Fall Ball is a great opportunity for lacrosse coaching staffs to assess their team’s strengths and weaknesses and see which underclassmen are ready to take on a bigger role. It is also a great opportunity for teams to build the camaraderie and communication skills that will be necessary for teams to have a successful season and a deep run in the playoffs come Memorial Day.
While Fall Ball wins and losses shouldn’t be taken too seriously, the scrimmages can be fans’ and commentators’ first opportunity to see the 2017 version of teams, including perennial powers like UNC, Duke, Syracuse, Virginia, Maryland and Denver. It is also a great opportunity to see which other teams may be ready to topple one or more of the traditional lacrosse powerhouses. Let’s take a look around the league as fall ball 2016 comes to a close.
Denver showed that they mean business by burning through a demanding Fall Ball schedule. They opened kicked things off with a 16-8 thrashing of Princeton, and followed it up with a close 15-13 loss to a very good Team Canada.
UNC struggled against Ohio State during Fall Ball but that might be more a commentary on the strong year Ohio State is likely to have than it is a sign of weakness from the NCAA reigning champions.
The Orange participated in the HEADStrong Foundation Fall Ball tournament and scrimmaged a number of teams, most notably Penn and Lehigh. Syracuse had a number of players injured but Coach Desko was still disappointed with his team’s efforts, particularly their lackluster offensive output and poor shotmaking.
Hopkins scrimmaged Harvard and Albany and unofficial scores show the Jays coming out on top in both games, even with a number of key players in street clothes. With so many key players not playing, it’s hard to make any definitive statements about Hopkins’ season outlook, but the defense looked strong and there were a number of freshmen offensive players that scored. While these players may not be starters come spring, it might mean Hopkins’ depth could pay dividends during a long and challenging season.
Notre Dame’s Coach Corrigan has quite a challenge in front of him caused by the graduation of 12 players. But with the return of attackman Mikey Wynne and Ryder Garnsey, as well as middies Brendan Gleeson and Sergio Perkovic, the Irish should be fine offensively. Defensively, they have some holes to fill. Notre Dame fell to both Navy and Stony Brook in scrimmages this fall.
Navy & Bucknell
Navy and its fellow Patriot League member, Bucknell, may be a few of the dark horses for the year. Both had great Fall Ball scrimmages, including Bucknell’s decisive victory over Cornell. While these teams may not have the depth or firepower to make it to Memorial Day, they will make top teams earn their victories and may cause an upset or two.
Fall Ball is a great way for teams to get the kinks out and it gives fans something to debate until the first official face-offs in January and February. The results can’t be used to predict future results but it is a great way to see which teams may be the best prepared and most hungry for the start of the season. With no shortage of returning and fresh talent around the country, we are without a doubt in for another great season.