Lacrosse Tournament.

How They Lose

This team isn’t super deep with talent. They need their top end guys to play at an elite level to win. If Loud struggles, this team can give up a lot of goals quickly. They need to play their best team game or they’re out early. 

Now that you’re all caught up, you should be ready for possibly the most exciting NAIA Men’s Lacrosse Tournament we’ve ever seen. Below you’ll find my picks for the bracket. Fill out your own and follow along!