The 2013 college lacrosse season is descending upon us. What players should fans focus on following for the most entertainment this season?
Here’s a list of players both familiar and not so familiar with a lot of skill and a lot at stake this season that will definitely be worth watching.
Rob Pannell, A, Cornell
Last year he was the No. 1 MLL draft pick and a Tewaaraton candidate. He played in only two games last season and was allowed a medical exception at Cornell for a fifth year of eligibility in 2013. Pannell is a master at putting points on the board. In 2011 he scored 42 goals and tallied 47 assists. He had seven goals and nine assists in really only one and a half games last season. He has 103 goals and 149 assists for his career. A return to health and a feeling of making up for last year should mean another exciting season from Pannell.
Peter Baum, A, Colgate
Last season, Baum put up 67 goals and 30 assists en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance (and first round win over previously undefeated UMass) and the Tewaaraton Trophy. As the No. 1 pick in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft, Baum obviously has a lot of talent. He’s also versatile enough to play both attack and midfield. But Baum’s senior campaign will be exciting to watch because he could be the first player to ever win consecutive Tewaaraton Trophies since the award was given out in 2001. Baum could make history this season.
Brandon Benn, A, Johns Hopkins
Two years ago, Benn had a typical slow freshman season, putting up only five goals and one assist. But last season he exploded onto the scene, scoring 30 goals to go with seven assists and a .455 shooting percentage. He led the Blue Jays in goals as a sophomore. He didn’t make a Preseason All-American team, but he should wind up on one at the end of the season.
Chris LaPierre, M, Virginia
After Baum, LaPierre might have been the most saught after prospect in the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft (evident in his No. 2 overall selection). He doesn’t put a lot of points on the board, but he is an athletic midfielder with a lot of toughness to him. He picked up a team-best 63 ground balls last season and is the epitome of the two-way midfielder, which is making a comeback into the game. With a shot clock procedure coming into the college game this year, LaPierre’s ability to push the ball up the field should make for a lot of fun to watch.
Mike Sawyer, A, Loyola
He’s on the defending National Champions. He was also one of only three players to score 50 or more goals last season. He’s got a powerful shot with a lot of range on it. He may miss Eric Lusby, his scoring partner from last season, but Sawyer has the tools and Loyola still has enough talent surrounding him for him to put up another big goal total.
Jeff Lowman, G, St. John’s
John Kemp is the First-Team All-American and Pierce Bassett is the big man (literally) on campus, but Lowman should be one to watch this season. As a junior, Lowman helped propel St. John’s to its best season in school history. They reached their first Big East championship game and they had the most wins in school history. Lowman was fourth in the NCAA last season with 11.67 saves per game is fourth in school history in saves made, needing 176 saves (one more than he had last season) to be No. 1 on the list.
Mason Poli, LSM, Bryant
Maryland’s Jesse Bernhardt and Loyola’s Scott Ratliff were the top-rated LSM’s going into the 2013 MLL Collegiate Draft, and deservedly so. They’re also the LSM’s for the First and Second-Team Preseason All-American teams. Mason Poli was named to the Third-Team though, and he also was the third LSM drafted. Poli does it all; he was fourth on the team in caused turnovers (11), fifth in ground balls (44) and fifth on the team in goals (19). He even had two hat tricks last season, one against No. 20 ranked Yale. This is the first year the Northeast Conference will get an automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Tournament. Bryant has won the last two NEC Championships and Poli will be a big factor in this season’s championship quest.
Tucker Durkin, D, Johns Hopkins
He’s a six-foot-two-inch powerhouse of a defender. He caused a team-high 19 turnovers and was third on the team with 35 ground balls. The defense was seventh in the nation in scoring defense (7.38) and held 13 of 16 opponents to nine or fewer goals. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s physical and he’s arguably the best defender in the nation.