With the start of the 2018 college lacrosse season just a few weeks away, here is the sixth installment of a series that offers a preview of the battles for conference championships in Division I. The leagues are scheduled to appear in alphabetical order. Friday’s visit was with the Colonial Athletic Association. Monday takes a spin through the Ivy League.
Team on top: Yale captured the conference title outright in the regular season last spring for the first time since 1989 and will attempt to string together back-to-back crowns for the first time since a three-year stretch from 1988 to 1990. Despite the graduation of starting midfielderEric Scott (27 goals and 15 assists), the offense is stacked with senior attackman and Tewaaraton Award finalistBen Reeves (42 G, 37 A) and sophomore attackmanJackson Morrill (20 G, 19 A). There will be some tinkering on defense with starting defensemanCamyar Matini (nine ground balls and five caused turnovers) graduating and senior goalkeeperPhil Huffard (9.89 goals-against average and .498 save percentage) not listed on the roster, but the Bulldogs are loaded.
Team on the rise: Of the four league championships Harvard has collected, none have been outright. The program has a legitimate shot this spring of changing that courtesy of a well-stocked roster. The Crimson could welcome back as many as nine starters from last spring, including senior attackmen Morgan Cheek (37 G, 30 A) and Joe Lang (19 G, 10 A). Junior defenseman Jonathan Butler (25 GB, 15 CT) and senior goalie Robert Shaw (11.18 goals-against average, .526 save percentage) will be counted on to help overcome the graduation of defenseman Ryan Norton (15 GB, 12 CT).
Team on the decline: When a program returns 2017 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Michael Sowers (41 G, 41 A) and first-team goalkeeper Tyler Blaisdell (11.48 goals-against average, .532 save percentage), it’s not easy finding many faults. But Princeton has some question marks on the field. Who is versatile enough to do what midfielder Zach Currier (24 G, 34 A, .564 faceoff percentage, 130 GB, 21 CT) did? Who will help with the scoring load now that attackman Gavin McBride (54 G, 17 A) is gone? And who will lead the close defense in place of Bear Goldstein (34 GB, 17 CT)?
Prime-time player: Only one active player in Division I has been named a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award twice, and that’s Reeves. Barring injury, he is considered almost a shoo-in for a third turn at college lacrosse’s version of the Heisman Trophy. The two-time first-team All-American is already Yale’s career leader in scoring with 201 points on 112 goals and 89 assists after posting back-to-back 79-point seasons. Reeves is the catalyst for the Bulldogs offense that ranked ninth last season in goals per game (12.9).
Underrated player:Jeff Teat had 33 goals and 39 assists as a freshman and got only second-team All-Ivy honors. But Cornell’s super sophomore will demand copious amounts of attention this spring after breaking Rob Pannell’s freshman scoring record. Teat finished second in the nation in points per game at 5.5 and fourth in assists per game at 3.0. Those totals pushed him to fifth in the Big Red’s single-season history and were the highest averages by a freshman within the program.