We’re switching it up a little for this week here on Under-the-Radar. Rather than take a look randomly throughout DI, we’re going to do a deeper dive into one conference for each of our topics. For this week, we’re taking a look at the America East conference, and seeing what we can below the surface. It’s been quite the week for the America East. Tehoka was suspended, then quickly unsuspended, by the NCAA over an Instagram post, missing Albany’s one-goal loss to #2 Cornell. The real fun of the America East this year, however, is the parity in the league. The Vermont Catamounts? Yeah, they’re pretty good. Naming a favorite for their autobid to playoffs is nearly impossible at the moment. So, let’s take a look, shall we?
Vermont Lacrosse: Under the Radar Team of the Week
All eyes tend to be on the Dane Train, but, if anybody is going to take them out of the playoff hunt this year, it’s likely to be the Vermont Catamounts. The Vermont Catamounts have, in the last two years, often got more attention for being one of STX’s Rival testing schools (their helmets are, admittedly, pretty dang fire these days), but this isn’t a team to overlook for the playoff hunt either.
Yes, the Cats miss Ian MacKay. It’s hard to lose the 13th overall pick in the MLL Draft and keep rolling. However, Vermont has done a decent job of replacing those points. The attack has been a sort of attack-by-committee, with five attackmen having put up 7+ points so far this season. That starts with the all-Canadian pairing of junior Ben French and sophomore Liam Limoges, who co-lead the Cats in points at fifteen each. Co-starter at attack Dawes Milchling leads the team in assists, and they’ve got solid depth down low with freshman David Closterman (11 points) and senior Jack Knight (7 points) contributing well so far.
The bigger issue for Vermont has been its offensive midfield, which could use some depth behind stud freshman Thomas Mcconvey. The future is certainly bright for this group, whose three leaders in points are all freshmen, but the Cats are going to need some production increase from someone right away in order to stay competitive in the America East. Thankfully, their goalie play has been up to the task so far. Junior Nick Washuta has posted a 51% save rate thus far, and helped Vermont limit teams to single-digit goals in their three wins so far. In fact, the most goals that the Cats have given up so far in a game is 13, in a loss to Navy. The defense has done a wonderful job limiting its opponents so far this year, with the Cats’ opponents averaging just 9.6 goals-per-game.
Those numbers speak to a team that could find its way into May, if the offense can start producing at a more consistent rate. After a 21 goal explosion against Utah to start the season, the Vermont Catamounts have been less-than-consistent on the offensive end. However, defense wins championships, and the Cats definitely have that thus far. Warren Jeffrey and Will Jones have both been fantastic on defense this year, with the former having already put up eight CTs. Meanwhile, LSM Andrew Simeon has racked up 19 ground balls, vacuuming them off the turf and turning them into possessions. If the Cats offense can find the level they put up against Utah and Quinnipiac, this is a team that could push Albany for the America East title sooner rather than later.